A couple days before Christmas, I posted a status update to my facebook page. It came after a long day and my kids had just thrown a fit about me not buying a new toy...two days before Christmas. I had just about had it with the overall Christmas greediness. The post says:
"Guess what! We didn't put up a tree this year or hang stockings, AND I told my kids there was no Santa...they aren't ruined and still just as greedy as ever!"
The 46 comments that followed really shocked me. Most of the commenters were furious that I had cancelled Christmas, busted my childrens bubble about a make believe Santa (and all other characters), and didn't understand why I would even buy gifts if I didn't decorate or have an elf on the shelf.
It all started like this...
One evening before Thanksgiving, my husband and I spent time in prayer and fasting about how to 'do' Christmas this year. We decided to sit our three children down and break the news that there was no Santa. We explained that we celebrate Jesus' birth as the real reason for Christmas. We wouldn't be putting up a Christmas tree because we felt God wanted us to worship Him, the Creator, instead of His creation--a tree. We wouldn't be hanging stockings, because no man dressed in a red suit, would be coming down our chimney to decide if we had all been good or bad that year and what kind of gifts he thought we deserved. No, our focus this year was to be solely on Jesus Christ, the Messiah, and his precious birth. We weren't going to share His special day with a make believe Santa and his awnery elves.
Ehhh...scratch all of that! First of all, we are not that holy. Secondly, my marriage is not that easy.
Here's what really happened...
Rewind to last Easter: the Easter Bunny has never, ever, visited our house...not once. He goes to other houses and brings gifts for our children there, but never our house. We've never talked about the Easter Bunny, never encouraged him. There was never any spiritual discussion about this between my hubby and me. I'm the one generally in charge of gifts and buying needs and wants for our kids. I never thought there a reason to buy Easter gifts. We celebrate Easter as our Savior's resurrection, and Easter is my FAVORITE holiday of the year! I still don't know where a bunny and eggs come from, although we do have fun hunting eggs after church on Easter Sunday. Anyway, the boys mentioned/noticed that we don't get a visit from the Easter Bunny and asked about it. Simply, I said, "we celebrate Jesus' resurrection on Easter. Remember how He died on a cross, was burried and then rose from the dead?! A bunny doesn't come to our house." And that was that.
Fast forward a few lost teeth and the boys say "Is it really you that brings us money for our teeth or a real tooth fairy?" I smiled and said, "It's really me or daddy. The tooth fairy is make believe and fun to pretend about, but not real. I save your teeth in a baggy in that dresser drawer. Don't worry, I will still give you money for your lost teeth."
And they were all smiles, like they knew something the other kids didn't know.
Then comes Thanksgiving, and a few days after I decided to hang our Christmas Tree. The three kids and I came up with this:
Of course I posted this to instagram, which posted to my twitter, and then to my facebook page. Like 2 people noticed our "tree". Why did we hang a construction paper tree? Well, the year before my 19 month old had knocked down our fake tree about 8 times, broke the trunk, and broke about 2 dozen Christmas ornaments. THIS was going to be our tree this year and maybe I'd put our broken tree out on our enclosed front porch if I got around to it. All of that stuff is in our basement and I'm 7 months pregnant so I wasn't too ambitious to drag it all out. We don't have a fireplace mantel and between this year and last year, I lost the hooks that we hung our stockings with on peg board. Sooooo, that's how a real (fake) tree with ornaments didn't get put up and our stockings didn't get hung. I did accumulate a few new decorations that I DID put out this year, like an advent calendar and some floral arrangements from my sister's wedding. The kids and I even made a few ornaments that we put on magnets on our fridge...which all got broke. And you know why nobody in our house seemed to care that we had minimal decoratios this year? Because this wasn't the first year that this momma didn't get around to putting up a tree. This is like the 3rd or 4th time in the last 10 years that I didn't put up a tree and stockings. We just don't get to it some years. As for the idea of Santa, although when we started buying real gifts a couple years ago (yep...started buying a couple years ago...we usually only spent a minimal amount of money on our kids' gifts because they got soooo much from so many others that we didn't need to, and they were too young to really care.) we DID occassionaly put "From Santa" on a couple gifts...like twice, ever. We never really encouraged Santa, and he came to other peoples' houses with gifts for my kids anyway. We saw Santa a couple times at the dinner at our park, but otherwise never visited Santa. We never put much thought into Santa. And when those elves started coming around? The naughty ones turned me off and I just thought it was ridiculous...that's how we don't have an elf on the shelf.
Presents? Well, like I said, that's actually something we started doing a couple years ago. In fact, I can't think of a birthday where we actually bought our kids a birthday gift. There were probably some along the way, but we always throw a party and others bring gifts. We buy whatever our kids need, and a lot of what they want, throughout the year, so spending more just because it's their birthday isn't something we tend to do. One year I suggested instead of buying Christmas gifts for family, we donate those funds to charities...one you could pick an animal to give to a family in Africa that would feed and provide income for the family. The adults didn't like that idea and actually said that they'd prefer presents for themselves. So to this day, we still buy presents for our friends and family who have way more than they need while others actually starve to death.
Overall, I don't like sharing Jesus' birthday with a make believe character. So when the boys asked if there was "REALLY a Santa", I told them "nope! I want you to know that I don't lie to you. I want you to know that the Easter Bunny, tooth fairy, and Santa are not real, but that our Jesus Christ is VERY real. JESUS is the reason we have Easter and Christmas!" I never wanted them to think "well mom lied to us about Santa so who's to say that there really isn't a God either?!" God is the ONE True thing that IS for real and that is constant!
And that's how our Christmas went this year. After Christmas I got a bunch of lights for outdoors next year...all on sale. My hope is that it will be warm enough for hubby and I to hang them nex year. Afterall, we've ever only hung outdoor lights ONE TIME...EVER!
We didn't and don't boycott Christmas. It's a stressful holiday and I hate how we've made it. I hate the business, the greed, the overwhelming feeling I get each year. I'm soooo thankful that we have a day devoted to the birth of Christ though! And we try to keep that the focus of the holiday season, whether we have a tree and stockings or not.
Love and Happy New Year,