Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Santmas or Christmas?

This is a photo of me gazing at the mystifying Christmas tree, probably dreaming of what Santa thinks I deserve or wondering what I'll end up getting on the upcoming exciting day called Christmas. I might've been gazing at one of the German wooden Christmas ornaments and imagining them come to life as I so often did during those cozy Christmas seasons.

We never received many Christmas presents as a young child. It was always the anticipation of it all that created the wonderful memories and feel of the whole December event. It seems that Christmas gifts are overdone nowadays. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. Things, things, and more things, is what Christmas ends up being about. True giving is wonderful! It brings a joy to one's heart. But, things seem so distorted now. It's frustrating to have to buy, yet another, gift for, yet another, gift swap.

We gave our children 3 gifts each for our own family Christmas last year. But, after going to both grandma's houses the total of those gifts increased by about 10 toys / presents each. No, I'm not exaggerating. They didn't even know who's presents were whose. . . that's how much they appreciated what they got.

Oh, how I long for a time where one present per each child (totaling 3 presents after the visits with the grandparents) are the extent of Christmas gifts. I think there's something truly wonderful in being able to value what we get instead of tossing one present aside after another anxious to open the next present from the pile of presents lying in front of oneself.

Where's the true giving and receiving in it all?

In an effort to keep that beautiful Christmas spirit, this year, we have decided to get the kids one gift to share (this year it'll be a puppet theater with puppets) and a book for each one of them. And we'll be asking grandparents to keep the gifts at least down to 2 gifts per child... hopefully this will help. Of course, there are other things as well. Such as focusing on Christ...

Does anyone else ever feel that it is so odd how this make-believe Santa Claus figure (even thought he is such a jolly and fun person to think about) is such a strange thing to focus on when, of all things, of all people, it is Christ who should be receiving the attention? Isn't He worthy of ALL of our attention during such a wonderful season? Santa brings such a pleasant feeling to Christmas but I often wonder what we're missing out on if we solely focused on Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem, the beautiful birth of Jesus Christ, the wise men's story as they followed the star to worship this new sweet born babe instead.
Santa becomes such a wonderful figure children think about during the Christmas season. He becomes real to them. What if the yearly experience these precious little children have was about Christ instead? It seems absolutely beautiful to me.

...I just don't get it sometimes. Maybe we should pretend that it's Jesus in the sleigh whipping those reindeer, landing on our roof, and coming down our chimney... hey, at least we'll be focusing more on the REAL thing! I love imaginary things but it doesn't seem in order to be believing in something imaginary which takes focus away from the most important birthday ever!

Hey, Easter bunnies are great, cute, quick, and cuddly. But once again a strange and foreign creature comes and steals away attention from something so wonderful and real... Jesus Christ, coincidentally enough, yet again. I can imagine a great council taking place in heaven with Heavenly Father and Jesus at the head of the meeting just shaking their heads at us little people on this earth as they say, "First a man who flies in a sleigh, now a mutant Easter bunny! What'll these people think of next?"
So, what it comes down to is 3 changes (for us):
1) Focus more on Christ. Maybe by reading many written stories of Christ's birth or by acting out plays of the same story. We can read all versions of his birth in the scriptures during Christmas season.
2) Less presents
3)Carry out our own wonderful holiday traditions. (Like I said it was the anticipation of it all which kept our spirits high and happy. Our home often smelt of lovely and delicious german pastries my mom would carefully bake. And she had such a wonderful touch with decorating our home which kept the excitement of the coming Christmas day high as well.) .

What are your thoughts for this up-coming season? What are you and your family doing to keep the focus on Christmas?


Emily said...

My Mom and I were talking about this exact thing today. It bothers me every year when we have party after party and we have to come up with presents for every single one. It seems so unnecessary to me. I too think there is way too much focus on presents and not on what is important.
This year we are going to go and cut down our Christmas tree (my favorite tradition) and I really want to do fun things like make gingerbread houses or do the 12 days of Christmas for someone. Those are the things that I want my kids to remember.

Gracie said...

I have thought much about this as well. We are trying to get away from the commercial santa claus. My neighbor told my about the history of Santa Claus- he didn't start out as he is today- he was an actual person that devoted his life to Christ. Here is a website about it- http://www.stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=38
We are only giving our kids one gift from Santa this year any thing else will come from us and only after we celebrate the birth of Christ. I really want to feel the Saviors peace this year instead of the hustle and bustle of the season. Amanda Shaw

John said...

Have you considered becoming a Jehova's witness?

James said...

Are you saying there is no Santa?

Brat said...

I've been trying to figure out better ways to bring Christ back into our Christmas too.
I did change our Easter. We now do our "Celebration of Spring" (which is all the easter bunny and basket things) on Saturday and we focus more on the resurrection and Christ on Easter Sunday.

Rochelle said...

Santa has always seemed like a small part, almost two separate things. I love all the other things about Christmas, it is all in fun, Celebrating the birth of Christ is always something to do inside the home and is very personal and sacred. To me Christmas is about Family, friends, love, giving, being together and of course taking time to remember the birth of Christ. There is so much good that goes on around Christmas time. We have always kept it pretty simple, and it was all very magical growing up, I loved how my parents made it so much fun and so magical, even with not much money. Some things are done in fun, and Christmas is fun for sure, Sure things can get a little crazy, but only if we let them:) We will definitely be celebrating Christmas, this year and every year to come!!!

Chris and Tara said...

I am so with you on the presents. It drives me nuts. When we eventually have kids, I am dead-set on keeping gifts to a minimum and making them give some of their own away every year.

Davey said...

For myself Santa represents good will. the history of santa is a saint who gives to poor children. I think it give people something good to believe in who may or may not believe in Christ. If anything he can help people learn a very tough lesson that it is better to give than to receive. Any gifts that are received for one's self or for one's kids should be appreciated PERIOD.
Although Christmas has become very commercialized and out of control. Just like anything else in life it's all about your perspective. Like rochelle said all the santa stuff is a fun little thing to do with your kids. Christmas time, listening for the bells, and waiting for Santa are some of my fondest memories as a kid. I have forgotten all of the presents that i ever received. Those things fade and get thrown away. It's those nights spent with my family that I will never forget. I also remember Dad reading to us the story of the birth of the Savior from the bible. Both memories are very special to me and neither takes away from the importance of the other.

claudia said...

Yeah, it must be about perspective...and in part, strangely enough, what our love language is...I don't care to go into that here.

I guess I still feel though, that although Santa provides something good to believe in for others who don't believe in Christ, what about those who DO believe in Christ? Is there more we can give?

For me and my family, I feel there is, which is why I posted this blog and have been excited to hear others' remarks.

Rosanne Orgill said...

There is something very special and magical around Christmas time. No other time in the year does this feeling happen. It doesn't matter what face that magic takes. Christ is there no matter what the stores, or media, or whatever religion or how ever religions or countries celebrate it. Me and my siblings loved it when Santa came to our house. We would get very few toys so my dad was giving some bells that hung around his dads clydesdale horses in exchange for so pigs that he had sold his dad. His dad ( Alma Buhler) almost sold the bells to someone else and Hazel (my dads mom) said "you promised those bells to Fred". So dad got the bells but couldn't afford a suit so he would turn the lights out and the excitement started. My dad loved playing Santa ! He would spend time out back shaking the bells, we would all squeal and run inside. I can't tell you how much fun that was. Mom would sew us new pj's and maybe a new dress. We only got one or two gifts if lucky. Every one else got tons of toys but we didn't seem to even care, our Christmas was when Santa came. Dad would walk around to each child and give them and orange and candy and ask us what we wanted. I loved setting up that excitement for my children and my brothers Slade and Brad go around and even do other families for free. Christ spirit is there for the Christmas season, it's not in the quantity of presents but the quality of His presence. When you are a child you love the presents and as you grow you grow into what the real meaning is. I believe that Santa really is a helper of Jesus Christ in bringing that special spirit that comes around christmas time. It is just simply amazing. It is up to you if you allow the gifts to take over. The average person in the US spends $1800 per person, That is ridiculous and way out of control, I think they do that because they don't know how to capture that spirit and they think it is in the amount of gifts, I feel sorry for them. I strongly believe that that fat man in a red suit is a big contributor to that magic.

Amanda said...

I agree with Davey that some of the best and most cherished memories I have was around Christmas time waiting to hear the bells and hearing "Santa's" ho ho ho.. (until Johnny ruined it for me:) I don't really remember any presents also but will always remember the oranges, and the bells and the occasional lumps of coal.. and most of all, all of us gathered in one bed waiting for Santa.
I also agree that it is hard not to get caught up in the presents and all the Santa stuff.. Especially when that is all the media talks about and it gets shoved down your throat.
Even though we did all this growing up, we still all knew the real meaning. We always did read "The Tale of Three Trees", and I love that story, and of course the Forgotten Carols...
But I think it is great you are trying to remember Christ more, I think we should all try a little harder..
But, we will always be celebrating Christ's birth and Santa of course, because I want my kids to have the same memories I had growing up of Christmas..
I am excited this year, because we are planning on going to cut down our very own Christmas Tree. I want to start this tradition in our family if we can.

claudia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
claudia said...

Ha, ha John :)

It's not the HOLIDAY I want to see done away with it's the change of focus I feel needs some touching up.

dlkenney said...

We have a few favorite memories...Cutting down our own christmas tree the saturday after thanksgiving, Christmas Eve at Grandma Sharol's and our hand made pajamas, 12 days of Christmas for those less fortunate and Christmas morning breakfast at Grandma Judy's. My kids also enjoy the suspense of waiting for aunt Nancy and Rosie to show up Christmas morning. they are not allowed to open any gifts until they show up.

Shian said...

My favorite Christmas tradition is how we celebrate Christmas Eve. Our family would read the Christmas story and other books out loud to each other by the light of the Christmas tree and candles while drinking egg nog. Just thinking of it brings such tender emotions of family love.

I've also tried to change the focus at our house. I decorate with nativity scenes and try to keep Santa stuff to a minimum. I've read about the symbolism of things like the tree and talk to Gavin about that. I agree with you that we need to make sure we are keeping Christ in Christmas and not forgetting why we really celebrate