Friday, December 21, 2007

I Believe!

Is Christmas really just a few days away? What a busy year it has been. Time sure flies when you’re having fun—and working full-time, raising a baby girl, and trying to keep up with family, friends, and church activities.

Of course this year is Jodi’s first Christmas. What a beautiful little blessing she is to our family! Every day I look at her in awe and thankfulness that God gave her to us.

With a new baby at Christmas come the questions about Santa. “Is Jodi going to see Santa?” “What is Jodi getting from Santa this year?” Many people just assume we will teach her that Santa is real. While I know lots of Christian people whom I love and respect see no harm in doing this, I have some pretty strong feelings about it myself. I came across a journal entry of mine about this that I wrote after I saw the movie The Polar Express in November 2004. I thought I’d share my three-year-old thoughts with you because they’re on my heart even more so today as a new parent in a world that tries harder and harder to take Jesus out of everything yet still wants something to believe in.

November 22, 2004
We saw The Polar Express on Saturday, and it was okay. I wanted to see it because I remembered the book from when I was little, and I thought the computer animation looked like it would be cool. It's funny that I even like to watch those movies at all because I really don't like all the Santa Claus hype. I have vowed never to teach my future children that Santa Claus is real. My parents never did, but we always pretended and had fun with it and put out cookies that "Santa" (aka Dad) ate after we were tucked in bed on Christmas Eve. So the Santa stuff was just a fun, pretend part of Christmas, but we always knew the true meaning of Jesus' birth.
If you remember the story or see the movie, the whole point of the boy's journey on the Polar Express is to help him truly believe in Santa because he has become a doubter. At the climactic moment of the movie--when the boy, who cannot hear the joyous jingling of Santa's sleigh bells because he hasn't accepted the "truth" of Santa cries out, "I believe, I believe!" as he realizes his doubt and misbelief is wrong--I leaned over to Doug and said, "This movie is just one more example of how the world is searching for Jesus but puts everything else in His place." Especially Santa at Christmas. And so, someday my children might know the fun fantasy of Santa and chimneys and sleigh bells, but they will know much more about the baby in a bed of straw and the man to whom they can truly say "I BELIEVE!"

Have a very Merry CHRISTmas!


J writer said...

I too agree that it's very important, especially as christians, to know what we believe and where we stand with ALL things, so that we can be a good example to our children and those around us. My husband and I have only been married a year, with no children of our own, but we have already prepared ourselves for that very common question that children ask this time of year... Is Santa real?
Well if you do your home work you'll see that there was in fact a man in history named, St.Nicholas that was a bishop who dedicated his life to giving to others. However, since those days, people have told many different versions of the true story eventually making it what it is today. I believe our kids should know the truth about Santa and understand that he was just a man celebrating what Christmas and life is really about and that is Jesus Christ. After all He is the reason for the season :)

The Imaginary Blog said...

We treated it as a part of our cultural lore and let them have their Santa experience, but the kids figured it out really fast anyway, thanks to the fact that I raised two snoops who found the "Santa" presents and figured it out immediately.

And they didn't seem surprised or disappointed at all. They know, after all, who the Star of Christmas is!

Whatever you end up doing, as long as you focus on Jesus (and I know you will!), Jodi will be absolutely fine and well-grounded.

Have a wonderful Christmas!

JanetS (Notice how I didn't even begin to rant about the difference between the book and the movie regarding the bell. Oh wait, too late. For those who know The Polar Express only as a movie, please please please read the book. There's a crucial difference that changes everything--book is MUCH better!)

Jess said...

I treasure my Santa memories. We always waited eagerly for Santa as we sat in a circle and read the story of Jesus' birth. And because we always went from Louisiana to Texas for Christmas, we juggled Santa in all places. I would always let Jim back the car out of the drive and then I'd say, "Oh wait, I forgot something." Then while he and Chaney sat and waited, I'd run back in the house and spread out the Santa stuff so it would be there when we got back home after Christmas.

I personally think we worry way too much about such things as Santa. Children naturally out-grow the old guy. If they don't by the time they're in the first or second grade, believe me they'll catch trouble from their young peers. But kids don't out-grow Jesus if He's kept front and center of Christmas.

I believe in Frosty, the toothfairy, the Easter Bunny and Santa...and I believe Jesus gave me the love for these 'fictional characters' so I could show His love to those I love.

My 2 cents because I love Jesus and Santa and I have fun with both of them.

Whatever you do will be the right thing because you love Jodi. Enjoy your first Christmas with your precious gift from God. :)

Cara Putman said...

JoAnne, you're wise to wrestle with those decisions now. We've never celebrated Christmas with Santa -- as a kid my mom decided not to do that becuase if we learned she'd lied to us about Santa, she didn't want us assuming she'd lied to us about the crucial things like God, Jesus, the cross, etc.

This year was the first we've seen how much this has sunk in with our kids. Abigail's 7 so it's old hat to her. Santa's a story, but not real. Jonathan is 4 and at his preschool the teacher does a wonderful job about telling the kids the real meaning of Christmas but then doing Santa and all the other stuff too. Well, he is absolutely focused on the fact that she lied, because Santa is not real. His conviction has been fun to watch. I guess he really gets it.

Pam Hillman said...

JoAnne, I like how you explained that. I don't remember ever truly believing in Santa, but he was a fun part of pretend at Christmas.

I had cousins who (seemed) to truly believe in Santa, and I was too polite to tell them the truth! I didn't want to burst their bubble on Christmas Eve.

Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

My parents played Santa. When I wrestled the truth out of my mom, I was a truly disappointed. I felt like they had lied to me my whole life.

We played Santa for my daughter until she turned four. I felt convicted and explained the true story about St. Nicholas. I told her that Santa at the North Pole with flying reindeer were just stories. I also explained the importance of respecting what other parents tell their children.

I told her that God is the one who provides our jobs and really helps us make a way to buy gifts. She's ten now, and this year, the tag on her gift said, From: Celina and God.

Of course, she knows about the birth of Jesus and the true meaning of Christmas, but I want her to be able to apply Christian principles to her childhood and her life now.

JoAnne, I felt the exact same way as you did when I first saw Polar Express". Blessings to you as you make these important decisions for your precious little girl.

Anonymous said...

That's a good subject to tackle while the kids are too little to think about it. They'll hear it from their friends, of course, whatever you decide to do. We taught our boys about the real Saint Nicholas, and how it tied in to our traditions of gift-giving; how we honor the Christ child today by treating each other at this time of year. We never regretted it, because Santa was a real person and deserved to be remembered in truth. I was surprised to find out that my new daughter-in-law, who's from a family of missionaries and a slightly more strict tradition of faith than ours, shared with us that she believed in Santa until she was eight. Surprises and wonders never cease!
Best wishes,
Lisa Lickel