Do You Hear What I Hear?

I love all the sparkle and glitter of Christmas time.  My tree is up ASAP after Thanksgiving.  Bringing out the special decorations that have been in the basement for a year is such an event for my kids ages 6 and 7.  I love the mistletoe.  I love my nativity set with the baby Jesus that comes out of the manger.  He is no bigger than an almond.  Christmas with kids is just so much fun!  I remember when I was a young girl and I would sneak down from my bedroom at night.  It was so silent and still and the glow from the Christmas tree just warmed my heart.  I would sit on the couch and watch and listen.  I knew that Santa Claus wasn’t real but I loved the thought of a jolly caring man coming into my house to leave presents for my siblings and me.  It made me feel special that someone I didn’t even know would be so kind.

Now I have kids of my own.  Jeff and I have always explained that Christmas is a celebration of our Savior coming to live with us, being born as a baby.  We also talked to them about Santa Claus.  We explained that Santa is a mythical character that is based on a man from long ago who was very kind to those in need.  He is a very nice man, but not real.  Even with all our efforts to teach our kids the true meaning of Christmas they are still prone to want this fantasy!  Other dear mother friends of mine tell me that even after all their efforts to educate their children the kids have suggested that they leave cookies out on Christmas Eve just to see what happens.   Kids want to believe!

Santa seems to be a permanent part of the American culture so it is necessary to talk about him.  There are many Christmas movies that try so hard to convince young kids that they should believe in Santa Claus.  They are touching, inspiring and full of hope in a man that is not real.

My son loves trains so we have the movie The Polar Express.  A wonderfully computer animated movie staring Tom Hanks.  A magical train stops at the homes of “doubting” children; some doubting the existence of Santa, some doubting themselves.  One by one the kids get on board and have a thrilling ride on this train headed for the North Pole so they can see Santa.  An adventure filled with tiny miracles along the way all giving evidence to the magic that makes Santa possible.  Oh their faces when they finally get to the North Pole!  The elves are real!  The reindeer are real!  Time does not exist! All doubts about how those millions of presents would ever fit on the sleigh and how in the world could Santa deliver all those packages in just one night are suddenly gone as they witness the magic that makes it all happen.   A special boy gets the first present of Christmas handed from Santa himself – a bell from Santa’s sleigh!  It has the most beautiful ring!  After returning home he and his sister listen to the bell together.  Sadly, his parents could not hear the bell ring, (obviously because they don’t “believe”).

This movie made me think about some doubters I know.  How could the bible be real?  How could God make the entire universe in just 7 days?  How could all those animals fit on that boat?  How do we know if there really is a place called Heaven, or hell for that matter? How could a baby be born to a virgin? Was she artificially inseminated?  – well, sort of.  Did dead Jesus really get up and walk out of the tomb with out a scratch on him?  – well, only a couple scars.

Our train is life and we are on our way to eternity.  Some of us have witnessed miracles, answers to prayer all pointing to evidence of God’s power, love and existence.  And oh our faces when this earthly life stops and we arrive in eternity!  “It’s real!” we’ll say with joy when we finally see our Gift with our own eyes. The Gift we held in our hearts all this long ride – Jesus Christ himself!  Or the terror when we realize that we declined the gift over and over again, because as we can now clearly see… it is real.  We won’t see Tom Hanks punching our golden ticket as we enter eternity.  We will see The Lord and he will look for one thing, the blood of His Son.

I want my kids to know that Christmas is not about doubting if Santa Claus is real.  Christmas is about understanding the reality of heaven, what it cost to get us there, and that Jesus is the one wearing a red robe.  (Read Revelation 19:13)

Christmas is not the happy feeling knowing that even the poor kids get a Christmas present. It is the peace and security knowing that every person has been given a gift – the gift of life, the gift of reality, no longer this pointless existence, but purpose, and knowing that you have a place.  I want my kids, family and friends to all believe…  and hear what my ears hear.

In your Christian home, what do you tell your kids about Santa Claus?

(sounds like a teen awareness commercial – “Talk to your teen about drugs, or someone else will.”… “Talk to your child about Santa, or someone else will”)

Santa is not a bad guy and yes, a temporal trinket can soften a heart to the real meaning of why we celebrate Christmas.  All good things, but do you have a hard time with cultural traditions that steal attention from our Savior?