Thursday, December 12, 2013

Jesus AND Santa

It's been awhile since I've written a post that received as much feedback as my Elf on the Shelf one from Monday...  I have to be honest with you, I wrote that in about fifteen minutes on Sunday night - mainly intending to be lighthearted, funny, and "confessional" - and fully expected that I was the only mom in the country depriving her child of this Christmas tradition.  So, thanks for all the affirming comments and reassurance that I'm not alone.

But, just in case I unintentionally struck a chord with any of you, I did want to clarity a couple of things before we move on...

- I DO NOT hate the Elf on the Shelf. I don't think there is anything wrong with including him/her in your Christmas traditions... I really really don't. If you enjoy it, it makes your kids happy, and everyone is having fun then - by all means - go crazy with it.  Seriously.  It just isn't my thing... right now.

- I really am glad we own an Elf. We got it from a close family friend who, I'm sure, put a lot of thought into the gift.  He will always be a part of our decor and, if Sam ever starts asking me why our Elf is lazy doesn't hide like all of his friends', well, then I'll re-evaluate and see what is best for us at that time.

- What I didn't mention in that post was that I'm not doing a cutesy/creative Advent calendar for Sam either.   I had really good intentions for this one (thanks to this reading schedule & this cute idea to unwrap a book before bed every night) and even took some of the preliminary steps towards making it happen (like gathering Christmas books and printing the plan) but, again, I lost track of time, and my lack of motivation got the best of me... As much as I'd like to be thought of as the super-deep-and-spiritual type, probably 85% of the reason we don't do the Elf on the Shelf OR an Advent thing is because I'm tired, and it just feels like one.more.thing to put on my "To Do" list. #sadbuttrue  #keepingitreal

Anyway, all that brings me to my topic today (which I actually have been thinking about and working on for a while):  How we (try to) balance Jesus AND Santa at Christmas...

At our house, we do both.

Jeff and I both grew up with Santa being a big part of our Christmas traditions.  I have SO many great memories of mailing letters to the North Pole, sitting on Santa's lap at the mall, leaving cookies (and reindeer food) out on Christmas Eve, and - of course - waking up to doll houses, bicycles, and new clothes on Christmas morning.

We did all those things and - you know what? - I still absolutely knew the TRUE meaning of Christmas.  I don't remember exactly when I figured out that Santa wasn't 'real,' but my parents' went on pretending well beyond the age that it was socially acceptable, and my sister and I happily obliged.  I don't have any harsh feelings about being "deceived" or anything like that.  Our holidays were amazing and magical and SO MUCH FUN.

I want all of that for Sam and - I have to be honest with you - I am absolutely LOVING watching him experience it all for the first time this year and be SO excited about lights and snowmen and reindeer and Santa*.  There is really nothing like Christmas with a child.

But, here's the thing:

The Santa books and pajamas and decorations? Those things come out for about five weeks in the winter ONLY.  Jesus is a staple in our home all year long.

When I remember that, striking a balance isn't all that hard...
All the fun and excitement that comes with Santa (and his sleigh full of toys) in December, is just the tiniest symbol of the real gift of Jesus.
Because God sent Jesus to be born a baby and live (and die) with us, we ALL have the gift of eternal life and freedom from our sins.  (Now, admittedly that's a little deep for a two year old - we are really just focused on Jesus being born at Christmas right now - but you get my gist.)

Our Christmas includes Santa, but it is about Jesus.

So... What does that look like tangibly?

- We have a nativity set (the one above is Fisher Price, and Sam loves it) and singing Santa dolls.
- We read Twas the Night Before Christmas and the Bible.
- We sing "Oh Holy Night" and "Jingle Bells"
- We get gifts and we give gifts.

Do I think it should be a perfect balance of 50/50 between the two?  No.

Do we always succeed at making it MORE about Jesus? 
But, right now, if you ask Sam who we celebrate at Christmas, he will say "Baby Jesus." 
If you ask him about Santa, he will say "Ho Ho Ho."
I feel good about that.
What about you?  Do you celebrate both?  How do you teach your kids about Christmas?**
*For now, Jeff and I have decided to give Sam three gifts from Santa for Christmas because that's how many presents Jesus got from the wise men, and it keeps things simple.  We will likely wrap up one additional gift from us, and - undoubtedly - he will be completely spoiled by our friends and family (for which we are incredibly grateful)! 
**Just a reminder that I think the BEST way is whatever is best for YOUR family.  There is no judgement here AT ALL... Just an interesting discussion point.


  1. LOVE this and I'm right there with you (well, in spirit...obviously...). When we have a kid, I'm just going to copy and paste this to my own blog because it's exactly my philosophy already. Well done!!

  2. I have to say that I love reading how different people tackle the challenge of keeping Christmas fun and magical while still remembering the true meaning. My husband and I have a couple years before we really need to have a game plan, but I love that you pointed out that both you and your husband grew up with both Jesus and Santa and it didn't ruin anything for you. I can say the same for myself and my husband. It's fun to have a little extra fun, and keeping Jesus around all year is a great thing!

  3. Well, yea. You know where I stand since I wrote about the same thing yesterday afternoon! #twins :)

  4. An anti-elf friend posted your blog from Monday, which led me to you. I agreed with your post and it made me want to read more, so I read the most recent post (today's)... I'm so glad that I did!
    I'm going to be quoting you on this: "The Santa books and pajamas and decorations? Those things come out for about five weeks in the winter ONLY. Jesus is a staple in our home all year long." for the rest of this Season because it hits the nail on the head of how I feel and how our house works.
    I do the whole Elf on the Shelf thing because my older kid (5) thinks it is fun and her brother (1) will too once he catches on. This is only our second year and I'm totally a lazy elf-person. I darted up this morning at 7 because the elves hadn't moved since yesterday and I was totally going to get caught. Granted, another blogger tells her kids that when the elves don't move it was because the kids were bad the day before... not such a bad theory - especially with my hard-headed 5-year-old... BUT we don't do that. They always move, even if it is somewhere totally uninspired. And I never have (never will) build a plane for the elves to fly in. If the prop isn't already in my house and easy to put into action, it ain't happening.
    Oh - I also stink at the Advent thing. Thankfully, my daughter is attending pre-K at a church and brought home a piece of construction paper with numbers 1-24 on it and a manger scene missing Baby Jesus (she'd colored the manger scene pieces). The teacher had attached a baggie with star stickers (for the numbered days) and the (crayon-colored) Baby Jesus for Christmas day. We've already missed days and had to star two at a time, but it is working and she loves it because she helped make it. I'm thinking we'll do one like it each year. Easy and to the point.
    Anyway - glad I "found" your blog. I'll be back. Merry Christmas!

  5. We have extremely similar philosophies! My husband and I also grew up in households that celebrated both sides of the Christmas Story... mangers and elves were always both welcome. Our girls are still young but I LOVE that this holiday season my husband and I have had tons of conversations about how we want our girls exposed to both Jesus and Santa and how we are going to make it work in our family. This year I am lovin the children's nativity set. I also decided to adopt the 3 gift rule. Each girl will get 3 special gifts on Christmas morning - a little nod to the wise men. As they get older I want to incorporate more giving. My parents always had us pick an Angel from an Angel Tree at our church and we had to use our own money to purchase the gifts.

  6. We definately do both Santa and most importantly celebrating Jesus. We also have the Elf and because 3 of my 4 girls are past believing in him. That is 5 people being creative with the Elf for one 7 year old. We really enjoy this tradition. I did not feel you were anit elf but I am getting a little tired of some of the other blogs acting as if it is creepy and the usual Santa arguement goes as well. Christians can find a good balance of remembering the true meaning of the season while still adding some of the magical fun symbols as well. Also, I love your blog :)

  7. We are doing both, and this year it is a bigger deal since our son is almost 3. We have been talking a lot about Jesus- all day long. I've been reading him the Christmas story, and now He looks through his Bible and tells it back to me. We have been doing crafts about the Nativity story. I'm making sure he really understands it. But we also have been talking about Santa. We have stockings. I "believe" in Santa! I think it's so fun. It is an important part of the fun of Christmas. I never wondered if Jesus wasn't real when I found out Santa wasn't. I think its very true what you said- Jesus is talked about year round! Good post :)

  8. We do Santa, and keep religion out of it. And where I live, in Norway, we call it Youle, so it just feels natural. And the entire family is fine with that, and we don't think that much about it.
    Good post btw. Always interesting to read and hear about how people tie santa and religion together. :-)

  9. That's exactly how we did it and it certainly worked for us. And, now both of our children are doing the same with our Grans. They are 4& 5 this year and are really getting it and it is so sweet to watch. Blessings for a wonderful Christmas!

  10. 100% yes. I get so upset when people become self righteous about Santa. I totally respect people not doing Santa, but I hate it when people act like they are better than others because of it. You guys are obviously doing something right if little Sam can say Christmas is about baby Jesus and say ho ho ho about Santa :)

  11. Agree, agree, agree! This is exactly how I feel about including Santa in our Christmas. Jesus is year-round in our home which I pray will leave him at the forefront of my little girl's mind always, not just in December. I linked to this post on my blog today; I hope that's okay?? :)


Your comments are what makes this thing fun! I LOVE to hear from you and do my best to respond to everyone! THANK YOU!

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