Wednesday, December 15, 2010

St. Nicholas

As a young child, I would lie in my bed on Christmas Eve dreaming of Santa Claus zipping down my chimney and tip-toeing through the living room.  

It was so magical and special.  It filled me with hope and excitement.  I loved it and I remember not wanting to "stop believing" when I got older.  I never felt cheated or lied to, but felt a sweet reminiscence for the childhood fantasy that brought me such happiness.

Yet, as Lily has gotten to the age of grasping who Santa is, we have struggled a bit in regards to our stance on the man in red. We have been somewhat vague in our answers and only recently has she started to ask more questions that require a straightforward answer.  

My hesitation has been in not wanting to overshadow what we are truly celebrating during the advent season.  I don't want my children's excitement to be wrapped up in the gifts they will receive.  I want them to be excited about the gift of Christ and the time spent celebrating with family. However, there is something so special about Santa and there is so much good in the history of St. Nicholas. 

My amazing friend, Katy, and I have spent a lot of time discussing how to handle Santa and she recently read this quote to me by James Dobson:

 "I don't believe that those early, early fantasies really interfere with later Spiritual beliefs. I haven't seen any evidence of that, either in the life of my kids or in the lives of those I have had anything to do with. To allow a little bit of fantasy in a child's life enriches his intellectual life and I think he needs it. Children thrive on fantasy. It enriches our mental existence. Reality can be a pretty cold and hard place. I think children need the fantasy that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and other childhood mythical creatures bring."

I certainly understand why parents decide to avoid the "Santa issue" altogether, but this quotation encouraged me to remember how precious the years of fantasy and make believe are.  And as long as we focus on the precious gift of Christ, I believe our kids won't get too wrapped up in the gifts from Santa Claus. They might feel a little love for a mythical man who flies in a sleigh, but isn't love what the season's all about?  

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