Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Not Offending Extended Family

If you're on board with the whole idea of not lying to your children about Santa Claus, be prepared to have thick skin.  You may be looked at as if you grew second and third heads on each of your shoulders when people find out you don't follow what has become a major cultural norm.  Our family is accustomed to this look since we also don't celebrate Halloween and have more than your average size family.  In fact, I'd say we get that look about 80% of the time we go out in public.  It really only spurs me on to have more children!

But let's say you're new to this.  Any Christian called out to not be of this world will face "being different" at some point or another.  If you don't face it, you may need to ask yourself if you're looking a little too much like the world. 
We never intentionally want to be a stumbling block to others, but the Gospel is offensive sometimes because it is convicting.  If our lives are shaped by what we believe, sometimes just being who we are will be offensive to others.

At Christmas, most folks are blessed with the opportunity to see extended family.  We want to celebrate Christ's birth with those we hold most dear.  Merging Christmas traditions can be difficult in the first few years of a marriage, but when you throw in children (grandchildren!), it can be even more complicated.  So then, what to do with Santa if the new grandparents played the game with their own children?

I'm going to speak from my own experience.  This is all I really can do, but I know for some of you, this may be more difficult.  Still, try to apply the principles to more trying family drama!...

First off, to leave is to cleave (Genesis 2:24).  When you begin your own family (on your wedding day, not your first child's birthday), you and your husband will make your own decisions as the Holy Spirit leads you.  You cannot make decisions that affect your own immediate family based on the feelings of those in your extended family.  

If possible, have your own family Christmas before going to see grandparents.  We've always lived far from family, and this is always the way we've done Christmas.  It's nice to have time to treasure, being able to watch the recipient of a gift open what you've given.  It's more intimate in smaller groups.  We also have the added benefit of not having to haul any large items with us to see the extended family.  At this time, we also read the Gospel account of Christ's birth before opening any gifts.  We try to this with extended family too, although we're not perfect.  We forgot at one of the extended family events last year!

My parents did Santa Claus with my brother and me.  They've never said anything to me about why I don't do it with my kids.  I have no idea if my brother plays Santa Claus with his daughter.  My kids have been taught to say to family members that play the game (and other kids too), when asked what Santa brought them, "We don't ask Santa to stop at our house",  which is the truth.  They don't sit in a man's lap at the mall and ask him for gifts.  We may still get strange looks, but this way, we aren't spoiling others' "fun".

We do MANY fun activities with our immediate family, church family, and extended family that don't involve Santa.  And, Santa's not banished from the house.  Some of the ornaments I collected as a child have his figure on them.  We are not legalistic.  There's no reason why I can't share the story of the real man who inspired the legend. 

I hope this is a help for those of you that want to keep your Christmas Christ focused!  If you have any further questions about this topic or anything else, just send me an e-mail at titus2moments(at)hotmail(dot)com.

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