Ready or not, the holiday season is upon us once again. Costco has been in full swing mode for the past month, every aisle filled with all you need for “the most wonderful time of the year”.
Although it is the most wonderful time of the year and I absolutely LOVE Christmas, there once was a time I dreaded it.
It started after an encounter while standing in the checkout line at a local grocery
store. A kind woman innocently asked my three-year-old sons, “What is Santa bringing you for Christmas?”
They simply stared at her, dumbfounded by the question.
I scrabbled to bridge the awkward silence, “We haven’t really talked about that yet, have we, boys?”
It was a true statement – we hadn’t talked about Santa yet. Because we didn’t celebrate Santa. You see, I grew up understanding the meaning of Christmas to be all out Jesus. My siblings and I didn’t visit Santa at the mall or fill out wish lists to mail to Him at the north pole or set out cookies and milk on Christmas Eve.
And I’m okay with that; I enjoy celebrating Christmas for what it is – Jesus’ Birthday.
But, wanting to avoid future awkward grocery-store-checkout-line conversations, I began
researching the history of Christmas and Santa. I found a children’s book, Why Do We Call It Christmas? by Phil Vischer. It beautifully explained how the Santa we know today evolved from Saint Nicholas, a Catholic Bishop who generously gave to his community in need. Once, he tossed a money bag into the house window of a few poor girls, the coins landing in the stockings they had hung out to dry. Hence, our tradition of stocking-stuffers.
Saint Nick gave to others out of love, just as John 13:34 commands: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. Because of God’s great love for us, He gave the gift of salvation through his Son, Jesus.
As I read the book to by sons, warm, fuzzy feelings filled my heart because nothing the world does to secularize Christmas will eliminate the root of it all – Jesus’ birth.
Now, we are prepared for holiday season – my sons know who who Santa is and I don’t mind celebrating him – because doing so doesn’t take away from Jesus when we understand history.
And God wouldn’t have it any other way!