Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What is the true meaning of Christmas?

In the December 2010 issue of Parents magazine, a question / answer block discussed a parent who was concerned about explaining that Santa is real without coming right out and lying to him.  The answer was provided by Glen Eliot, M.D. Ph.D., who is the chief psychiatrist and medical director of Children's Health Council in Palo Alto, California.  He stated that it was important for the son to understand that it's not Santa that Christmas is all about... "it's the qualities he represents -- such as caring and generosity."  REALLY?

Disney's Family Fun Dec. 2010 / Jan. 2011 issue featured an article entitled, "Readers' Favorite Holiday Traditions" in which ten families shared their traditions for reconnecting with the true meaning of the holiday.  These traditions range from decorating for the holidays, to helping those in need, to refocusing on family.  One mom even commented that she and her husband started their tradition to help their family "focus on the true meaning of the season -- helping others."  AMAZING.

While all of these traditions and focus on being nice and doing good are honorable, not once did either of these articles ever get close to the real meaning of Christmas. Christmas is not about caring or generosity, or decorating your yard and putting up a tree, or selecting just the right gift for each person.  Sure, all of these activities are fun symbolic ways to mark the season,  but the real meaning of Christmas is JESUS!!

Several years ago my dear friend Melissa wowed me by saying that she didn't have her children believe in Santa.  My kids had always gotten up on Christmas morning to find brimming stockings and piles of toys under the tree, and my initial reaction, was wow! how sad that they would miss that.  But then I thought about it.  And then I talked to my husband about it.  And we realized that Melissa was on quite the right track.

And so, as my oldest two didn't really believe in Santa anymore anyway, we decided it was a good time to segue into our family focusing on the real meaning of Christmas.  My three little ones (well, okay two of them -- the baby is oblivious) know that Santa is a fun story, but he is not bringing them anything on Christmas. 

The kids will  still get up on Christmas morning and get stockings full of stuff and there is already a huge pile of presents under my tree.  But their stockings are anchored around a small nativity.  And on Christmas Eve instead of putting out cookies for the jolly old fake guy, we'll be making a birthday cake for the King of Kings.  As each member of the family takes a turn at opening presents, we will reflect upon the Magi coming to a baby Jesus many years ago.  We've already been having conversations about why Jesus was born, and what His birth, life, death, resurrection, and upcoming return means to us and for us.  My five-year-old Emma especially is asking questions to piece it all together.

So while the tree with its colorful balls is pretty, and the packages are wrapped with bright, pretty paper.  And we've watched Santa movies (The Polar Express is on at this moment.), thank goodness my family knows that the true meaning of Christmas is JESUS!!!!

"But the angel said to them," Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy tht will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you, he is Christ the Lord."
                                                                                                       Luke 2: 10-11