my son has never taken a picture with santa clause. ever. although stories about the happy go lucky elf who visits children while they’re sleeping to deliver presents has now infiltrated my home. when asked who told him about this mysterious santa, my son goes all james bond with the closed lip, protecting his sources while standing his ground, ‘but santa is coming and he is going to bring me presents!’
what’s an open minded liberal spiritualist christian (leaning more toward mystic) mother to do?
i want my son to grow in the knowledge that the abundance and generosity of spirit surrounds him. i want him to know that his inheritance as a child of God is not limited to baubles and gems but to all the wonders that lie within. i want him to very much know that God’s divine light as embodied in the person and teachings of Jesus Christ are his to behold and live by.
at five, however, my son is more interested in a ben ten omnitrix watch and a purple light saber that lights up when you wave it. i’ve struggled since his very first Christmas with the eternal question of how to make the story of Christmas accessible so that it will grow with him. hence the birthday cake…
every year for Christmas we throw a birthday party for Jesus complete with birthday themed wrapping paper, balloons and a birthday cake. i allow him to pick the flavor and theme of the cake.
this year it’s sprinkles (i talked him out of the power ranger rings). and we spend a lot of time talking about God’s love for us all. he can recite the message by heart:
we make and buy gifts to share with people that we love each year. and we also buy and give gifts to people we don’t know but who need them. we also go to church and participate in a candle lighting ceremony to represent the light God gave us in Jesus the Christ. my son loves the candle lighting. last year was his first year being able to hold the candle all by himself. it was quite an event.
this year as the commercialism of the secular christmas has come home to roost and it’s bothering me. at five, he and his friends have been talking about this santa guy daily asking each other what they think he will bring them and who’s gone to visit with santa. he’s noticed that he has no pictures with santa on the mantel and that i don’t spend time talking about santa like he’s some long distant but much loved relative. i offered to send santa an invitation to Jesus’ birthday party but was told quite emphatically that santa is too busy to be coming to a birthday party. he has all those presents to deliver after all.
heavy hearted sigh.
i’m a big believer in imagination and the power it has to heal and help us leap past things that move beyond our faith. i will defend my kid’s right to defend the universe from nighlok’s and other monsters. we also hold regular debates about what’s better spiderman’s super strength and web welding powers or ironman sheer know how and unlimited resources. but i can’t allow christmas to be highjacked by commercialism and a guy in a velvet suit. it’s just too important.
so this year, we’ve held the debates and i’ve stated my case. in the morning he will wake up to more than his fare share of toys, knickknacks and baubles (the massacre at sandy hook sent me as most americans on a shopping binge) and when he asks which gift did santa bring, i’ll be honest and tell him none. and when he asked which are from me i will tell him all. and when he asks why. my answer will be
i give to you because i love you and i want you to be happy and joyful and to fill your life with good good things. and as much as i love you, my love is human and limited. and as much as i give to you, my resources are few and limited. so imagine if this little mommy in this little house can provide these gifts what great things God has in store who loves you so much much more.