(and this mother is taking it back!)
The whole town is there, young and old, the children climbing onto the stage and playing the piano and dancing around the Christmas tree.
Santa arrives at seven o’clock in his red suit and his white beard and long black boots. He’s jolly and he sits in his chair, the kids all lined up.
I’m holding Kasher and Aiden’s got his hand in mine, and Joey and Jin are up ahead. Aiden keeps asking if he’ll get a present. I tell him Santa will give him a bag of candy.
Aiden starts to whimper when we get to the front of the line because he’s scared of Santa, and Kasher and Jin they’re kicking and screaming as we place them on Santa’s lap promising treats if they smile for the camera.
And in the van on the way home, the boys tucked in the back, my stomach is sick. Why is it so important to us that they sit on Santa’s lap? We’re bribing them, saying they’ll get candy if they sit on this nice stranger, when normally we tell them not to take candy from strangers? Something about this isn’t right.
My sons know Santa isn’t real because I’ve told them very bluntly. And what I should have said was that Saint Nicholas WAS real – that he in fact, loved Jesusand that was why he gave gifts away and inadvertently started the tradition of Santa Claus.
But I didn’t. I just told them Santa was pretend and Jesus was real because inasmuch as I love the festivity – inasmuch as I love the idea of Santa and his sleigh and his reindeer, and the blessing of children with gifts – I’m a little bit angry at how Santa has stolen the heart of Christmas.
I envy the magic of it all, truly. I always wished growing up my parents would have let me believe he was real and here I am bursting my kids’ bubbles. But the thing is: Jesus Christ, the son of God, gets just two days a year.One day in which the whole world celebrates his birth, and one day in which we celebrate the end of his life on earth.
Christmas is God’s birthday, and I know it didn’t happen on the 25th of December but for one day, much of the world pauses to gather together and celebrate. To remember the Christ-child, the Messiah in the manger. As Ann Voskamp puts it, the micro and macro miracle.
“I want to be different,” I tell Trent that night, after we’ve tucked our boys all sticky from candy canes and oranges, “even if it means being unpopular. Because we’ve got one life in which to raise our kids.”
I want Jesus to be the one holding my sons at Christmas. I want his to be the face they anticipate Christmas morning, I want the nativity to be cherished and the Christ-child adored, because Saint Nicholas would have wanted it this way. He gave, because Christ first gave to us.
Let’s take back Christmas.
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