I grew up pretending in Santa but all the while knowing what the true meaning of Christmas was…the birth of Christ Jesus. We still had the joys of traditions such as putting cookies out for Santa and opening stockings on Christmas morning. We never had the great reveal that the figure we’d believed in for so long was false. I have to give props to my parents for such a great balance.
As my daughter is now 2.5 years old, I feel she’s starting to comprehend significantly more than before and thus how I manage this balance has come into question this year.
First and foremost, I want my relationship with my daughter to be built on a foundation of trust and knowledge. When she asks me questions, regardless of what they are, I want to answer her honestly in the most age appropriate way as possible. This concept has had a lot of thought lately due to the fact that I’m pregnant and I would love to have her present for the birth. We talk about body parts in their anatomical names, describe body functions honestly, etc. I want her to be prepared for what to expect when the baby is born and for her to understand that it is a natural process, as well as breastfeeding and many other taboo things, and that it isn’t something to be ashamed of and label with other words. Wow, I just got off on a small tangent….trust and knowledge! That’s what I’m striving for. This will go so far as the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy and such. I want her to have the fun of pretending but all the while knowing the truth about the holiday or event.
Honestly, Christmas is one of my favorite times of year. I think the real reason is the emphasis on giving to others (which I wish were more a part of my constant mentality throughout the year), spending time with family, and celebrating the real reason both those two are important, the birth of Christ.
Thus, Jesus and the nativity story has been my emphasis. We spend a lot of time talking about Jesus and the story of his birth.
I created a felt nativity set for her last year and my grandma gave her a Little People Nativity set. We still participate in fun things like the Elf on the Shelf and I plan on putting cookies and milk out for Santa. However, with both, I intend to let her know that it’s just mom and dad pretending.
Our elf, Sprinkles, isn’t intended to scare our children into acting in a particular way or behaving in order to get toys. It’s the fun of waking and seeing where and what the elf is going to be doing the next morning. We haven’t even really talked about the elf leaving to go report to Santa. We still take pictures with Santa each year if the opportunity arises, but we haven’t encouraged her to ask for gifts from Santa. We want her to know, the gifts she receives are from the people in her life that love and care from her. Just as I emphasize the nativity, I will tell her Santa and all are pretend.
We’re attempting to teach her gratefulness (building off of last month in which people are most thankful one day and then running people over for sales for more stuff on Black Friday–whole other topic there). We have the things we have, the life and family we have because of Jesus. I have wanted to participate in an activity Advent calendar for the last few years (I found this one at Target this year and really like it), with emphasis on being together as a family. Yesterday, our activity was to buy a gift for someone who may need it.
We decided to donate a toy to the Sleep Train’s Toy Drive for Foster Children. We prepared our daughter with such statements as Jesus gave us all and so we share and bless others that may not have or be in need. Amazingly she got it and talked about it the whole way to the store. When we were walking up and down the toy store, I thought for sure it was going to turn into a battle to give the toy up as she’d continually state “I want that” as we walked up and down. We let her choose a toy, which even upped the ante a bit too. She was so excited to be carrying this dog in a purse through the store. But when she walked into Sleep Train, she carried it right over, put it in the basket and told the man it was for kids that may not have toys. Wow! That’s the heart I want to cultivate and the reason for this season. I want her to be able to be grateful for the gifts she’s received at Christmas, knowing who they came from and the sacrifices people made to give them to her, rather than an imaginary figure whom she can’t really demonstrate gratitude. Next year, I plan to have more items in our calendar with the intention of teaching her Jesus’ character rather than just spending time together as a family.
Granted this is my first attempt at raising children. I can’t claim to have it all figured out but I hope that I’m making at least an honest attempt at raising a daughter with a relationship of honesty and knowledge, and instilling a heart of gratefulness and giving in a season when so many focus on the receipt of gifts.
I discovered Truth in the Tinsel as a part of my search recently. It might be something I’ll plan to do next year when I’m prepared a little more in advance. Has anyone used it?