Things were supposed to change once I had children. It's said that the holiday glee of childhood returns once you're able to watch your kiddos experience it for themselves. This will be my son's third Christmas and last year at least was actually more frustrating for me then ever. I've celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmastime for my entire life. Santa Claus and his elves were always a fun story but my siblings and I never "believed" in Santa. Jesus was the reason for the season. Last year I noticed for possibly the first time how very removed from Christmas Jesus has become in our culture. When it comes to TV shows and Christmas marketing/ decorations, gift wraps, bags, kids books; you name it there is very little sign of Christ and the nativity left in Christmas. It was sickening to me last year and I was really sad for much of the holiday season at the revelation of what apparently Christmas is now about: giving and getting gifts. I get it that alot of people don't believe in Christ but that's what Christmas is for me.
This year has been very different, in fact this has been the best Christmastime I can remember and Christmas day itself is not even here yet. I have very little money to spend on gifts. I already know that I'll be getting some pretty small gifts myself. The holiday shoppers don't seem any less stressed or polite than years past. The television programming and marketing sure haven't changed. This year has been different thus far because I made a conscious decision to make Christmas about celebrating the birth of Jesus with my son and not about anything else. Our Christmas countdown has helped alot because we are reading scripture every single day about His birth and the Christmas story. In an effort to combat the Christmas programming that I do allow my son to watch even though it has nothing to do with why we celebrate Christmas I've been talking with him every single day about the Christmas story and Jesus. Just the other night I told him the story of Saint Nicholas before bed... which ended rather silly. I said to him, "now the simple story of Nicholas has turned into the giant story of Santa Claus." Then my two year old looks at me and says, "he was a giant? did he say fee fy fum? were the kids scared?" Uh...
This year I've been enjoying the simplicity of the Nazarene baby born in a stable, placed in a manger, and visited by shepherds and my son has been too. The peace and joy and holiday splendor that have come from truly taking gifts out of the equation are magical. It's not that we aren't giving gifts but this is the first year that I don't feel pressure about it and that in a way it doesn't matter. For me this is the first Christmastime where Jesus is the gift, the only gift that matters or means anything and I'm really really happy. Santa Claus is fun. Giving gifts is a wonderful thing. All the decorations and music and parties are great but I'm enjoying this Christmas more than any other because none of that matters this year.
Did you know that Rudolf the red nose reindeer (almost Rollo or Reginald) was created by Montgomery Ward department store in 1939 in an attempt to sell their own coloring books as opposed to buying and selling other coloring books? The simple fact alone that Rudolf was created for marketing purposes... yep. (and I love the little guy. he's adorable but... yep)