I tried to not do Santa with my kids. I did. Not really out of any super spiritual reason, or because I am trying to keep Jesus centered or whatever. I just….I don’t know, I found the whole thing exhausting. It is the same reason we don’t do Elf on the Shelf. It just feels like a lot of work.
But a few years ago when Juliet asked me if Santa was real, and I told her no, she looked me dead in the face and said “Well, lets just pretend? Okay?” And then proceeded to pick up something I had gotten her not even for Christmas and shout “Santa came! Santa came!” And that has been the Norman house rule ever since. Santa, the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny, these are games we play because they are fun.
So, imagine my surprise when we were lighting the advent candles this past Sunday, and we were explaining about the birth of Jesus, how Christmas is Jesus’s birthday and Priscilla looked up surprised, “YOU MEAN JESUS IS REAL!” Apparently she thought it was all pretend.
Oh. Total Christian blogger fail. My four-year-old was not totally clear on whether or not Jesus was like Santa, a game we just pretend (regardless of the fact that I wrote the children’s advent book at our last church). I guess we have some advent work to do.
Advent. Does just the word make you sweat a little? Like what the heck am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to move an Elf around the house for twenty four days? Or do a fun activity every day for twenty-four days? Or something spiritual? Or BOTH? What the HECK December? I can’t even get dinner on the table before 7 pm for twenty four days, okay? Let alone do something holiday related. It just isn’t going to happen without me totally losing my mind.
And I am not doing that. This year the goal is Sane for the Holidays. If it makes me sweat just thinking about it, it is off the table. I am hoping to light the candle 5 of the 7 days of the week and have a very simple conversation about How Jesus is REAL and his birthday is Christmas. That is it. There is a story book someone gifted me two years ago with 24 stories. We will see if we get to them. No pressure, just because we like stories.
For me, I am trying for five minutes of silent reflection a day. Two days ago I got that by shutting myself in my car during my planning period. Yesterday I tried after I put the kids to bed, but they weren’t silent and I fell asleep at the dining room table. I took that as a sign from God that I should go to bed before 8. So I blew out the candle and headed upstairs. God met me there.
This season comes with so much expectation. It is okay. We are doing okay. You are enough. I promise. Throughout December I will be featuring stories about staying sane for the Holidays. If you want to contribute, please let me know!
So yes! I put the tree up 2 weeks before Christmas, and take it down the day after. This year, with a new kitten, I am not sure it should go up at all! I do nearly all of my shopping on the internet- amazon and I are nearly best friends. I don’t bake cookies, I try to cook supper every night. Just like all the other nights all year long. And we talk about Jesus every single day. Cause Christmas, God with us, is every. single. day. For reals.
I loved cutting evergreens to decorate the Advent wreath, and lighting the candle, and Santa’s Secret Shop, and gift wrapping. Lots of anticipation, I can see now that I’m an adult.
We do all that the guy above me doesn’t do and more–because it’s fun, because it brings the family together, because the giant party in the middle of the month brings our friends together, because making cookies with my aging mom brings us together, because driving around and looking at Christmas lights makes us happy, because caroling with our friends makes us–and the people in the homes we visit–happy. Why make it so complex, why be so dour and solemn? The expectation isn’t perfection–the joy comes from the doing, not any kind of glossy idealized end result. I don’t believe what you guys believe, which I’m sure renders my opinion invalid, but the goal in my life isn’t to minimize how special Christmas is, but the maximize how much Christmas attitude–joy, love, the whole shebang–I carry with me into the rest of the year.
You do you! It sounds like you get a lot of joy out of your things. That is awesome. A friend of mine LIVES for Elf on the shelf, she is totally delighted by it. It sounds like you have that totally on lock, I sometimes get the togetherness and the perfection all mixed up and miss the joy. I love that you don’t. I need to learn about that.
LOVE THIS. I sent it to my sister, who also has two young daughters and approaches these things a lot like you do. 🙂