This journey across the country is for us, in part, learning to live differently and perhaps better. That is not an easy task and bad habits are hard to break. One part of changing habits is re-evaluating everything. And during this season we are taking the opportunity to re-evaluate Christmas and digging a little deeper into how we want to present Christmas to our children and the memories we want to leave with them. And so far, we are determining that simpler is better. And when you live in an RV, that’s really easy to do.
Simple is an interesting transition coming from previously living in Grapevine, Texas (the Christmas Capital of Texas)! And while we love the Christmas season, celebrating with everyone and enjoying the parades, decorations and embellishments of the season, the closer we get to Jesus, the more we get lost on Santa Claus. And so, we are searching for the balance of making Jesus the center of the Christmas celebration as a family without losing the wonder and childhood excitement of the season.
First, we are focusing all of our Christmas conversations around the birth of Christ and forming a foundation for the Lordship of Christ. As modern evangelical Christians attending more modern non-denominational churches most of our adult lives, the season of Advent is a bit of a foreign language. Advent is typically observed by the high church, Catholics, Methodists and such. As we’ve grown older and been part of church for some time now, we have a longing for more of the sacred in our lives. The frills and showmanship of the modern church are becoming less and less enticing. So, we decided this year to celebrate Advent as a family.
This has been a great way to celebrate Christ as a family, enjoy the Christmas season and take intentional time each and every night before bedtime to worship with our children with Christmas songs and learn parts of the Advent story. Andrea got all artsy and made these Advent cards that we hung on our wall and we read from one card each night leading up to Christmas. The kids get really excited about our Advent time and make sure we don’t miss it! They can’t wait to hear what’s on the card and see what picture is on the other side. The coolest part is they typically come ready with questions.
Secondly, we celebrate with simplicity. We do not and will not spend loads of money, time and energy on decorations and gifts galore. For us, these efforts entirely miss the point of the Christmas season. Our efforts are modest, mostly homemade and simply there to help us recognize a season of celebration and giving.
Lastly, and the big one, what to do about Santa Claus? Here’s the thing. Santa is a nice guy. He’s not the anti-Christ and he does not preach a message contrary to Jesus. He’s fat. He’s fun. And kids love him. While we don’t want to focus on Santa, we will not let religion and legalism kill him off for our children.
That means we let our children enjoy their childhood. We don’t bring up Santa intentionally and we don’t decorate with Santa. But when the kids bring him up, we allow them to ask questions and give answers that keep the mystery going for them. And for now while they are young, they will get small gifts from Santa on Christmas morning. But, the good stuff comes from Mom and Dad! We’ll even leave cookies out for Santa. But when that day comes that they discover it was all just childhood imagination and folklore, that will be fine by us and we’ll make no extended efforts to perpetuate our little white lie.
May you find joy in the celebration of the holiday season with your family. May the Lord bless you and keep you into a new season and a new year. For those who feel the pain of loss during the Christmas season, may God grant you peace.
A very Merry Christmas to you, from the Humbles.