Originally published Monday, 12 December 2011.
It all started at a Christmas party...
The room glowed with the warmth of candles carefully placed on the beautifully decorated table tops.
Three couples took their seats at our table. We small-talked through our salads, discussed holiday plans through the main course and just as desert was starting this question was posed to the group:
So, do you all "do" Santa at your house?
I squirmed a little in my seat, as this was a church group. And … sometimes church-people can get a little opinionated about issues like this.
The brave person sitting next to me decided to enter his thoughts first...
He was very clear that Santa was not an acceptable part of the Christmas season for their family. To him, it seemed to take away the meaning behind the truth of Christmas. His kids had never visited Santa, never received a gift with Santa's name written on it and never spent Christmas Eve nights wondering if he was flying over their heads.
They instead exchanged three gifts [to represent the wise men], read the Christmas story [Luke 1] and sang Christ-filled carols around the fireplace.
The woman sitting next to him [intensely] listened and I could see her biting of her chocolate-turtle-cheesecake was getting slower ... and slower. She carefully placed her fork down and smiled at her husband as she began to roll through her heart-filled emotions on the man in the red suit.
She explained Santa was an enormous role in their Christmas season.
She shared tales of leaving giant, fat footprints of confectioner's sugar down the hallway [to look like snow]. Her husband used to stand outside of the kids windows jingling bells, and had even walked along the roof to make it sound like Santa's sleigh had landed.
It was serious business at their house.
Then she added that although Santa was a huge role on Christmas, she knew her children understood the real meaning behind it [Jesus's birth].
The opposing couple disagreed that her children could not understand the real meaning of Christmas if the focus was not fully on Jesus.
The conversation continued round and round.
As they made their way through this debate, I took note of two things:
Number one, they were both very passionate about what they believed.
Number two, they both believed their children received the best Christmas’s for their childhood.
Knowing these two couples today, Christmas time has always been very special for them. They are both excellent parents and have raised great kids.
As parents with little ones, sometimes it’s hard to know what the right thing to do is. Santa or no Santa?
We can easily get caught up with our traditions. In fact sometimes tradition leaves us a bit stubborn or even a little prideful.
It's easy to take our holiday tradition preferences and turn them into religious laws.
But the fact is: the birth of Jesus is not a tradition. It's a miracle.
The traditions you bring to your family through the celebration of this miracle is probably something that accomplishes exactly what both of my friends did.
They both successfully left warm Christmas memories in their children's hearts that will last ... forever.
When our children are grown and gone they will long for those Christmas nights of singing carols with hot cocoa around a fire. They will miss reading the Christmas story or listening for Santa's foot-steps on the roof. As they pass houses that have lights pinned to the roof, silly snow men blow-ups in the yard, and lighted-wired reindeer -- they will remember you ... your home ... and your traditions.
Those memories will remind them of your love. Your love will in turn remind them of the greatest gift ever given to them, Jesus Christ.
And that, my friends, is something worth debating and the greatest legacy for future generations...