Saturday, December 16, 2017

More about fun, less about presents

I grew up in a time where Santa was THE MAN at Christmas. We asked -- for one thing -- and we usually received it under the tree. As an adult, I marvel at and appreciate what it took for my parents to be able to do that for the 10 children they raised.

But as much as I loved those Christmases, there are probably only one or two gifts I remember. What I remember are the moments decorating the tree, making cookies, making gifts for my brothers and sisters and the rituals like going to church or singing carols -- the experience of Christmas!

We kept the illusion of Santa up for our own children as they grew.

Fast forward to now, and I see the stress on my adult children's faces if they feel they can't give their own children everything they want for Christmas. I see the confusion in my grandchildren's face when they hear about Toys for Tots and other advertisements on television telling them that some families need help to get gifts.

"But what about Santa?" four-year-old Mady asks. I don't even remember how we responded, but it satisfied her.

Her question has stayed in my mind and in my heart. What about Santa?  Is it time to get real and quit lying to children?

I definitely think it's high time we quit going crazy about presents. Think how much more meaningful that gift for Aunt Edna would be if you gave it to her in August - for no reason other than to say you are thinking of her and love her. Think how your kiddos would respond to one gift under the tree, and more gifts during the year - just because.

No, I'm not forcing my family to do that - just pondering if we shouldn't all take a huge step back and focus on the fun of Christmas.

So this year, I'm going to put together a check list of fun things to do. Bake cookies, make a craft, play outside - whether there is snow or not, sing carols, and help my grand kids make gifts for their parents. We're going to read the Night Before Christmas, but we're also going to read the Bible versus talking about the birth of Jesus. And, more importantly teach the kiddos - and ourselves - a lesson in doing something for people we don't know.

It's easy. Dust off the cookbook, find out when advent services are, catch a matinee of The Nutcracker.  We can't use the excuse that we're not crafty. Pinterest exists! There are plenty of blogs to help us get creative.

Santa will still probably be the man for generations to come - I just hope one day, we'll all collectively decide that he should be a part of Christmas, not the only reason for Christmas.

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