Santa is in Heaven

by | Dec 1, 2007 | Every Day Life

“It’s that time of year when the world falls in love. Every song you hear seems to say, Merry Christmas….”
Someday I am going to make a record. My children roll their eyes when they hear this. Not because my singing is horrific; actually, I am quite a good singer. It’s because of my incessant singing. It could also be because I still call them records.
Incessant singing is one of many quirks that lead my children to believe that I have lost my mind. Another quirk, especially this time of year, is my ability to go from joyful singing to frantic raging in the matter of seconds. This usually happens while untangling lights for the Christmas tree.
Nevertheless, at this joyous time of year let us not quibble over my mental state or lack there of. We have much more important things to do such as; shop ‘till we drop, bake ‘till we shake, and wrap ‘till we snap.
Because of the “frantic-ness” of the season, I am going to revisit a story I shared a couple of years ago. Many of you have asked me about “The Bentley Family Christmas,” so a little review might be good for all of us.
Keeping focused on what is important this time of year can get lost in the shuffle. These three things have helped our family.
First is the reasons for receiving gifts at Christmas. Our children would not receive gifts based on the “naughty or nice” scale. Knowing that God had given us the gift of His Son, when we had done nothing to deserve such a gift, would be our focus. Gifts would be given because of love, not merit.
The second reason relates to the number of gifts. This one is a little tougher. It is so hard for new parents — and sometimes even old parents — not to go crazy with presents at Christmas time.
We decided that we would give our children three gifts. They would receive a Gold gift, a Frankincense gift, and a Myrrh gift. This way we could retell the story of the Wisemen’s gifts for baby Jesus through our presents to the boys. We are still doing this with our now 16, 17 and 21-year-old boys.

This brings us to the third decision – Santa. There has been much debate about the “Santa Lie”. Some psychologists say we break the bond of trust by going to such great extremes to convince our children that Santa is real, only to finally tell them that he is “NOT!”
However, our decision concerning Santa had nothing to do with our boys’ psychological health. It wasn’t that we didn’t care. We just kinda figured that with us as parents, their mental health was a lost cause already. (Refer back to the incessant singing and frantic raging.)
Our real concern was to keep the focus on the birth of our Savior. Santa needed to be secondary. We decided to tell our children the story of Saint Nicholas — how he lived as a servant of God and was imprisoned for his faith, and how he gave his gifts secretly to the poor and needy. We shared how people pretend to be Saint Nick, because of what a great example he was of God’s love. We also told them that when they go to bed on Christmas Eve, Mom and Dad pretend to be Saint Nick and leave presents under the tree.
Of course, this all leads to explaining how Saint Nicholas died a long time ago and now lives in Heaven with God. I know this sounds sweet and wonderful to some of you, but I must add a warning. This little detail can blow up in your face.
Let me illustrate how the best of intentions can go terribly wrong.
When our son Adrin was three-years-old, a very nice clerk at K-Mart asked him what Santa was going to bring him for Christmas. He promptly told her, as if it were information she should have already known, “Santa is dead, he is in heaven.”

Having your child tell everyone in the check-out line that Santa Claus is dead is horrible enough. Having him say it, as if anyone who didn’t know this fact was an idiot is an “earth-open-up-and-swallow-me- now moment.”
We fixed our little problem by spending a few moments in the car talking about pretend. I explained we needed to play along with nice ladies who asked us about Saint Nick. Playing LOTS of pretend suddenly became another tradition for our Christmas Holiday.
Some of you precious readers have indicated that you think Donald and I are wonderful parents because of our Christmas traditions. It humbles me because I know how prideful I was when we started these traditions. I went about making sure we were “not like those people,” missing the true meaning of Christmas. Piously I avoided all the secular brouhaha surrounding the Holiday.
What is truly humbling is how many times I could have been the grand pooh-paw of “those people,” with all the brouhaha to boot. I am truly thankful that every time I have been prideful (because I wasn’t like “those people”) God lovingly, but firmly, held up a mirror to show me I am “those people.”
I need a Savior — and one is given — which is the true meaning of Christmas.

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