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Friday, November 30, 2012

How Does She Do Santa...

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Today I wanted to share what we do to make the Christmas season special and how we share the gospel principles behind it. For those of you who are of a differing faith or belief, I ask that you be kind. I try to keep things light and fluffy here on Blissful and Domestic, but today I want to share something close to my heart. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I know my Savior lives and loves me. This post is for those Moms who were once like me, wanting to find a way to make their Christmas holiday more Christ filled, but not knowing how to go about doing it. This post is for my 20 year old self. 

Read on lovelies......

Santa Claus....That big, jolly man with his white beard and rosy cheeks. He is everywhere this time of year. We see him in commercials, in store advertisements, in Christmas TV specials, and even on food packaging. Santa Claus and Christmas go hand in hand every holiday season. As adults we can remember being a child and waiting to hear Santa and his reindeer on our roof tops. I can remember sneaking into my parents room and snuggling up to my Mom. I had to be around 5 or 6. I swear I heard hoof steps on the roof. I nudged my mom to tell her, but she grumbled for me to go to sleep and rolled over. I listened for more steps. My six year old self was just beaming with excitement. I knew I had heard Santa. He had come and brought presents for my brother and I. Santa is a part of all of us. He is a part of our youth. Eventually we get older and either learn for ourselves or from our friends that the jolly St. Nick is not real. I was dropped the “Santa Bomb” by my friend Stevie. Yes Stevie you crushed my Santa dreams with one phone call...haha :) Eventually I got over my No-Santa shock and moved on with my life. I still always loved Christmas, even though no more hoof steps would be heard on my roof. This is true today as well. Christmas holds a magic for me. It is like a big ball of glittery fun, which just has to be shared. I LOVE Christmas. The wrapping of presents, the jingle bell carols, the treats, and of course all the family gatherings. It just puts my heart in overdrive, happy mode.
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When I had children I knew I wanted to pass this love for the holiday on to them, but how would I do it? I wanted them to know the real reason we celebrate Christmas. Christ is the reason for the season.

After having my son, I talked to mother after mother. I wanted to know what they did to make the Christmas holiday special for their little ones. How did they teach them the true meaning? One sweet mother told me that they didn't do Santa. I was astounded. What? You can NOT do Santa? I didn't even know that was allowed. How does that even work? Well she enlightened me. Her children were hardcore Santa fans, until they decided one day to pray to him. Their little selves understood that they had been told that Santa could see them when they were sleeping and when they were awake, so he must be like God....Right? Well this Mother knew she had to do something fast. She sat those children down and dropped the “Santa Bomb”. You know the “He isn't real” bomb.The thinking of her little ones made sense. We teach our children the gospel everyday, and the holidays should be no different.

After hearing her story I decided what I would do. I would not discourage Santa, but I wouldn't encourage it either. Hubby was on board with my plan. We would do fun holiday things, string Christmas lights, give presents, but we would teach the gospel principles behind everything we did.

Anytime I discipline my children, I do it through the gospel. When they have made a wrong choice, I remind them that those are things that make their Heavenly Father sad. By learning how little things can be unpleasing to the Lord, they are able to understand how bigger, poor choices can be just as bad. They begin from toddlerhood to realize that everything has an eternal, spiritual consequence. We continue this teaching at Christmas time.
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Every year we do a countdown. When my kids were toddlers we used the Alphabet to help us countdown to Christmas. For 26 days we crafted, created, baked, sang, and skipped our way to Christmas. This was such a fun way to get my then 3 and 18 month old into the spirit of the season. We started off slow with the gospel principles we taught. We mainly focused on a cliff notes version of the Christmas story. We wanted to make sure they knew who Christmas was for.

As it gets closer to Christmas we start The Twelve Prayers of Christmas. We get out our book and the nativity. We read a poem each night and add one piece to the nativity. On Christmas Eve is when we read the whole Christmas story again and add Christ. I love this book because it breaks down the nativity so simply for us. We are able to talk about why we give presents. We do this when we add the wise men. We give presents to remember how the wise men brought Christmas gifts after he was born. We bake star cookies when we talk about the new star that shone in the sky. We make every moment count. I am going to write up a post with a breakdown of the 12 prayers of Christmas, just in case anyone is looking to start a new tradition with their family this year.
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We still have fun with Santa. We make Santa crafts, Santa treats, and watch The Santa Clause Movies. We do this because it is a fun, magical part of Christmas. I get to have fun with my kids and be one myself for the whole month of December. I look forward to it. By not “doing Santa”, you're really just taking the focus off the man in the red suit and putting it back on the Savior. Because after all, you can't have Christmas without out Christ.

Thank you all for always being such amazing supportive readers. I would love to hear what you do to make the season brighter for your family. How do you focus on Christ during this season?

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33 comments:

  1. I just had a conversation yesterday with a friend about not encouraging santa, but also not discouraging him... we allow him to be a magical book/movie character of Christmas without the hype of him actually being "real" and giving the gifts... Great post :o)

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    1. Emily - we do the same thing! Santa is a character of Christmas idea.

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  2. We didn't have Santa when I was a kid either, my dad was a devout Christadelphian and they don't celebrate Christmas at all so I never got the tree or the tinsel or the jolly fat man. When we finally left the church and started celebrating Christmas, we used a nativity scene in place of a tree, to remind us of the true meaning of Christmas. Once my daughter is old enough to understand I'll be telling her the story of Christmas every year so that she understands that this season is about more than just the presents and the pretty decorations.

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  3. What a great post, Danielle! It is so very important that our children realize "Christ is the reason for the season" and the gifts (and Santa Claus) are secondary to the celebration.

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  4. Thank you for posting what you do! We also do not "do" Santa. We teach the real meaning of Christmas. Santa is in the same category as snowman, part of the holiday theme but not the reason. I always felt that telling our children that Santa was going to come into our home in the middle of the night and leave presents was lying and so we never did that.

    Jessica

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  5. Thank you for your post, Danielle. Everyone needs reminding of "The Reason for the Season" and your testimony was absolutely beautiful and courageous and I appreciated it so much.
    Many Blessing to you and your beautiful family,
    Theresa

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  6. I completely agree with this...just have never had the confidence to do it, because of all the relatives talking about Santa from their birth on...thought I had to follow along. I still feel guilty answering the questions. Hmmm, you've given me a lot to think about. Thanks for sharing your story. I really appreciate it.

    Bobi

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  7. My Daughter and Son In Law are going to let Santa be a part of Christmas but let my Grandson know the real meaning and they the toys come from Mom and Dad! Really threw me for a loop but now I understand and I'm 100% on board with it. Christmas is too commercialized as it is. Good post!

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    1. I agree and I am sure your daughter will love having your support. My Mom was a little unsure at first, but she is so on board and it is great!

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  8. Great post! We also "do" Santa but don't make him the highlight of Christmas. I actually did a post about this very thing last year on my blog. Hop on over if you get a chance :)

    Jennifer
    http://dainty-posies.blogspot.com/2011/11/christmas-countdown.html

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  9. Thank you so much for sharing this post -- it solves problems for me and gives me such a good perspective on the holiday season. Great job!!

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    1. Thank you so much and I am glad it has helped you.

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  10. First things first: I think you've told me before that I dropped the bomb, but I'm so sorry! I never meant to be the bad news Betsy that I was. :-P I thought you had known already and I was a loud mouthed kid anyway. <3

    Secondly: We are doing something very similar ourselves for a different, yet not completely different reason. Since P and I are atheists, we wanted to teach Olive about how wonderful life is, just based off of the glorious stuff around us. I am like you, after knowing Santa wasn't real, Christmas was a downer for a long time. I felt like it took a lot of the magic away. I don't ever want Olive to lose that magic, so we are just telling her Santa is pretend, that mommy and daddy are the real Santa, but we still keep him in our holiday and our lives much like one keeps turkey's around at Thanksgiving, or like we all hug Mickey at Disneyland knowing full well it's someone in a costume. We'll set cookies out, etc. and as she gets older, keeping it open that we are the ones giving the gifts, etc. If we raise her with Santa, but not BELIEVING in Santa, how can Christmas ever become different for her once she grows up? Whether it's an appreciation for God or just nature, I think Santa muddies that all up. :-)

    And yes, even as an Atheist we still celebrate Christmas (although, it's more like Yule, the Winter Solstice. We celebrate the time when the night is the longest, and the Earth will start it's journey closer to the sun again, bringing Spring and Summer with it.)

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    1. First of all Stevie you are one my oldest friends. I mean since we were 3! Man we are getting old...but we look so good. Haha! I love that every childhood memory has you in it. We may not have the same religious beliefs, but I am thankful we can respect each others beliefs and support one another. I love what you are doing with Olive. She will have such wonderful memories to grow up with. Such amazing experiences spending this wonderful holiday with her family. I think you are a great Mom Stevie and are raising that chickadee right:> Love you lady!

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  11. Thank you for posting this! I have been conflicted about how to make our homes and holidays more Christ centered. (but I still love Santa!) This has really given me lots of great ideas that I can't wait to try and share with my other mom friends!

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  12. Great post Danielle, something everyone needs to read. I have a post coming out in the morning with one of the traditions I did with my kids about keeping Christ in Christmas. Thanks for sharing!
    Marcie

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  13. Thanks for sharing this great post. I have told my kids that Santa likes to give children gifts on Christmas because the Wise Men gave gifts to Jesus when he was born on Christmas day. It is just another way to celebrate the birth of Christ. My oldest now knows that Santa is not real but Jesus is. Just an idea... hope it helps :)

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  14. Thank you for this post. I'm so glad that you weren't afraid to talk about Jesus at Christmas. As a Christian family we also allowed Santa but didn't make a huge deal out of him. We watch Christmas movies, but also watch the Nativity. We talk about the birth of Jesus. There were always stockings and gifts from Santa until the year money was too tight. We had to tell my son the hard truth.. he was old enough anyways. I'm just a Christmas freak and wanted to draw the fun out as long as I could. Since we no longer do stockings, I made an advent calendar out of match boxes and fashioned it in the shape of a tree. I put little treats in some of the boxes and hide larger treats around the house, putting a small piece of paper in the box directing them to the treat location. They love it! We have told our families that Christmas morning is spent at church. Our kids were in a bad habit of running from house to house..opening gifts...tossing them to the side and running to the next house. We cleared Christmas day for our own family and go to church. The most important thing to us is worshiping Jesus on Christmas morning. I loved this post! Thank you!

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  15. This is a thoughtful and well-written post. I think you are doing a great job in keeping Christmas in a way that reflects the importance of your own beliefs, which is not always an easy thing to do. My husband was full-blood German, and he loved Christmas, but not as a spiritual occasion, just the fun parts. So it was a fine line between his version of what Christmas was, and my own beliefs. I always read the Christmas story from the Bible, and talked about the gifts from the wise men, the reason for the star atop the tree, etc. It is certainly easier if both parents are on the same page!!
    Aside from the other reasons for not "doing" Santa, and the fact that Christmas has become far too commercialized, in my opinion, there is another facet of Santa that I find very disturbing and confusing for children.In theory, Santa brings toys and various other gifts to "good little boys and girls". What about the good little boys and girls who have families that cannot afford gifts? Or the families that can put only one simple gift for each child under the tree? If Santa is so kind and giving, why is there such a discrepancy between what he brings to one house, and what he brings to another? Even if a child is told the parents must pay for the gifts, it is confusing. How does a parent pay for gifts made at the North Pole, and delivered in a sleigh? If the parents pay for the gifts, anyway, why don't they just go to Walmart and get them? I think you are handling it very well.
    And what about the Easter Bunny, who brings eggs, of all things? Well, that is a subject for another day.

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  16. This is so wonderful of a post that I am going to e-mail it to my daughter who is in college. To give her something to think about for her future family. Our family draws names and focus's on doing kind things for each other. I don't like how commercialized Christmas has become. It really bugs me that the stores are already selling us on stuff before Halloween is even over. At times my Hubby and I feel like Thanksgiving is sort of just skipped over. We love Thanksgiving as a time to show gratitude for what we have and how blessed we truly are.

    Jenny @ http://jennylynndesignz.blogspot.com/

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  17. Danielle:

    I have done a lot of work to prepare for this Christmas season at our home and this was the main reason why. I LOVE Christmas and I love Christmas morning. I don't think it was really about tons of presents though. I think it had more to do with it being a magical time and I loved drawing it out all day. We never had Grandma's house to go to or things like that, so I just wanted to drag out that feeling as long as possible. I hate that opening presents is so anticlimactic! You love getting stuff and giving stuff but then you move on to the next thing and then it's over!

    Couple things I am doing this year. 1)I am doing 25 days of Christmas. I have planned out every day since Thanksgiving and we do something fun every day. It could be something as simple as a bath-time lit by Christmas lights, or as nice as going to Opportunity Village. Doesn't have to cost money.

    2) My sister in laws idea: We will be doing a 12 days of Service Christmas idea. I really wanted service to be a big part of Christmas for us. Every day, everyone in the family picks something they can do to serve (or we do something as a family) It could be making your brothers bed, or it could be we go serve at the soup kitchen. Then we write it down and I want to make little tiny gift box ornaments and we put each paper in an ornament and hang them on the tree. Christmas day we take them all day and remissness and talk about how this is our gift to Christ because it is his birthday!

    3) To help with keeping the morning special without a ton of gifts I have decided on a new tradition. I am planning on getting the entire year's scrapbook done by Christmas morning. I will put it on a DVD and that will be the last present we open and then we will watch it all together. Kids LOVE looking at pictures, we can talk about all the fun things we did during the year. The husby can see all the pictures I am sure he hasn't seen! And it helps to extend the morning into doing something extra special!

    Just a few ideas! Love you girl!

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  18. This year I made an advent calendar and in addition to one fun activity each day, I also included a piece of paper with a portion of the Christmas Story on it. Each day we read a little more of the Christmas Story and will finish it on Christmas Eve.

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  19. I. Love your blog. I have to be honestI saw the title and almost didnt read the whole thing. We also dont do Santa. My children think he is real but we dont encourage it either. I hvae had a lot of ppl say they cant believe we dont ket our children enjoy santa. I have actually been told we are bad parents because of this. My family really didnt care what we did they were just worried that my kids would ruin it for their children. If you ask my boys about santa they will tell you he was their when Jesus was born. I am wonderfully surprised to read the comments. I truly felt we were the only ones doing this or should I say not doing santa

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    1. Thanks so much. I am glad you didn't go past it:> I am so sorry about people saying you were bad parents. I got the same thing in the beginning. You know the shocked look people give you when they hear. You totally are not. I think it is just that it is not a common thing ya know not "doing" Santa. You know what is best for your children and that is what is important:> You go girl!

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    2. I have a question how doyou handle it when people ask your kids what santa is bringing them. So far I have just let my boys answer how they choose sometimes they say santa doesn't come to our house sometimes they go on and on about what they want. I find myself staying quite just to avoid confrontations with strangers.

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    3. That is a really good question. I am honestly trying to think back to what my kids have said. I think usually they just go on about what they are asking for. I have told them to let others believe and not burst their bubble, since it may hurt feelings. I think they try to stick to that. I do hear them though trying to drop hints to their cousins about how they can figure out if Santa is real or not. My son told his cousin to see if both store Santas looked alike, then he would know. I thought it was funny he was trying to be all stealth like with telling his cousin about Santa.

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    4. Well thankfully my two boys are the younest of the bunch so most of the kids will know by the time my kids believe me that santas not real. I had a talkwith my two year about it today and I said youknow how mickey and donald are only on tv santa is like that too and he replied mater of factly that mickey and donald were very real

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  20. This post is really good. Since our first son was born my husband and I have been trying to decide what to do about the whole christmas thing and now that he is 3 and starting to really understand things it seemed more important than ever to decide what to do. My husband doesn't like the whole santa thing in the first place because he says how can we teach our children not to lie if their earliest memories from childhood are all based on lies (santa, easter bunny, tooth fairy, ect.) So we have decided to "do" santa but make sure that our children know its make-believe. The kids and I spent a very lovely day setting up our nativity scene and discussing the christmas story. I wanted them to understand that even with all the "santa hype" the REAL reason we celebrate christmas was sitting right there on our foyer table.

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  21. Thank you for the post. We also don't "do Santa"(or tooth fairy, easter bunny, etc.). We feel very strongly about being honest with our children and don't want them to feel the pain and grieve the loss of a childhood dream. Instead we have read about St. Nicholas and his generosity towards people. We watch Santa movies and such, but make sure the children know that Santa is much like any other character in kid shows (Bob the builder, mickey mouse, etc). Christ is our focus, while we don't exclude the other fun parts of the season. When my oldest started school we were criticized by other parents because our kid was ruining Christmas for them. My response was that we have the right to teach our children our beliefs and are not obligated to lie to them, simply because it is socially acceptable. If we were Jewish or Atheist we would be afforded the right to our beliefs, without hesitation, especially at Christmas time. As Christians we should be treated equally and not discriminated against for teaching our children our belief system. In addition to which, teaching and modeling honesty should be applauded, not discouraged. After my explanation of my position, the other parent showed great understanding and was even supportive. It's funny how people can't argue with the truth.

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  22. I also added a link to this page from my christmas post on my blog I hope you don't mind :)

    Www.teamdement2011.blogspot.com

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  23. We do Santa very similar I would love to share it with you you can find it in my christmas post on my blog where I left the link for your page here. Would love to chat more with you. My email is kendradement@me.com ttyl love!

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Thank you so much for all your sweet comments. I read every.single.one. They rock my socks! Thanks!

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