Monday, December 19, 2011

Big Man Upstairs

Ah, Santa. That jolly old fellow, inextricably connected to our Christmas season. Also an eternal source of conflict among Christians and non-Christians alike. Everyone has different ways of dealing with Santa, from those who embrace the mall photos and write "from Santa" on every gift, to those who are quick to point out that "Santa" rearranged spells "Satan" and cover their children's eyes whenever a Coca Cola ad comes on TV. 

Our children are very young yet so we really haven't had to deal with Santa very much. Although this is Eli's third Christmas, it's the first one where he's really at all aware. We encountered Santa at our community tree trim, and despite a little trepidation Eli took his place in line to receive his treat bag full of candy. Then proceeded several days of talking about "Satta! Canny!" after which Santa quickly faded out of his little memory.

My growing up is filled with clear memories of my own reaction to Santa Claus. We didn't "do" Santa in our family. It was always clear that Santa wasn't real, and our presents were always "From Mom and Dad." It certainly didn't make Christmas any less exciting for us as children - after all, these were presents - who cares who they're from!

My attitude about Santa was one of somewhat smug superiority over my less-informed friends. I had been carefully instructed and admonished that I was NOT to tell them that Santa wasn't real. I wasn't to lie to them, but just avoid the subject. I was fine with this. I remember that it would annoy me when store clerks or people at church would ask me if I was excited about Santa coming. I wanted them to know that I knew, and that we didn't have to keep up the charade. Inquiries about Santa were usually met with an annoyed glance and an "I know that Santa Claus ISN'T REAL" from little Emily. My mother found it awkward. So did the store employees. In retrospect I can see why.

My darling next sister had a very different perspective. She was much more tender-hearted than I was. While I was content with my superior knowledge, she was crushed that her poor friends were so deceived. In her little mind, their parents were lying to them, and she would be their saviour. Despite my parents' attempts to restrain her, I'm sure she spilled the beans on more than one occasion, tears in her eyes, earnestly pleading with her young friends to see the truth. 

 Lianne (Santa-hater), Me, Ariel (The Pretty One), Naomi (Baby)

As we got older and this became less of an issue, my arrogance was replaced with apathy, while her genuine concern was replaced with resentment. She hated Santa Claus. Even as an adult I'm pretty sure she still dislikes most things connected with him. I am sure that when she gets married and has little ones of her own there will be no Santa Claus in that house. Might have to write it into the marriage contract...

My two youngest sisters were much like me, maybe not so arrogant but definitely not as passionately anti-Santa as Lianne was. 

So the question remains, what to do about Santa? Having grown up the way I did I have a very hard time imagining ever encouraging my children to believe in Santa. That being said, I would never object to parents "playing" Santa with their children, as long as they weren't lying to them. Some things are black and white, and the Bible clearly says not to lie. It doesn't say that there are exceptions, or it's ok if it's a harmless lie, or a lie that will help people, or a lie that is fun, it merely says don't lie. I try not to question what the Bible says. It generally turns out to be right. So I wouldn't lie to my children. I also will not demonize Santa, since I see no problem with pretending and make believe.

 Ultimately, I don't want the focus of Christmas to be Santa or no Santa, "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays," presents or donating money. I want it to be about the birth of Christ, not controversy. That's my goal for this season!

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Perfect Mama

This morning, I rose at six. I made a pot of coffee and curled up in the comfy chair with my Bible and read a chapter. I prepared healthy green smoothies for my family for breakfast, then showered and dressed, gave my husband a kiss goodbye and cleaned up the kitchen. Eli and I did school together, and then we baked a batch of cookies.

Yes, I'm pretty much the perfect mother.

Or... am I?

I did get up at six - when Theo demanded to be fed and Eli climbed into our bed. I groaned and grumbled that they never sleep in.

I did make a pot of coffee - out of necessity - and curl up to read my chapter. I also snapped at Eli for disturbing me during this "me" time and insisted that he sit on the couch by himself rather than curl up in my lap. I read quickly and skipped prayer so I could check my e-mail.

I did make delicious, healthy green smoothies for breakfast - then had a 30 minute battle with my toddler who was refusing to drink his.

I did shower and get dressed - after sharply berating my husband for not paying close enough attention to Eli.

I did  kiss my husband (who was gracious enough to forgive my grumpiness) and clean up the kitchen - because I hadn't cleaned it very well the night before.

I did do school with Eli - though my short temper made it a difficult and stressful experience for both of us.

I did bake a batch of cookies with Eli - and snapped at him again for spilling oats on the floor.

Halfway through the morning, when I snapped at my active toddler once again and sent him to his room, I took a minute to breathe and calm down. I've been struggling some with anxiety the last few days and it's getting to me. I went back into his room, scooped him up and cuddled him, and prayed with him for a minute. Two year olds are so quick to forgive! Everything wasn't magically all better, but it helped a lot.

When my husband came home on this rainy day to hear classical music playing softly in the background and to see me pulling a tray of butterscotch cookies out of the oven, he praised me for creating such a calm, happy atmosphere. He's almost as quick to forgive as our two year old! All my meanness from the morning dissolved in the bowl of my stand mixer. I should never underestimate the power of gentle music, cookies... and a quick prayer!

Blogs are a funny thing. It's so easy to present only the good in my life. To brag about what we're accomplishing and all my hard work. It's only too easy to hide the battles, the crankiness, and my short temper. Unfortunately, that's not really what my life is like. But by the grace of God... it's getting there. Two steps forward and one step back. Today was a "one step back" kind of day. Here's hoping tomorrow will be a "two steps forward!"