Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Birthday Jesus, Santa and more...

I started with this post a few days ago, and my goal was to do an Advent styled countdown to Christmas, filled with 24 of our favorite traditions, and happenings, and Christmas-y things. That list continues as we get closer and closer to the day we celebrate the birth of our Lord. 

Christmas Lunch at home with our parents.

Singing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus is a family tradition, and the kids get to blow out the candle.

Our annual pajama clad trip to Lake Mary City Hall.

Our family does not "celebrate" Santa. We never have. I thought I'd take a minute to share our reasons why we don't, and here they are...

1. My parents never did Santa when I was growing up, so I have no strong attachments or loving feelings about him. 
2. I don't like the idea of telling my children that they should behave, so that they will get gifts. I want them to behave because it's the right thing to do, not because they will be rewarded for it. And that line of thinking makes my heart hurt for the poor child that thinks because he didn't get any gifts he must not have been good enough.
3. Ultimately, it's a lie, and Bryan & I don't lie to our children. That is probably the biggest reason. I want to be able to tell them when they are three or five or seven, or seventeen, that they can trust me, and that I will not lie to them. Not even when it's fun, or a silly game, or because I don't think they're old enough. I have a really hard time with lying and dishonesty, and I can't expect honesty from my children when they don't get it from me (even if it's just at Christmas, and Easter and every time they loose a tooth). 
4. I want my children to appreciate what has been given to them. If they think they have earned gifts by their own behavior, they aren't going to be grateful to the folks that have worked hard and sacrificed to be able to afford the gifts they receive. I want to teach them now, that hard work earns money, and that generously giving to others is a wonderful thing. 
5. And lastly, Jesus is the reason for the season. I know we've all heard it a million times, but truly, in our home, we just don't have room for Santa. 

There is one truth that we try to constantly point our children towards, at Christmastime and at every other time. The gift of salvation and eternal life is a gift that's free. It can't be earned with good behavior, or lost with bad behavior. It just has to be received. And it's a gift which we are so very grateful for, because someone sacrificed everything to be able to offer it. 

So because of those reasons, we just don't do Santa.

Now, all that being said, I also want to say...
1. I don't hate Santa. I just don't really care either way about Santa. 
2. We teach our children that some kids believe that Santa brings them gifts. We don't. But if their friends' moms and dads want to tell them that, we will not tell them otherwise.
3. We DO NOT teach them that "Santa isn't real". Santa is a character, just like Elmo. There are toys and decorations, and look-a-likes at every turn, so really, the character of Santa is absolutely real. 
4. If you and your family choose to do Santa, I have no ill feelings towards you, and I don't judge. Really. I honestly don't care what other families choose to do.

And one more thing, there's this:

Ahhh! Scandalous! 

We were shopping in Grady's new all time favorite store (Bass Pro Shop) when the little elf came up to my sweet children and asked if they wanted to sit on Santa's lap. They looked at me with big smiles, and I chuckled, and said "sure!" (hoping desperately that they wouldn't spill the beans to Santa about his true self...). They didn't, and we all got a candy cane and a fun little picture. 

A Christmas Commercial Shoot...
Ok, really, this has nothing to do with Christmas, but I'm just sticking it in here. This past week we took a day off of home school for this fun little learning opportunity, and did a commercial for AAA about car seat safety. Reportedly, it will be shown all over the United States and Canada, and could possibly be shown on Good Morning America. Fun stuff. 

We had a really fun time and learned some new things.

Generous Giving.

Gospel for Asia is a ministry that our family has been privileged to support for many years now.  It is one of the VERY few organizations in which 100% of the donations go to the field, and none of them go to administrative costs (unless specifically designated for that).  Gospel for Asia is committed as a family of believers to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with lost men, women and children throughout South Asia who have still not heard His precious name. 

Their mission in life is to be devout followers of Christ and to fulfill the Great Commission among the unreached in Asia through training, sending out and assisting qualified laborers in partnership with the Body of Christ.

If you have a few minutes to visit this website, you will be SO glad that you did. Click on "Gifts from the Stable" and learn more about the value of gifts like chickens and rabbits and goats in these peoples lives. Of course, check out the rest of the "gifts" as well. The gifts that you are able to choose from are real, tangible items that can completely change a life, and they are such a neat opportunity to minister to the needs of the poor in Asia. 

This year, my parents gave our children a total of almost $500 to spend in the GFA Christmas Catalog. The kids took paper and pencil, a calculator and the laptop outside and sat in the sun as we read over all of our gift choices. They discussed each item/animal and it's value, and whether or not it should be included in their list. They added and counted and finally spent all of their money.

This was one of my very favorite "Christmas" moments so far this season. The beauty of watching my children be excited about what they would be able to give to someone else is just precious. The way they discussed what would be most useful or helpful, well it made my heart happy. My parents have always been extremely generous, and that is one character trait that I really want to pass on to my own children, both at Christmas time and all year round. 

Well, Christmas Day is tomorrow, and my little Advent countdown to Christmas is not completed, so I'm thinking it'll just have to be for the month of December! 

For now, from our family to yours,

Merry Christmas!

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