I know it's not even Thanksgiving. I know. I know Christmas is still a good month away. Around my house, however, we just can't deny it. We have to get a head start on all things Christmas and I like to just roll up Thanksgiving and Christmas into one big mega holiday. ;) After all, what greater gift to be thankful for than the birth of God's Son, my Savior? And even though I know it's not accurate that Jesus was born this time of year and all those details, to me it really doesn't matter. We try to be thankful and celebrate His birth with our lives every day, but I love that I can assign a day (Christmas) to make it very real and relatable to my children. We do a cake, candles, put the balloon wreath out, the whole deal. We LOVE Jesus' birthday around here, and Thanksgiving is kinda like a kick off for us. ;)
With that being said, we've already started with some Christmas themed movies, stories, etc. One was the veggie tales movie St. Nick and it was fabulous. My kids loved it, as did I, and it was a great way to start up the conversation and who Santa was and why he's a part of Christmas, which is clearly more about Jesus than Santa. However, there's no denying Santa and I have a soft spot for Christmas "magic." So Santa is staying around here, but I really felt like it was important and that my kids are definitely old enough to really understand jolly old St. Nick's true story.
I told them all about him, how he was raised in a Greek town on the Mediterranean by his parents who loved and served God fervently. How they were wealthy and his parents got sick and died while he was still a young boy. Nicholas was raised by his Uncle, a bishop, who taught him to read and to be a priest. I told my kids how he gave people gifts, small coins and food, often in secret. Then I explained a couple of legends about the three daughters that their father could not pay dowry for. I obviously explained this in very dumbed down, vague terms so they could understand. I told them how Nicholas heard of the girls and decided to give the family three bags of gold coins so that the girls could stay with their family. I told them how he did it in secret, and perhaps one of the bags fell into a girl's sock. When they asked me why he did it in secret, I explained that Jesus tells us to give and help one another, but not to tell everyone about what we are doing. I told them that it is fun to do things in secret and watch people give their thanks to Jesus for these lovely gestures and gifts instead of us.
It was a really neat opportunity to talk with my kids about something very important and afterwards, we watched the veggie tales movie. The movie was surprisingly accurate and did a wonderful job making it relatable for young kids who cannot understand what a dowry is, etc.
I told the kids that Jesus loves us all so much that for His birthday, He asked St. Nicholas, Santa Clause (I didn't get into the Dutch magic/folklore) to help Him give gifts to all the children instead of Himself receiving gifts. My kids (obviously) loved this idea, and asked if we could do the same. If we could do nice things in secret or give people things in secret. I thought what a wonderful way to teach my children to be loving, kind and giving without boasting about it or bringing ourselves any glory which is rightly God's.
So that is part of our Christmas mission, our tradition now. I am letting them pick one or two people or families a week that we will try to secretly love on. They think it's so exciting. I do too. And I love that we can celebrate Christmas with all the fun and magic of Santa, but without losing the glory and meaning of Jesus' birth and life.