Christmas Wars: Why Everyone Needs to Chill Out About Santa vs. Jesus

Monday, December 15, 2014

We've got ten days until Christmas.  Are you feeling overwhelmed? *hug*

I don't know about you, but it seems like every day I see a new article or blog floating around the Internet about people's take on Christmas traditions:

Why we don't let our children do Elf on the Shelf.  Why we don't lie to out kids about Santa.  Why our kids only get three gifts just like the wise men gave. Why the way we celebrate Christmas is the way Jesus intended it to be celebrated. (Okay, maybe not the last one, but they all pretty much have the same subtext!)

And on and on.

People are all OVER the spectrum on the whole Santa vs. Jesus topic, and their not afraid to spill their guts out about why their approach is the most intricately considered method that will deliberately help mold their child for the better.

Well, that's all quite fine.  But, frankly, as long as you are keeping Jesus and family at the center, then I. JUST. DON'T. CARE. how you go about doing it.  Santa, no Santa.  Elf, no Elf.  Candy and presents, simple Stockings.   Gluten free fruitcake, gingerbread houses.

I'm over it.  I read these articles and I start doubting my parenting.  I get fearful I've already gone too far down the Santa path.  I get anxious I'm accidentally raising spoiled rotten heathens who will grow up to  be liars and thieves.  Am I a hypocrite for hiding the Elf and then taking my kids to church?  Geesh, you gotta be careful who you tell your approach to these days or you might be eternally judged for where you lie on the Santa spectrum!

The number of Nativities in my home makes me no more of a Christian than before.  Asking my kids what they want from Santa for Christmas makes me no less of a Christian either.  And, my kids will not grow up to be psychopaths - well, at least not because our Christmas traditions steered them down the wrong road.  Of this, I am certain.

I'm not here to defend the Elf on the Shelf or tell you that you should hop on the Santa bandwagon or even to get you to realize that (hello?) JESUS is and always will be the true reason for the season.

Choosing Christmas traditions has become just as distracting as the new Target commercials (I can not get "Marshmallow World" out of my head!) We're ALL inundated with ads for toys and deals and food that distracts us from the precious miracle of Christ.  Must we add to this dilemma by filling up the cracks with fear and doubt about how we survive this season?  Do we need to criticize each others' parenting approaches and Christmas customs as part of our Christian duty?  I'm gonna say "um, no."

Parents.  Simmer down

As a mother, I absolutely love this season of celebration with my kids.  As a consumer, I like the glitz and glam and the hubbub of finding the perfect gift for someone. As a Christian, I weep at the thought of how miraculous the true story of Jesus' birth affects me to this day.  As a future Marriage & Family Therapist, I sleep well at night knowing that Santa or Elf on the Shelf are not to blame for the corruption of children everywhere.

There are far more important battles to fight here, folks.  We've all got plenty to lay down at the feet of Jesus and lift up in prayer.  We've got burdens and worries and broken hearts aplenty.  No doubt this world is filled with enough fear and guilt as it is.  Let's let this one go.

Every Christian family celebrates the birth of Christ differently.  And as Believers, we can keep Jesus on center stage while still watching "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" with our kids.  We have the freedom to worship the birth of our Savior and then eat an entire plate of peppermint bark.  We can teach our kids our family traditions (from grandma's cookie recipe to Elf on the Shelf) while keeping the reality of Jesus fresh all year round.

We need no less balance this time of year than any other season in our lives.  Period.

Chill out, guys, it's gonna be okay.  Be merry.  Be bright.  If we can all team up and keep Jesus in our traditions, however that looks, then December 25th will be all the more miraculous.

Separating the Man from the Myth: Why It's Okay to Love Cliff Huxtable

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Like the rest of you, I've been shocked, saddened, and totally in denial of the allegations regarding Bill Cosby that are flooding the media everywhere.  I can't bear to pick up that new People magazine or read any more articles about the 21 (and counting) women who have come forward with horrific accounts.  It makes me sick to my stomach, and not because I know Bill Cosby at all.

But, all I desperately want is for someone to stand up and say "It's okay to still love Cliff Huxtable!" So, that's what I'm doing now.

I don't know Mr. Cosby.  I got to see him perform once, years ago, at the Orange County State Fair.  It was silly, nostalgic, and kind of surreal to see such a legend create comedy out of thin air.  But, beyond the occasional TV interview, I know nothing of the man himself.  To me, Bill Cosby is the myth - unknown, distant, and now completely unrelatable.  I don't know him.

But, I know Cliff Huxtable.  I've seen every episode of The Cosby Show multiple times, like many of you, and I vividly remember wiping tears off my cheeks when I watched the finale on TV.

Cliff Huxtable was kind, brilliant, hilarious, respectful, responsible, and would be completely disgusted at the despicable acts that Mr. Cosby is being accused of.  It would sicken him.  It would make him sit his five children down and discuss the importance of integrity in this mess-of-a-world.

Cliff Huxtable is NOT Bill Cosby.  Cliff Huxtable is the man.  A good man.  The man who brought laughter and truth into my heart and home every week of my childhood.  The man who loved his wife with humor and grace.  The man who taught his children how to make the world a better, safer place.

The Huxtable family didn't just teach me about family dynamics, it taught me about diversity and gender equality.  See, I grew up on a farm in the middle of Kansas.  I went to a high school of 98 kids and graduated with a class size of 16.  (Did I mention this was a public high school comprised of three neighboring towns?)

The reality of growing up like this is that I didn't get to know anyone who wasn't white until college.  (I know - it's even hard for me to believe.)  And almost all the moms I knew didn't work outside the home.  But, because I grew up in a home where love, equality, and integrity were held in high value, I didn't bat an eye when I welcomed the Huxtables into our living room each week.  The Huxtables weren't an "impressive African-American family with a working mother and father" - they were just a family!  They set a norm for me - and an expectation that a "healthy family" can look a lot of different ways.

These truths, these positive memories, these endearing and nostalgic attachments I hold to the television show have nothing to do with the reality of Mr. Cosby today.  Nothing can take that away from me, or you, or our children who might watch reruns with us in the future.  And while I fiercely cringe at the horrifying thought of what may have gone on behind the scenes of his personal life, I refuse to let the headlines strip me away the virtues of the Huxtable family.  You don't get to do that, Mr. Cosby, you can't take that away from us.

So, if no one else is saying it - I'm saying it:  I love Cliff Huxtable.  And when I see hoagies or crazy sweaters in the future, I'm going to smile and embrace my memories with open arms.  In the meantime, I pray justice is served for Mr. Cosby while peace and insurmountable grace be given to those women who have come forward - that's what Cliff would have wanted too.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!


Breaking the Internet and the Hearts of Mothers Everywhere: An Open Letter to Kim Kardashian

Monday, November 17, 2014

Dear Kim,

Let me admit right off the bat that I have zero expectation of you ever reading this.  I understand you are in the one-zillionth percentile of celebrities who could probably care less about normies like myself who have an opinion about our perception of who you are.  This is more than a letter, it's a format for me to use my tiny space on the web to get the word out on how I feel about your recent actions.  So, let's call a spade a spade and get that out of the way.  Fair enough.

You broke the internet this weekend.  You posed for a cover of a magazine and fully exposed your derriere for the world to gawk at.  It's not the first time you've given the masses something to get bug-eyed about, and I'm certain it won't be the last.  But, you broke more than the internet - you broke my heart.

From what I can tell, you and I only have one thing in common - but, it's a big thing (no, not that big thing, my flat booty holds no contest to your curves).  We're both mothers of girls.  We're raising females in a world where individuals with money, looks, and power are considered "successful".

We're raising girls in a society that values dominance and accumulation over integrity and virtue.  And while you and I might stand at very opposite ends of these spectrums, I would gather that you know these things to be true even more than I do.  You're in it.  You're living it.  You are the proof that these things get noticed, shared, and applauded.

But, here's where we part ways.  I don't get how you can do use your platform in that way and raise your daughter in this world.  Why, Kim, why?

There's an astronomical amount I want to teach my daughters, and not one of them has to do with the size of her ass.  I want my girls to know they can be smart and beautiful, full of integrity and authoritative, compassionate and assertive, and while they can play with their Barbies and watch Disney Princesses fall in love, they hold so much more in their unique little hearts than their body will ever ever ever be able to reflect on the outside.  They are more than their booties.  More than their someday-breasts.  More than their clothes, hair, or perfect skin.  Barbie ain't got nothin on my babies!

Kim, you are more than your backside.  You may have first been noticed in the celebrity world because of your curvy booty, but you are greater than the sum of your parts (or one part in particular) if you'd give us a chance to notice that too.  We have NO IDEA who you really are, and you aren't helping us get to know you.  In fact, your backside is preventing us from seeing who you might actually be, and the platform you've been given in this life could be used for so much more for our daughters.

We live vastly different lives, no doubt.  But, you and I have girls who would laugh and play and share silly stories about tutus and dolls if we got together, I guarantee it.  They would color pictures, sing songs, and at the end of the day the glare of the world's view of their value would melt away in the sound of their giggles.  We're not just raising girls, we're raising future mothers too.  No matter what they grow up to look like - whether they have model curves or model noses or model waistlines, let's remember this - we're raising the next generation of role models.

If you could do me and mothers everywhere a favor and just sit on that truth (pun intended, of course) then maybe you can gain some perspective of how crazy and massive this whole parenting thing really is.  I'm not here to hate you cause you're pretty or bash on you cause of the choices you've made.  This isn't some call to judgement about why I think you're a terrible person.  It's an invitation.  An invitation to engage more than your looks and your power - an invitation to take a step towards empowering the girls we're raising to someday become leaders and rockers and artists and musicians and scientists and engineers who change the world for the better.

Then maybe we'll see magazine covers of women exposing their brilliance rather than their bodies.  Maybe it's possible.  Maybe you could help.


Emily Pardy

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