I can look back on my own history and see the blessing of being around people hostile to our faith. Our Christmas traditions are far more Christ-centered than those of my own childhood. I grew up in a Christian-is-status-quo environment. So, we had a lot of not-Christian stuff, because we all knew what it was all about.
My kids have grandparents malignant to the things of Christ. In response, we said no to elaborate Santa games and yes to serving the less fortunate. We talked about the real man who inspired the Santa traditions with his great love for Christ that manifested in generosity and gentleness to children. My kids didn’t see the traditional Rudolph and Frosty movies until recently, but we never missed the birthday cake and song to Jesus. We lessened the number of times we sang Jingle Bells and sang O Come All Ye Faithful in our sleep.
Everything we did was with thought and purpose. My kids knew the Christmas story frontwards and backwards before they were two. They knew the pagan roots and Christian symbolism of the tree, the date and the candles. They can tell you what all the aspects of the candy cane represent.
All our nativity scenes were active—meaning the wise men started in another room of the house and slowly moved toward the barn. So did Mary and Joseph, for that matter. On Christmas day we ‘appeared’ the long awaited Baby in each of our crèche sets with great drama and joy. The wise men continued to travel until their own celebrated entry on January 6.
The contentiousness was something I would never have wanted in our lives. But as I look back, I see how the One we call Lord maintained His position by putting a war just outside our door. We pressed into Him. We impressed into our children the meaning of life. It was imperative they knew, because the lie that seemed so harmless was invited to our dinner table. We had to learn NOW the way to love the people who hated what we lived for, because my children were sitting on their laps. We had to know why we believe what we believe, because there were a thousand reasons telling us we were wrong…in our living room!
To our heartbreak, we are on a sabbatical from the relationship that was such a precious trial to us. And I see a change in how we live. We are in a fabulous church, so everything is Christian all the time. And how easy it is to let the ‘harmless’ in. My kids have now seen all the traditional Christmas shows that have nothing to do with Christ. Stockings from Santa is one of my favorite things. The nativities are still around, but they are whole from the get-go.
I can excuse the lax traditions by saying the kids are older, life is busy and they know the truth. But the fact is that I have grown lazy in the safety of our lives. My guard is down and the world is coming in.