Oh, Christmas time. The time of year where I threaten my children about lumps of coal in their stocking if they don't stop fighting. The time of year where hours are spent googling the best deals on toys, figuring out what to get that hard-to-buy for person, *Mr. Man* and where the seemly joyous holiday becomes a stressful, popping tums like they're candy time of year.
I remember seeing these a few years back. This year, it seems like everyone has an Elf on the Shelf, and a few *genius* teachers have even placed them in their classrooms. I have a bone to pick with the Elf on the Shelf toy makers. Last year, my two eldest sons discovered the Santa sham. It first started when they noticed the "Made in China" tag on their classroom Elf on the Shelf. They discussed several theories in the car on the ride home from school, and then cornered me in the kitchen. "Mom, why does the elf have a made in China sticker?" The gig was up. They asked me if Santa was real. I told them, "No, he's just pretend." "So, you and Dad are really the ones that give us presents?" they asked. "Yes," I said. The six year old questioned the validity of the elf as well, but concluded while the elves are fake, Santa is still real. (There's six year old logic for you.)
Recently, I was really convicted about what my boys knew, and what I was teaching them about Christmas. Santas and toys and elves plagued our Christmas vocabulary, but what did they really know about Christ? I decided we would take a break from our weekly Bible verse memorization, and just discuss the true story of Christmas. We started with Luke 2 verse 1. At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire.
I told the boys Ceaser Augustus was like the President, and he wanted a record of all of the people so he could tax them. I asked the boys, "Why do you think Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem?" Dylan answered, "To avoid paying taxes?" No.
We also discussed why Jesus is called, "The Lamb of God." I told the boys to imagine having a sweet snuggly lamb, and then having to kill it. (Kieran was close to tears.) I told them about people having to make sacrifices to talk to God, but when Jesus shed His blood on the cross, He was the ULTIMATE sacrifice. No more lambs had to be killed. I asked them if they would sacrifice on of their brothers for a murder? They all said, "No." We talked about how God loved us so much that He sent his precious Son for bad people. I could see them absorbing this information. Tomorrow, we'll talk more in depth about Jesus' birth and resurrection fulfilling the Old Testament prophesies. A good source for Old Testament Prophecies about Jesus.Today, we only got as far as to what "prophecy" actually means. (And no Cameron, it's not the Gypsy lady with a wart on her face staring into the ball)
I really began to realize in the midst of this, what I'd been filling my kids heads with concerning Christmas. While I was reminding them to remember the "real reason for the season" I was taking up their toy lists, threatening them with lumps of coal, and furiously decorating the house. It occurred to me that my actions were taking away the true meaning of Christmas to my children. My boys are being bombarded with Christmas things all while missing the truth of the celebration. This year, I don't want Jesus to be something we slip in on Christmas evening. I don't want to rush through the Christmas story so we can get to the "good stuff." This IS the good stuff. I want to study this. I want them to know why Jesus came, why God sacrificed His son, why Jesus was born in a stable. I want my boys to treasure these things in their hearts far above story of Santa.
This Christmas, we'll still do matching Christmas pjs. We'll still make horribly mishapen, over sprinkled Christmas cookies. We'll still during our evening hunt for Christmas lights where one child inevitably gets carsick and ends up throwing up in an old McDonald's cup we hastily find underneath the seat. And yes, we'll still leave out cookies for Santa, and Mr. Man will nibble off little bites to make it appear as though the fat man was there, but, these are just additions. This year, these things, will be additions to our bigger picture. This year, we'll focus on Christ, His story, His message, His sacrifice, and this year, Christ will shine brighter than all of these other things.