My husband and I have been a family for 8 years. We have been everywhere on the Christmas spectrum. We have gone from not even celebrating it to getting into Santa and the Elf on the Shelf. We are really trying to find the proper balance between the festivities and the spirituality. We are all tempted to lose sight of the Christian aspect of the holiday. The year that we didn’t celebrate was because we were conflicted by new information of the pagan history of many of the Christmas traditions. We also learned that year why Christmas was in December despite the fact that Jesus was born in (our) September. We didn’t have kids yet and bowing out of the festivities only cost us. Then when kids came into play, the nostalgia of all our childhood memories took over and the desire to create that whimsy for our kids was overpowering. I bought an Elf on the Shelf and our oldest named him Sparky. He got into mischief around the house and I was sure this would be a fun, yearly event for our family. But it didn’t sit well with me. I also love the idea of Santa, but I just can’t lie to my kids. So the Christmas of 2012 was the birth and death of whimsy in the Ferris household. Things I thought would be traditions turned into one-time occurrences. I am not casting judgment on anyone who has these traditions, but if you are like me and struggle with the truth of it all. I would like to explain why we are Santa (and Sparky) free.
First, I just made it a policy—like my mom—to not lie to my kids about Santa. If they came to me and asked, I would be straight forward about it. Well, it turns out our serious, first-born child is a logical thinker, and at five had his doubts. I wound up telling him the true story of Saint Nicholas. I explained that he was a real person who loved Jesus and cared for the poor. I told him how the legend grew into what it is today. We use Santa as an example of how to love the least of these. He is not evil or imaginary—or still alive. I know this can cause frustration when they share this information with their peers, but I do my best to explain that each household does this part of Christmas differently and we respect others’ right to believe. There are days that I wish I had just lied to them and kept up the hoopla, but I just can’t. My logic here is that I ask them to believe in God who they cannot see. I ask them to believe in the power of Holy Spirit. Faith. I am asking them to have faith in what I tell them about our God. He holds all power and there is no other. If they believed in Santa and found out I was lying, then maybe they would question the authenticity of the power of God. A bit of a stretch I guess, but this is why I struggle to keep up the Santa story when my son asked.
So this choice leaves us with a hole in our traditions line up. To be honest, we are still struggling to create traditions. This year we are attempting advent reading each night. I am also perusing Pinterest for some fun memories-in-the-making. I think we can find things that will create nostalgia in our kids’ hearts when they are grown and approaching Christmas with their families. I also believe we can put more and more focus on the reason for the season. I want this time of year to be associated with so much more than receiving gifts. As we find things that work, we will repeat them, and before we know it, I will be able to rattle off a half-dozen Christmas traditions that the Ferris family enjoys.
As a matter of fact, I am open to ideas. Comment below with some of your favorites. Don’t feel shy about mentioning ones with whimsy. I really don’t mind that others do this. As a matter of fact, we are the only ones in our family that do it this way and no one seems to mind.