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!