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.