Monday, December 8, 2008

Raising Kids Outside the Box: Evaluating Christmas Traditions

I suppose it is just in my nature to question things. Perhaps I even take the whole "don't take things at face value" too far. But I like to be informed and I can't stand to go along with my head in the sand, doing whatever "they" tell me to do. Holidays have become a major source of skepticism for me since I became a mom. Never as a child did I question such traditions as Santa Claus, the Christmas stocking, the decorating of a tree, or the exchanging of gifts. It was just all done, every year, no questions ask.

This year I've noticed that I'm taking more of an interest in some traditions... some new, some old. My kids are older now and I can teach them about things and create traditions for them.

For instance, my favorite Christmas tradition was always the stocking. But until today, I had no idea why we hang stockings. I read about the legends and I also learned that in some cultures children hang their stockings by their beds. I love that idea! I think that I might introduce it to my children this year as well. How fun would it be to wake on Christmas morning with a stocking full of goodies next to your bed?

And Advent. I've never even heard of Advent really. But I've read about it on people's blogs lately. I always thought it was just some sort of calendar. Now, I know differently! I've been reading about this lovely concept and I may have to consider throwing it into our holiday celebration next year!

Of course there is the Santa issue as well. When I became a mom, I decided to not do the whole "Santa lie". "Finding out" that Santa was not real was traumatizing to me and it truly made me doubt Jesus as well. I'd been questioning Santa's existence for a couple of years at least but my parents just continued to lie to me. They even went so far as to have someone write me a very confusing letter "from Santa" claiming that Santa and Jesus were one and the same. Talk about idiotic. So, once my dad finally admitted to me that I was right, Santa was a fake, I was crushed. I hated Christmas from then on and I never ever want to do something like that to my children. Further, I just don't see the point. I have friends who celebrate St. Nicholas who was a real man. I could potentially get into that. But for now, we'll just focus on reminding our children any time that they see a Santa that he's no more real than Spongebob Squarepants. My kids seem to be enjoying the holidays just fine without the lie anyway!

So, it's not totally necessary to continue to do things the way that you were taught to do them. I find that I'm quite enjoying mixing things up a bit and making my own traditions for my own family. Traditions that have good memories instead of excrutiating ones for me. I'm looking forward to seeing how it goes over the next few years! Christmas is starting to look very different for our household and I like it that way.

4 comments:

  1. I completely feel your pain on the Santa I issue I struggle with this. I grew up on Santa and I loved it the tradition and memories that I have are great for me. I never told Jayden there was a Santa but I didn't have to with the media and all the hoopla she believes there is one on her own. I struggle with do I tell her the truth? I think traditions are the key!

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  2. Tanyell,
    I had to work hard to keep my son from believing in Santa. He kept seeing or hearing things that made him think otherwise but I insisted that, despite what others might tell him, it wasn't true. Santa is not real and doesn't bring him gifts. Mommy and Daddy do. He finally gets it. Good luck on making the right choice for you and your family!

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  3. I'm with you Mandy. Jenson knows all about Santa and how he brings gifts from television..but we don't push it on him. He also knows that Mommy and Daddy give him his presents and that Christmas is for Jesus' birthday. That's one reason why I love Polar Express so much..because although it shows the one side of Santa..it is such a great movie to teach them about believing in Jesus by having faith. I love it for that reason alone! Can't wait to see you!

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  4. We do Santa (Saint Nickolas). We talk about the wonderful things he's done. And how he took care of all children everywhere. We do not however do Dec 6th, because that's my birthday and we're usually a bit busy or traveling then.

    Growing up I asked mom if there was a Santa and she said, "When you don't believe in him he doesn't bring gifts, so, let me know if you decide you don't believe in him..." which I thought was an awesome response. We'll be doing the same thing. ;)

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