Wednesday, 19 December 2012

That time of year...

Yes its that 'magical' time of year, Christmas is almost here! I have been a very busy bee, sourcing gifts, organising food and a family get together, decorating the home, preparing a feast and being there for all the Christmas performances....

Like lots of women, its that time of year where your organisational skills are put to the test to create 'Christmas' whilst also being nurse to all those horrid bugs that like to join us for the festivities.

Amongst all of this, 'normal life' still takes place, washing-ironing-cleaning, the mundane, that never ceases.  Christmas is a time where as a Christian we are celebrating Jesus.  It is all too easy to get carried away with everything else and forget - that seizing the opportunity to teach the gospel to our children can take a back seat, rather than the main seat.

In our house, our children know that Father Christmas is not real.  They know that presents come from family and friends, and are given with love.  They know we are celebrating the birth of Jesus and believe me, this has not taken away any magic of Christmas.  They are still really excited and love this time of year.  We chose not to have 'Santa' in our lives, not because of any rules about being a Christian but personal choice. 

Our eldest son, from a young age hated Santa - he would always scream and protest at the sight of him (no matter how hard we tried to urge him).  He's also very bright and was a very suspicious pre-schooler.  I personally wanted to keep 'Santa' as I have such fond memories of believing in him as a child and wanted that for my children.  I couldn't wait to share the make believe of Santa and be creative in keeping him alive i.e. footprints, notes, reindeer dust.  However, for us it didn't work out this way. 
When he was 5, our son also became really interested in God and made a commitment to follow Jesus.  We decided as he was never a 'Santa' fan that asking him to believe in a person (which we knew not to be true) who brought presents and could always see if you're being good or bad, but you could not see, would be too confusing for him, when we were also teaching him about God.  We don't want to lie or confuse them, about the important things in life so we told him the truth.  It wasn't an easy decision as I still love Santa and its one of those things once you have said it you can't go back on.  When we told him, he was not at all upset - I think he was relieved that there would be no stranger walking around the house (even if he was dropping off presents).  After this, he actually didn't mind seeing Santa and was happy to join in the Christmas traditions we had previously tried, as he knows its not real, that the purpose is purely for fun.  If I hadn't already blogged about my eldest, this is very ASD, Christmas can be very hard time of year and sometimes they find it not enjoyable at all - even though you work your butt off.  It can be the change, the expectations which can lead to anxiety and worry. 
This is how we told him, we read the story of the real Father Christmas so he could understand where the tradition came from and why people choose to believe in him.  This was the right decision for us.  He is so more comfortable with Santa and has even visited him! (still not keen on getting too close though) Obviously when you tell one, he told the rest of his siblings but we try and drill into our children not to openly tell others.  I would hate for them to ruin someone else's dreams, however they're children with their own opinions...
Having no Father Christmas does make it easier to bring Jesus into the focus.  We celebrate advent Sundays together, by reading scripture discussing the meaning and often alongside doing a family craft activity and food.  This year we are colouring in a nativity scene bunting.  We have an advent calendar where by we build up the nativity scene day by day.  Each day we read a couple of verses from Luke 1 about the Christmas story.  They get to choose a chocolate from the tin.  They really look forward to it as we build in happy memories together. 
We still have stockings etc.  They enjoy their presents and understand that they come from our family and we're on a budget.  It helps them to write a realistic present wish list and I don't have to deal with 'was I a bad boy because Santa didn't buy me the ipad, I asked for?' conversations.  I have to add, in saying that, when I asked my children what they were hoping for B would like a ds game, N would like a spy watch, J said he didn't mind and L looked at me with a 'what are you talking about?' expression on his face.  He's 2 and upon putting up the tree said 'bir day?' and tried blowing out the lights :)
So although we don't do Santa we still have lots of fun and family traditions that they really look forward to... 

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