“It’s a Santa-tree!!!”

“It’s a Santa-tree!!!”

“Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion.” – I Timothy 4:7

What do you tell your kids about Santa Claus? For our family it has never been the debate that happens in some households about whether or not Santa is real. OF COURSE SANTA IS REAL! But inviting Santa into your celebrations is not with a cost, and that cost is what my wife and I debated when our oldest was born.
As pastors, we know it’s hard enough to get grown ups to slow down and focus on the true gift of Christmas. This time of year, it becomes all about the sales, and the parties, and the pretty packages under the tree. I cannot count how many sermons I’ve heard (and preached) hammering against the commercializing of this holy season. So it has been very important to us to make sure our kids know that Christmas is not about receiving gifts but about receiving Christ.

So the day after Thanksgiving, as is our new(ish) tradition, the Desotell family set out to buy our Christmas tree. I spotted the perfect tree as soon as we stepped onto the lot, but part of our tradition is my wife making me look at all the other trees to be sure I didn’t just fall in love with the first one I saw. We then bought that first tree (of course), threw it up on top of the car, and went home to string the lights and let the girls start decorating.
That’s when it happened. Our youngest came running in and saw the tree all straight and tall and full of colorful lights and exclaimed, “Look! A Santa-tree!” Since then, every day, I hear from her about how Santa is coming and how excited she is for presents, all the while I am literally pulling out my imaginary hair.

Then again, there are worse people to be excited about. In light of all the hatred and cruelty and suffering in the world, a person who makes it their mission to spread joy into the hearts of others is not a bad person to look up to. Plus, having actually been to Bethlehem, and having exited the Church of the Nativity through a crowd of souvenir vendors, it is pretty clear that trying to escape the commerce of it all is a losing battle.

Instead, I think I will simply try to gently remind my girls, as often as I can, that the first gift that came at Christmas, the best one, was wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a food trough. That the reason we give and receive presents is to remember God’s presence, Emmanuel, God with us. I pray we all remember that this year.

Ho! Ho! Ho!,
Pastor Mike

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