Use My Voice

Speaking up about the issues I can't get out of my head or heart.

Guest Post – Why My Kids Don’t Believe In Santa

I am very excited to have our first ever guest post for this weeks, Why? Wednesday. My good friend Angela has taken some time to  explain how her family handles the “Santa situation”. I appreciate her honesty and most importantly her friendship!

My Kids Don’t Believe in Santa
All of my Christmas memories as a child are full of Santa and magic. I loved everything about Santa. The gifts, the letter writing, and the cookies he loves to eat. I was convinced I would find him kissing my mom under our Christmas tree. Utterly convinced of it!
If I had married an American man, my family would likely celebrate with Santa. However, I married a man from Colombia, South America. Some Colombian children grow up with a version of Santa, but it is nothing like it is here in America. Regardless, my husband was never taught to believe in anything at Christmas, except Jesus. He moved to the United States in his 20s. He has pretty much embraced everything about American culture, with a few exceptions. One of those exceptions is Santa.
It would be untruthful to say that culture is the only reason we don’t celebrate with Santa. When I became a Christian at the age of 16, I was surprised to hear that our God is a God who loves regardless of behavior. His love is complete and everlasting. My first Christmas as a Christian, every time I heard an adult tell a child that Santa only brings gifts to good little boys and girls, I squirmed. Of course, as adults, we know that “Santa” will bring gifts regardless. J But it seemed somehow wrong to celebrate with a fictional character so unlike Jesus- whose birthday we are celebrating. Santa has God-like qualities (ie: He sees you when you are sleeping…), yet he is really nothing like God. These descriptions about Santa are so opposite to the truth about Jesus.
If I had been raised with Jesus and Santa, I might feel differently. I know many amazing Christian parents who teach their kids about Jesus 365 days a year. They also incorporate Santa, the elf, etc., into their traditions. Trust me— I don’t look down on them or judge them in any way at all. We all need to parent our kids according to our own convictions… on Christmas and every day. We all must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. I am not naïve enough to think that belief in Santa will make or break a kid’s faith in Jesus.
For me, I can’t do both Jesus and Santa well. One year, we decided to try Santa. It was our first year in public school, and my son came home talking about Santa. All the mystery of Santa was new to him. He had never heard about Santa at home, church, or school. We saw him in movies and at the mall, but it wasn’t personal. He was in 1st grade at the time. So my husband and I decided to “let him believe”. But I soon realized his belief in Santa needed constant reinforcement. He constantly wanted his doubts explained away. He asked continual questions. He wanted to believe so bad. Everything became about gifts and Santa. He had what the Bible calls “child-like faith”. I couldn’t teach him to put that faith in Santa, when Christmas is really about Jesus.
In our home, we are not afraid of Santa. Although my kids know the truth, we allow them to pretend. They write notes to Santa. We put out cookies. Grandma likes pictures of the kids with Santa, so we try to fit that in. This year they want to buy an elf, so we’ll do that too. We love watching movies like Polar Express, Elf, and Rudolph. We have other Christmas traditions too. My kids are not robbed of a fun and magical Christmas because they don’t believe in Santa. They make up their own truths about Santa. They will share in the fun of moving our elf. We all love Christmas, and we make memories every year.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!

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Why Santa (but not The Elf) is A part of Our Family’s Christmas

As I have previously written about my family LOVES Christmas. Starting the day after Thanksgiving when my kids get up they no longer great anyone with “Good Morning” it is “Merry Christmas”. I love it because they just kind of started it on their own and they all do it. Like all families traditions are a big part of celebrating any holiday. There is one Christmas tradition that seems to divide people more than any other, specially Christians, Santa. There seems to be two camps of “Yes  Santa” and “No Santa”  then some have carved out a “I will neither confirm nor deny” camp.

Well my family falls firmly in the “yes Santa” camp. I do understand the other side though. I understand why some people worry that their children will be mad that they lied to them when they find out. I understand that we at times give Santa God like powers (he knows if you’ve been bad or good…) and that could be confusing to a child’s faith development. And yes, Santa can be used to manipulate your child’s behavior for all the wrong reasons. I hear all these reasons and even get where people are coming from. As I child I can remember thinking, “Is Santa God? Are they the same?’ I can even remember thinking as a college age person that maybe I wouldn’t “do Santa” with my kids (who were still years away) because I didn’t wan to mislead them. Here’s what I finally came to realize. I don’t know anyone whose relationship with their parents was truly harmed because of Santa. Now there might have been much bigger issues at play in the family but I don’t think Santa was the main problem. As far as the faith part I also don’t know of anyone who left their faith because of Santa. Might they have questioned things, sure, but I want my kids to question and examine their faith.  If they want to to think through the differences between an imaginary Santa and a very real God I am ok with that. I believe the foundation of faith in their lives is strong enough for that. If they choose one day to walk away from their faith I really don’t believe it will be because of Santa. I will say when my kids ask me if Santa can see them all the time and really knows everything they do I am quick to answer, “No, only God can do that”.

So what about manipulating behavior with Santa? This is actually one of my least favorite parts of the whole Santa thing and one of the big reasons we don’t have an elf.  I try very hard to not use Santa as a manipulation tool. My expectations of their behavior should be the same in December as it is in July. The positive consequences for good behavior and the negative consequences for bad behavior should not drastically change because the month does. Also, I can not imagine how bad one of my kids would have to be for Santa not to come, so why even go there?

Now as far as the Elf, like I said, I don’t like the manipulation aspect of it. However, the biggest reason is that I’m a sprinter not a marathon runner (strictly a metaphor I’m not any kind of runner). I could do a bang up job with an elf for about 4 days and after that I would resent the guy and call him bad names. I calculated up the number of nights I would have to do the Elf if I continued until my youngest child was 13 and it came to around 300 nights, um not gonna happen.

Now back to Santa. I want my kids to experience Santa because they deserve the magic. In the same way they deserve to believe Tinkerbell brings pixie dust and fireworks to Disney and that magic  can get Mickey from Epcot to Magic Kingdom in the blink of an eye.Our kids grow up to fast and they are growing up in a world that often treats them as and expects them to be adults way to early.  Santa is all about childhood and I believe in childhood.

 

Look next Wednesday for a post from my very good  friend on why they take a different approach to Santa. In the meantime how do you handle Santa in your family?

Oh and here are my kids with Santa:

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Why I Won’t Be Shopping on Thanksgiving

So, our “Why Wednesday” series is getting started a day late, but hey the idea is still the same. Remember I am looking for all of you to help with this series. If you have a “why” you would like to answer let me know. Why are you passionate about something, why have you made a life choice that you sometimes feel the need to explain, or any other why you might think of.

So today I will be telling you why I won’t be shopping on Thanksgiving.  Let me tell you first I am not someone who says all Christmas related activities must wait until after Thanksgiving. Christmas music and all things peppermint started November 1st in my house. The kids spotted a Christmas tree in a neighbor’s house last night and couldn’t understand why we don’t have one up yet (because they aren’t selling fresh cut ones yet). We love us some Christmas in the Baker house.

The fact that I won’t be shopping at 6:00 Thanksgiving afternoon has nothing to do with my love for Christmas. It has everything to do with my love for others. My husband worked retail for a lot of years (he now works in the food and beverage industry that is very simmillar). Let’s just say he worked for what would generally be considered the nicer of the ‘big box” stores (you know the one where you can get your mocha and shop). This store will be opening at 8:00 on Thanks giving night (which is later than some). I asked him what time he would have had to be in if he was still working. He said 4:00 for a day like that.

When my husband use to work retail he loved Thanks giving and truly tried to soak up every last moment of the calm before the storm.  He new that the next 4-6 weeks would mean working 60 hours a week (he was a salaried level position so no overtime) , cranky customers, and never ending craziness.  Christmas Eve would be pent working up until the very last minute. The day after Christmas through New Years get ready for the returns. But at least he had Thanksgiving.  Calm, quiet (we only had one child then), family focused Thanksgiving. Now people working retail do not have that.

I have heard a couple of arguments for why it is not a big deal fro retail employees to work on Thanksgiving. The first one is , “Well, if police, and doctors, and fire fighters have to work on Thanksgiving why shouldn’t other people.” Come on really? I greatly appreciate the sacrifice people in serving professions make (15 years in ministry remember I know that one). However, I think we all agree it is necessary to have some of these people working on holidays for all of our safety. We do not need to be able to buy discounted toys and electronics to be safe. The other is, “Well if they don’t like it they should get another job”. Again I say really? Have you tried finding a job lately? I have and with a college degree I was able to land a holiday job at a children’s clothing store. Retail jobs are now the number one job in America. Not tech, not manufacturing, not service jobs, retail. Low paying retail jobs at that. So no, just going to find another job is not always a realistic option.

My best friend and I will keep our tradition going and go out in the way early morning hours of Friday before I have to go to work. We will laugh at how silly we are for doing, knowing we could just do it all on line. Where is the fun in that though? Now, I am sure there are some deals that I will miss out on. We have a very limited Christmas budget so people might get a little less because of it but that’s OK. Nobody is going to go without.  I do not need to take other people’s family time so that the members of my family can each have one more present or so that I can have something to do. I will respect the hard working retail employees more than that even if their companies do not.

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Why Wednesdays

I have an idea for my first series here. One of my favorite things about blogs are hearing people’s stories. I want to know why they think and feel the way they do. One of my biggest emotional needs is to feel like I am understood and I think I’m not the only one that is that way. I also think the more we know each other’s stories, the more we know “why” people are who they are, the closer we will become. It is hard to really look down on people or judge them when you know their story. When you know why they are in the position that they are in or why they are passionate about the things they are passionate about. Sharing stories breaks down walls. They are not always easy to share or to hear but they are important. If we want to work together. If we want to make this world a better place and if those of us call ourselves Christians want to really show his love we have to be willing to share our stories and listen to the stories of others.

With all of that being said I don’t want to just feature my stories here. That would get really boring really fast and limit the point of the series. I want as many voices as I can to help contribute to this. I would love to hear your “why”. Why you got a divorce, are a vegan, have no kids or have six kids. I want to know why you are passionate about adoption, education, or equality. If I know you IRL I will probably be asking you to share something. Your “why” doesn’t have to be faith based or even serious. If you want to tell us why your team is the best, or why you love a book, let us hear it. . I just ask that they don’t become commercials for anything and that they are written with respect.

If you are interested in submitting please leave a comment. I will be starting with one of my “Whys” next week with why I won’t be shopping on Thanksgiving.

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