Christmas is a holiday that you can choose to love or choose to dread. There are many ways you can celebrate the holidays and there is no wrong reason or right reason, in my opinion.
I have gone back and forth since having my own children on whether we want to include Santa Claus in our family celebrations. I’ve had many discussions and read many articles on both sides of the line. We celebrated Santa when I was a child and I don’t remember all the toys I received. I don’t remember whether Santa ate the cookies and drank the milk. I don’t remember visiting Santa at the mall. I honestly don’t remember all the details that as a parent I tend to think are important. I don’t even remember being that upset when I finally stopped believing!
The thing I most remember is the magic and excitement of Christmas.
Certainly the cookies and visiting Santa and all the things surrounding the idea of Santa helped make the magic seem more real. I remember the mystery and magic of all Santa was. I believed in Santa longer than most (I will not tell you how old I was)! I remember the excitement and anticipation of Christmas morning, and I remember waking up in the early dawn filled with happiness and joy and excitement. I remember seeing the presents under the tree and the stockings filled with all kinds of goodies!
I think I probably stopped believing in Santa before I let myself or anyone else believe it. I think I just wanted to savor that part of childhood because once the magic is gone, it changes Christmas. Christmas is still exciting and joyful. But it changes the magic of Christmas. It changes the mystery and feeling of something so good and pure. I think I knew that life would change, not because of that specific holiday or the fact that I chose to not believe in Santa anymore. More so, I knew once I decided to not believe in the magic, I would have to grow up a little. I would be leaving a little bit of my childhood behind.
I still love Christmas and the holiday season. After all, Christmas is the only major holiday where the focus is on giving (at least that’s what most people try to attain anyway). It’s the one holiday I let myself lavishly give to my family (some years the budget allows this more than other times). I am by no means saying you need to spend hundreds of dollars or bust your budget. The word lavish is about more than money and material things. The definition of lavish is about giving in great amounts. Sometimes the greatest lavishness we can give ourselves and our families is simply love. Love as an action and a verb, not a feeling or noun. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13)
Now that I have young children of my own, I feel like some of the magic is back.
I want my children to understand love and giving and this is a great time of year to teach those concepts. I want to see their faces on Christmas morning filled with awe and excitement. I want to share in those magical traditions that I remember as a child. I want it to be perfect. Our tree is filled with decorations and sparkly ornaments and childlike ornaments, a collection of things from my childhood and adulthood and the ornaments my children are starting to collect. It is by no means a perfect tree. While I was decorating our tree this year, at the point when we had about five ornaments on it, my three year old stops and stares, and says, “Our tree is just perfect!” That’s the kind of perfect I want. She didn’t need all the tinsel and perfectly arranged ornaments. She didn’t need 1000 lights. We don’t even have a tree skirt as I seem to have misplaced it. She doesn’t need the tree to be “picture perfect” and she won’t need the biggest and most expensive presents under the tree.
Our tree is perfect because it is our tree and our stories and time together. It is the love that went into the tree that matters. That’s what I want my children to remember about Christmas and Santa. To me, it is more about what Santa represents. He is love and giving and sharing. This is how our family chooses to celebrate the Holidays.