I was doing a little shopping yesterday and happened to overhear a conversation about Santa between a young girl (maybe age 7 or 8) and her grandfather...
"Grandpa, is Santa older than you are?" The man chuckled and said, "No. Santa is oooold. Santa is older than Jesus." She became thoughtful and replied, "But Santa isn't older than God. Because God was never born." Grandpa, in his aged wisdom replied, "Oh... well, I don't know about that. Maybe Santa is older than God."
I didn't overthink this one. I just blinked and moved on. However, it did prompt me to reflect yet again on our decision to completely separate the story of Santa from the person of Jesus Christ as we raise our children. We have decided simply never to deceive them about it and as a consequence, they do not "believe" in a magical Santa Claus.
I wrote a full post about this topic in 2009 here: Bah! Humbug! Dissin' Santa
And please remember... it's not an attack on your family traditions, but simply an explanation of ours.
If people aren't horrified by our mean parenting approach when it comes to Santa, they are often a little taken aback by our gift-giving practices. We gift three gifts and a modest stocking, which really is plenty, but sounds a little slim when weighed against common practices. Three gifts in imitation of the three gifts given to Jesus by the Magi.
I wish I could have been at the station last week when the men were giving the Chief a hard time about this. They were a little surprised about the minimal three gifts. They were horrified by the idea that one of the three gifts is a "book box." They couldn't fathom that a child might take delight in such a thing. I appreciate their humor and the retelling was hilarious, particularly because I can understand why they would think as they do. But the truth is that our kids are a little unusual in that they actually love their book boxes. :)
I've written more about our Christmas and gift-giving practices here: How We Stay Sane on Christmas Morning: Large Family Gift-Giving
A Christ-Centered Christmas
This will be our first true Midnight Mass this year. Professor has been working with Father to make sure all the smells, bells, and beautiful things are in place. The ancient cassocks and surplices for the altar boys were brought out of the basement and are being dry cleaned. Extra torches are being unearthed. Cookie will be singing with the Schola. I predict that no one in our family will fall asleep. Christmas Eve Mass has always been our "magical" night and they won't want to miss a thing.
One of the things the children look forward to is presenting their little gifts to the Christ-Child at church. I've written about it here...
Gifts for the Christ Child
What Happened to Her Gift for the Christ Child
Our Christmas time is usually messy and a little harried, but definitely joyful. We have a very few strong traditions but the rest is rather flexible. I'd love for one of my children to look back someday and write about which memories were the most meaningful. I'd love to read that story and remember with them.