Why We Don’t Do Santa Claus

My parents never did the whole Santa thing when I was a kid.

They said it was because Jesus was the true reason for Christmas and maybe something else about Santa being spelled Satan when you flipped the letters. (Yes, that’s sarcasmon the off-chance that someone was planning on sending hate emails, although, if you were an 80’s kid like me, you’ve totally heard that.)

As I look back, I’m not entirely convinced that my mom was solely concerned with my spiritual welfare. I can’t be positive—because mom would never admit to it—but I think she couldn’t do the whole Santa story because she needed me to be the wrapper for Christmas. (Notice wr-wrapper, not “the rapper,” although I have been known to drop a sick beat.) 

Truth is, the whole Santa story would have been blown to oblivion with me wrapping all the presents and then rapping’ sick beats about it.

Another reason it wouldn’t have worked is that our family celebrated on Christmas Eve. So, Santa was mid-flight while my four brothers and I were already knee-deep in shiny wrapping paper.

Alas, no Santa for us.

We were definitely non-traditionalists, but no one could accuse my parents of making Christmas boring. We had a ton of fun and I never felt like I missed out on anything. Because of this, I honestly always thought the whole concept of Santa was ridiculous… until I had kids.

Have you been good?

When my husband and I had our first son I went on auto-pilot and said “no Santa.” I didn’t even know why. I grew up in a Santaless home, so my kids would grow up in a Santaless home.

Period. End of story.

I didn’t think it through.

The older my boys became, Santa was everywhere. We’d be in a grocery store line checking out and the cashier would ask my son, “Are you being good so that Santa will bring everything you want?” My oldest son is rather quiet and would just stare blankly at the person.

My middle son, however, is far more chatty and would confidently proclaim, “Santa’s not real!” This would receive an awkward glance and a disapproving stare as the receipt was handed over.

I have been questioned more times than I can count for why I don’t do Santa with my kids.

“Where’s the magic and wonder?!” I would often be asked.

I started to feel pressured into putting on the facade every December along with the rest of the world so my kids would have this “magic and wonder” that they were so clearly missing.

Lying to my kids about a man who was watching their every move and sneaking into our home every 24th of December, just didn’t feel right. Not to mention, I didn’t want that to be the focus of Christmas.

Through all of this though, I still didn’t have a solid answer as to why the whole Santa idea left me so unsettled.

Naughty or nice?

I was out and about one busy December afternoon with my youngest son while my older two were in school.

The fateful question came tumbling out of a well-meaning stranger’s lips, “Are you being a good boy for mommy so that Santa will come and bring you lots of Christmas gifts?”

In an instant, my stomach dropped as I hated the question that was being asked.

And I finally knew why…

While driving home I peered in my rearview mirror and saw the blue eyes of my youngest looking back at me. Smiling at mama with a sticky purple sucker in his mouth and all over his face—I adored him.

“Emerson, do you have to be good all the time for mommy to love you?”

His pouty little lips pushed out his sucker as he thought this over.

“No, you always lub me.” He finally answered.

“That’s right, I do always love you!” “No matter what you were to ever do, mommy and daddy will always love you.” He beamed, satisfied he answered correctly.

“Do you know who else loves you no matter what?” I continued, glancing in my rear-view. “Jesus!” I exclaimed.

Do good, get good

We live in an unfortunate world that tells us if we “do good” we’ll get good, which, let’s be honest, isn’t always the case.

I had finally realized that far away day in December what had bothered me so badly about the premise of Santa Claus.

We spend the year teaching our children they’ve been saved by grace and Jesus loves them solely because they are a child of God. And yet, every December they receive the message that they must do good to “get” and if they don’t behave they’ll get a big ol’ fat lump of coal.

I feel as though I’d be telling them to perform if I taught them this.

Dance monkeys, dance.

I am horrified by the thought that my children would ever believe that their value, worth, or what they deserve is based on how they perform or behave.

My children are humans.

They mess up, fall down, lash out and misbehave. They’ve been known to lie, hit each other, steal each other’s toys and say hateful things.

They’ve also been known to hug each other, help each other out, say a kind word of encouragement and be honest when it was easier to lie.

Is there a cosmic scale somewhere balancing their good behaviors against their bad ones?

Thank God, no.

No one is counting their missteps and neither am I.

We are forgiven, no matter what

The more I have learned of Jesus, the more I have fallen in love with who He is. The more I have come to love why He loves us.

My Father in heaven is not bending low to count my mistakes, because His son already made Himself low to pay the cost for them all.

My Father in heaven is not bending low to count my mistakes because His son already made Himself low to pay the cost for them all.Click To Tweet

He is not demanding goodness in exchange for anything — especially out of a person that is incapable of performing to His expectations.

It is not my performance He is looking at because He’s too busy staring at the face of His beloved Son, Jesus, and sees me in Him.

More than anything, I want my boys to know that Jesus died for them.

Jesus loves them and died for them when they didn’t deserve it.

Jesus fought for them BEFORE they ever even chose Him.

I want them to see that even on their worst days—particularly on their worst days—they’re still getting grace. Not a lump of coal.

We’re not overly concerned about Santa. We enjoy Christmas movies with Santa and send cute Santa wrapped gifts, but we have refused to teach our kids that Santa is real and this is all because of grace.

If we preach grace all year-long, we believe Christmas should be grace-filled as well.

I’m curious, how do you celebrate Christmas? What traditions do you have? If you have children, do you do Santa with them or not? I’d really love to know your thoughts! I believe there is no right or wrong, just good conversations.

Thank you, as always, for stopping by!

Why Sharing the Scary in Your Story Matters

I’ve been discussing sharing our stories the past few weeks, which you can begin reading about here.

When it comes to sharing our stories with others it’s often hard to speak of the places that still sting a bit. We all have ugly spots in our pasts. Places where we would just as soon say we’ve never been.

I for one, have spent many years hiding from my “scary places.” I have known for a long time that God put a calling on my heart to write, but I chose to ignore it for years.

I didn’t want to go back, even if it meant being an encouragement to others.

Selfish? Yes. But the real obstacle was and always will be fear. I feared the struggle more than trusting the purpose God had through it.

Even today the tender parts are the hardest ones to talk about.

We all have them.

The ugly memories, the events that changed who we are as a person, the bad choices, and terrible scenarios.

There is inevitably something in each one of our pasts that is a reminder of just how broken we used to be and to some extent, still are.

We certainly don’t want to stay stuck in the muck of yesterday, and yet, it is a part of us that cannot be ignored and has even helped shape us.

Here in lies the question I have asked myself for years; what do we do with these parts—the scary parts?

Going back

I suffered from postpartum depression and antepartum depression with all three of my pregnancies. The littlest years of my children’s lives were extremely difficult for me. I suffered in silence for most of this time, assuming I was alone.

In the midst of my story, these are some of the scariest days and the memory of them have the ability to leave me paralyzed.

I have a mind that stores memories in boxes that can pop open without warning. And since my particular struggle was intertwined within my every day, I find I am often reminded of those days.

A sniff of a particular laundry detergent, the mist of a January morning or even the length of the shadows stretch in July can bring with them a rush of unwanted emotions.

To this day when I visit a new mom, I struggle because the past beckons to me. I am tempted to open the door to “if only” and allow him to come in and stay awhile.

The scariest part of your story was always meant for good.

Even though those days were dreadful and the memories are hard places that still chafe, I know how they can be used for good.

I have learned over time how to use these triggers as a reminder to check in on the emotional state of new moms and friends.

I’ve learned how I can use the bad for good…

I can say, “hey, I’ve been there too, how can I help?” and “I know how this feels, here’s what I did.”

It’s a matter of taking the bad and flipping it on its head for good.

Empathy grows in the hardest of spots

God allows certain hard, uncomfortable and just plain terrible things into our lives. He’s not the cause of these things, but He certainly can use them for a good purpose. Sometimes I don’t love the thought of this, I’d rather He keep it all rainbows and sunshine. But if I’m being honest, the hard, scary places are the places where I have learned the most.

These “scary” places are the ones that have brought me closer to my God and my fellow humans.

I don’t believe I ever would have felt the empathy I do for others if not for the scary places I have walked.

The scariest and most beautiful story ever told

I often think about the fact that the scariest part of Jesus’ life was also the entire purpose of it. This moment in time was simultaneously the ugliest and most beautiful situation to ever be.

A death on a cross is a hideous event, and yet, it is the only thing that could redeem every human that has ever lived.

Jesus certainly never shied away from any of our scary places, rather He entered into them. He came to be present with us and to enter into the pain, the muck and the mire of this human mess.

He touched the ugliest places, made them whole again and then asked people to share what wonderful things He had done.

One of my greatest fears has always been that everything I’ve been through was going to be wasted and meaningless. But gazing deeply into Jesus’ story causes me to believe that every scary part of our story is meant for a beautiful purpose as well.

From every scary place we’ve walked, there is truth to learn.

In sharing the scariest version of our stories we are guiding those behind us with a little light in a dark place; “We made it through, you are not alone and there is hope in the dark.”

Hiding the parts of our story that are unpleasant, uncomfortable, or just downright ugly, never does any good for ourselves or anyone else. Not that we need to shout from the rooftops every hardship we’ve ever had, but where necessary, there is real value.

Making scary beautiful

Trusting a God that is simultaneously in today and down the long road of tomorrow helps us speak the scary parts a little easier because we can know there is a purpose in them.

He has made everything beautiful in its time… Ecclesiastes 3:11

Suffering and How it Knits Us Together

I’ve never been a knitter.

I tried it for a like a second and then realized I was terrible at it. This was mostly because the tiny dishcloth I was knitting resembled a trapezoid rather than a square.

Although my knitting dreams were crushed, the world was saved from unnecessary trapezoid shaped blankets that would’ve left their feet unbearably cold.

You’re welcome, world.

A Tapestry of Lives

Something I did take away from my brief stint of knitting was the allegorical meaning behind it.

I just love the idea of many different threads being knit into one beautiful piece of art.

Just as you can weave endless color variations to make one garment, so too, our lives have the ability to weave together seamlessly into one story.

Something every human has in common.

A while back I was at a woman’s retreat in a lovely, out-of-the-way conference center where our small groups were meeting up and sharing. We were asked to speak openly about an event or life experience that affected us and changed our lives.

I listened intently to each one of these women as we moved counter-clockwise and  shared stories;

One had been through cancer.

Another had been through abuse.

And yet another had lost a friend to suicide.

One woman had a life untouched by real hurt but struggled with her value as a wife and mother.

I could see that each woman had real struggles, the pain was evident in every spilled tear and spoken word.

But something else was immediately apparent as well, the trials we shared just weren’t equal.

At least not from a human perspective.

A person going through cancer and someone struggling with their value just doesn’t seem comparable.

And clearly from our viewpoint down here on this whirling blue ball—they don’t.

But you know what?

In God’s eyes, all suffering is equal

It’s clear that just as God doesn’t see sin on levels. He doesn’t measure our suffering by some cosmic level of importance and only shows up to the important trials.

The difficulty in daily trials is that it’s so tempting to think they don’t matter. It’s easy to not share the things we find ourselves fighting daily because “so and so” is going through something so much worse.

When in truth, the little matters as much as the big.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind…1 Corinthians 10:13

You are not the first to go through the trial you are suffering through. There are others— there is an entire community that experiences the same thing as you.

For years I felt as though the suffering I endured was my own and no one else experienced anything like it.

And at the same time, I believed the lie that what I went through wasn’t equal to the suffering that others had been through. I believed I wasn’t important.

This thinking kept me isolated and made me believe I was a victim, rather than another victor with a story to share.

I was forgetting the most important part of the trials we endure—it’s the hope that comes out of them.

As humans, we see trials on levels of severity and deem that some are so much worse than others, but in reality, a wound is still a wound.

The hardships we face and the comfort we receive through them is precious gold to be shared, no matter how severe.

Enduring trials and tribulations births empathy, which serves a real purpose in moving us towards our fellow-man.

Our suffering serves a purpose.

In the depth of our personal trials, we can forget there is a benefit for others to be found. When we surface up out of the deep cavern of suffering, we emerge with nuggets of wisdom that no professor could ever teach.

Suffering truly is the greatest schoolmaster in empathy. The comfort and wisdom received in trials are meant to be shared with those that are walking the same hard road we’ve just traveled.

…Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:4

The comfort God extends was never meant to be hidden away.

It was always meant to be shared. 

Knowing our suffering serves a greater purpose helps to bring peace and perspective to our struggles.

I believe that once we see the hope that others can have through our trials we are able to have a measure of peace with that portion of our story.

Part of this is simply knowing we all suffer—to be human is to suffer in some way, shape or form.

In the end, I believe knowing what to do with it is the key.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What have you been through and what wisdom have you gained that could possibly help others?
  • In what way can you be a blessing to someone else because of a strength you have gained through a personal struggle?
  • Are you still walking a hard path today? If so, who can you reach out to that has gone through a similar struggle that you can glean wisdom from?
  • Who can you bless in spite of the hardship you are going through? How can you take your eyes off of yourself and put them on someone else?

God designed us with a desire to love, to give comfort and to live within a community.

He never intended for us to live in a world where suffering is so prevalent, but as He loves to do, He takes the ugly and uses it for good.

Coming across another soul that has walked the same troubled path creates a bond.

It’s a sisterhood or brotherhood forged in the fire of adversity, and sometimes those are the strongest kind.

To read the previous posts about sharing your story, click here. 

Recognizing That Your Unique Life Matters

My bible study leader breezed through the door with the smell of cider and freshly baked goods chasing her.

After placing the warm batch of pumpkin muffins and a carafe of steaming hot cider on the table, she informed us that we were having story time for today’s lesson. (Listen, a person hands me a pumpkin muffin and tells me to sit on a comfy couch for 45 minutes—I don’t question—I just do.)

She began by showing us the cover of a “smallish” book called The Butterfly Effect, by Andy Andrews. The Butterfly Effect is an idea that something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world.

While this may seem like a ridiculous concept, it actually makes sense—

Little things matter and big things begin small.

I found it to be a wonderful and timely book for myself and the message God has been placing on my heart. The author explains how portions of history were determined by everyday people. He shows how a decision that one person made created ripples across the waters of time to change the course of history.

It was another message from a big God to remind me that every person matters and every life has a purpose.

YOU matter

Your story matters and can make a difference in ways you could never imagine.

Every day we make small, seemingly simple choices that could have the potential to have far-reaching effects without even realizing it.

It’s quite humbling to pause and think that you are literally the only you that will ever be on this Earth. Your uniqueness was handcrafted for a reason. You matter and every choice you make matters.

A few weeks ago I wrote a little about how your unique voice matters, and the importance of sharing your story.

Today I wanted to remind you of something else that matters, your unique life. And who better to remind us than a quote from the one and only, Dr. Seuss!

“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.” Dr. Seuss, Happy Birthday to You!

Truthfully, there is no other YOU and there never will be.

You were put here to impact the people within your sphere.

We can be tempted to believe that we could never be an influencer in our little world to make a difference in the greater picture. But remember, the size of our sphere doesn’t matter, it’s what we do within that sphere that ultimately counts.

The size of our sphere does not matter, it's what we do within that sphere that ultimately counts.Click To Tweet

Perhaps today we could make a choice that impacts our sphere for the better?

One Day of Faith

We like to think of people in the Bible as being great pillars of faith every moment of their existence. When in reality, it’s a bunch of stories about a group of people who lived ordinary lives. They really only had one or two monumental moments where the spotlight was shined on them.

Think Esther, Ruth, and Rahab—to name a few.

These people had a choice to make. Their choices and their life had the potential to do little to nothing at all, but instead, they changed everything and really had no idea it would.

There are things we will do in the mundane that can’t possibly seem as if it will change the trajectory of tomorrow. You just never know how much that one decision can impact tomorrow or one hundred years from now.

Just like the Butterfly Effect, we have the ability to flap tiny wings that will reverberate into hurricane force winds.

When you think of the choices that were made in just a few examples I gave, they ultimately led to the arrival of the Messiah.

One person made a choice, lived their lives and changed everything.

The Bible is a beautiful reminder of how there are many parts to one story.

We are all a part of something bigger than ourselves.

It is nearly impossible to truly finish anything in this life. We primarily exist to pass the baton, so to speak. Every bit of what we are doing is simply building toward a future for someone else to finish.

Just as Moses passed the baton to Joshua in the desert, we live our lives with the understanding that we are truly only one part of the story.

As equally as important as Moses was in beginning the mission of bringing the Israelites into the promised land, so too was Joshua in finishing that race.

When we think of this example it’s apparent how we are only part of the story because even Joshua wasn’t the final word.

The baton is still being passed today.

Every seemingly simple choice we make in our everyday life has the possibility to change someone.

God chose to use various people from different walks of life for His story. It’s just ordinary people and their stories that have worked to change every generation after them.

This tells me that our stories matter.

Even Jesus intertwined his story into all of ours. He came at the appointed time in history to live, die and rise again. He began the race and then passed the baton to his disciples and to all those after them.

We are so much more than a singular person living a solitary life.

When we live our lives and share our stories we are creating space for someone to possibly change their perspective. We give hope when we follow after Jesus in faith, knowing even the hard things have a purpose.

Remember next time you are tempted to believe that your life and story is somehow insignificant;

You are the only you that will ever be.

And you and your story matter tremendously.

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