01 December 2011

Do I tell them the truth?

Last year, we started a new tradition.... and I almost forgot about it this year.
Have you ever heard of the Elf on the Shelf? Well, he/she arrived last year in our house and was named.....

... but I couldn't remember! I had to go back to my post from last year (here) to find out that it got the name 'Olli'. I still like it. I got the calendars ready, but I forgot to pull Olli out last night, so I did this morning, and Coqui still hasn't found it yet. I am waiting for his excited cry out. (If not, I have to point it out to him.)

But with this and so many other traditions, there comes a little bit of a battle, on many levels, emotionally, spiritually, and culturally.

Most kids grow up knowing who Santa is and believe that he really exists. Santa has different names all over the world, but the idea is the same: a good guy in a red suit that gives gifts to the behaved children and spanking or coal or whatever not-so-nice thing to the ones that misbehaved. In Germany, he is called Weihnachtsmann or Saint Nikolaus, in French Pere Noel, in Russian it's Ded Moroz, and in Spain El Nino Jesus. So the elf Olli is suppose to help Santa keep track of those children and if they are behaving, or not.

So what threw me off was the idea of a guy having almost the same power as God. As Christians, we know the reason for this season, and the reason is called Jesus. So it is sad, to me, that we (me included) forget, sometimes. For me it is especially an (extra) effort to make the transition from my childhood memories that were so not God-focused and more traditional and cultural, to a God-driven attitude of celebrating Jesus' birth.
So about two weeks ago, I announced in my support group that I wanted to tell my kids the TRUTH about Santa. That did not go over well! We do live in the bible belt, and (most of) these women are believers, but they did not like me taking away from the magic of Christmas. What magic? Is Santa suppose to be the magic? Why do we need that? I don't think of my childhood memories as magic, they are just special. And shouldn't the birth of Jesus be magic? I mean any birth is a miracle, a miracle of God, of a human being entering this world as a creation of God. That is true magic!

I don't remember when I found out the truth, I really don't. It might have been a gradual process where one hears things at school and wonders for a long time, until the parents finally give in and tell what is really going on at Christmas. I DO remember, though, finding the secret hiding place of my parents - the place where they kept the presents that they had bought for us. Then I remember watching them through the keyhole carrying those presents, wrapped now, from their bedroom to the living room. So maybe this is how I found out. But I do not remember to be sad or anything. There was no breaking of the spell..... the magic (and I wouldn't have called it this way as a child) was not gone! Christmas was still special to me.

Today, as a mom myself, and especially as a Christian mom, I want my kids to know about Jesus first, then about the 'joy of giving', and then about receiving gifts!

So now I want to know from you, how you learned about the truth. Was it a shock? And did it destroy any magic? Or did you never know who Santa is?
And if you are a parent - when are you planning on telling your children the truth? 

Also: I want to send you to my friend's blog post from today: Beth wrote about a neat advent book in order to keep the thought of Jesus close to our hearts. Please check it out, here.


C. Beth said...

I have mixed feelings about it...too much to put in this comment! We'll have to discuss it....

Lucy said...

Nice blog! I left my comment in your Facecbook.Lucy

SurvivorBlessing said...

from LUCY:
I understand you Ann. It is your choice. Birth of Jesus is a big and exciting event we celebrate each year, and this is the most important about Christmas. Start with that! I would say that Santa is coming to celebrate the same reason, I would let them grow up a little more and find out by them selves the truth.

SurvivorBlessing said...

From Leo:
Ok so here's the thing Annie Bananie .. You and (the Hubby) work really hard to get the children everything they need and want. If you would like for "Santa" to get all the credit, then go for it! You two are the super heros in their lives, not this figure that Man has used for commercial reasons. You have gone through way too much at this point and your children are old enough and smart enough to understand and appreciate the gifts that are Mommy and Daddy. I would give anything to have grown up with parents like you. Just saying!

SurvivorBlessing said...

From Marie:
You know we grew up similar with parental views....I think it comes from having german families. When I was maybe 2 or 3, I might have believed in Santa but I think I just knew after a while that he wasn't real. And like you I knew where my parents hid the presents so that wasn't hard to figure out who the real santa was if I had any doubts anyways lol. As for our kids, we've always been honest about Christmas. The story of St. NIcholas is true, its the commercialized Santa Claus that isn't true. So we've shared the story of St. Nicholas, that he was a very loving person, that he knew about Gods love, about how he blessed so many children that wouldn't have had a Merry Christmas. That what he really did was show love to those that needed love. And his way to show love to those children was to give them gifts. Even in the tv show of santa clause its amazing because that's what they show too for the real purpose of giving gifts, he brought toys to bring love and joy back to the children. It was about releasing love, unconditional love. We then explained that gifts are only way that we can show love but that the greatest gift of love ever shown was when Jesus was born and when he died on the cross. And then we encourage them to find a way to show love through out christmas. Whether its writing a letter to someone who needs it, drawing a picture to cheer someone up, giving a gift, helping someone in need...its about love. We also tell them that the story of St. Nicholas was loved by so many that after he passed away people wanted to carry on his tradition and that tradition led to the santa we see in stores and on tv. So santa is a great story, its a great reminder to always find ways to show love. But true christmas love comes from knowing Jesus love in you and sharing that love. Even our christmas gifts are simple, everyone has to make one gift (gift of love) and then they can buy a small gift to add to it (even us parents have to make a gift lol). My kids started to fully understand what christmas really was around Coqui's age...so you are right on time for this. My son told me last year how much he enjoys christmas more now that he's able to make it special for someone else. Once truth is released it catches fire and its amazing how far it will carry.

jolav.blog said...

My dashboard works today! Well, I do not remember at all, if I had the whole Santa thing pushed on us, as kids altogether. It was for different reasons, of course, and any even semi-religious annotations were not permitted in the eighties under the soviets. But, even without Santa, today I still love X-mas, and the real meaning of it. So, if you do say, that there is no Santa, the magic will not disappear for them. And they could still play finding Olli, just for the kick of it!