When I was younger, childless, and even dumber than I am now, I told my brother-in-law, Dan, that my children would know the truth about Santa Claus. The presentation of my position was most certainly communicated in a similar way to how any childless younger singleton presents an uneducated stance on how to raise children: Judgy McJudgy and sufficiently anti-North Pole. It was a warranted berating, and I’m willing to bet he’s super entertained by the Elf on the Shelf that the Spirit of St. Nicholas brought with him last night. But, if even a single post has been read on this blog, it’s clear that I could use all of the parenting tricks I can get. And Josie already climbed up two chairs to reach him and play with him, so toy it is.
Though, at the time of my original no fake Santa stance, I failed to recognize the insane amount of FUN inherent in a child’s experience of Christmas miracle magic, my concerns still echo my Santa Claus perspective today. Sure, I’ve threatened “if you continue to throw a tantrum because you aren’t permitted to cook your own scrambled eggs for a second more, Santa Claus won’t come here,” to my two-year old more times than I can count, and I am privy to biting each and every cookie baked (and partially burned) for Santa each and every Christmas eve, which might have more to do with my love of sugar than anything else. So maybe take this entire post with a few grains of sugar, and for your taste buds sake, I hope they are in the form of a freshly baked and not burned chocolate chip cookie.
Here’s my beef: there just seems to be so much great REAL stuff that we frost over, yet we fly right on over to a traveling elves, magic, and things that 8 year olds begin to realize don’t make any real sense. And before I’m forever labeled as a giant fun sucker, much like I was during the conversation with Dan, my fear is this: Teaching our children about faith is delicate, and as a newish parent, hands down my biggest fear is that my children will doubt how much God loves him as a result of my lack of it, poor teaching, bad example etc, etc, etc.
If I spend my time creating a belief in Santa, only to have it naturally questioned and burst by a sense of reason that I hope my children develop, what else will they begin to question and doubt?
What’s more is that there is no real reason, in my mind, to even go down this particular candy cane lane.
Fact: St. Nicholas: a very real person who lived in Asia Minor in the 300’s, was a wealthy man with compassion for the poor. When his friends and neighbors were on the brink of being sold into slavery and prostitution, in an effort to remain anonymous, he snuck down chimneys in the middle of the night and put gold in their shoes. He prayed for them and asked Catholics to help them. Eventually, he became a bishop and dressed with a hat and often wore red velvet because its cold. He donated his wealth to the poor. Sleigh rides were regular forms of transportation. If I continue telling the story the facts will begin to turn into “sounds nice but probably not historically accurate,” so go ahead and Wikipedia. But here’s one more thing I know: A thousand and several hundred years of consumerism later, the idea of Santa Claus is often removed from the life of faith and placed into the aisles of stores 2-3 hours after Halloween trick or treating ends having very little to do with Jesus at all. And as a parent to three cute babies, let me be the first to say, ignore my baby, offend me forever. So if I were God, I’d be really annoyed at all of the Son of God dissing.
Today, the feast of St. Nicholas, is one of my favorite days to teach my kids about the real, and rich faith of our Church. I’m sure I’m doing it mostly wrong, and the 7 marshmallows consumed for breakfast this morning caused a giant behavioral crash beginning at 820 am and ending never. Hopefully, though my new to the number 4-year-old gets that good Old Kris Kringle is very much indeed a real man who loved God and helped the poor with his time and talent. And since communion with the saints is just a prayer away, his presence is alive and jolly as ever. And by his example we can be made better and more generous! Judging by James’ Christmas shopping experience this am, shopping for others is a struggle and his present for Josie is a golf ball that says #1 dad so I’ve got a lot of work to do and family members to help him identify.
I’m still working through why he comes back at Christmas, but so far I’ve gone with “because he loves Jesus so much he wants everyone to have a super fun party on his birthday” and birthday parties are my kids favorite, so its working.
I have yet to get a question about the north pole and his workshop but I think heaven should suffice as its location and its maintained by the saints, and headed by St. Nicholas for this particular Advent season. And since my scatterbrain left the coolest life-size batman in the back of the car that was discovered in this morning’s pile in, it’s already pretty clear Mom helps with the presents. But believe me you, the Holy Spirit is very much involved in 99% of my incredible Marshall’s clearance finds so Christmas miracles are a plenty.
Its interesting and sad to me that as a parent I have to work so hard to come up with ways to help my kids understand how Jesus fits into Christmas, yet the world around them makes it quite confusing. Prayers for you for prayers for me.
I hope you all got a delicious treat in your boots. Happy Weekend, and Happy Feast Day!