For our generation, Santa was Christmas. My dad was a Santa expert and would do anything to help Santa keep his Christmas secrets. Christmas was a bit of a letdown in our family once my brother and I grew up.
My husband talks of telling his mother that 'reindeer CAN'T fly!' Oh, but Santa has a helicopter....
When my older kids were little, Christmas was all about Santa. Yet, somehow, it always felt a little off kilter. So, as the younger kids came along, we decided to play it down a little. Santa still comes to visit, leaving a gift for each of them, St. Nick leaves goodies in our shoes on Dec 6th, and Jesus gets a birthday cake on Christmas day.
Trying to focus Christmas on Jesus can become a major undertaking these days. You're considered weird if Jesus is bigger than Santa. And yet, it always feels awkward to think that anyone could be that confused. AND...willing to let their young charges think that way.
Needless to say, we try to put more emphasis on Jesus in our house while still allowing Santa his own special place. Kids are hold-outs, though. They believe. In spite of what they see and hear, they believe.
Now that's the lesson I want them all to really get! Hopefully, the transition of belief will float smoothly from childhood into an eternity.
So, a few days ago, my 3 yr old is pulling the paper off of a handful of stickers he received at the doctor's office for being what, compliant? I sat with him as he showed me the colorful stickers. He turned one over and smiled a smile that would melt butter. His shining eyes shifted from the fat man with the white beard up to my eyes. "Ho Ho Ho," he exclaimed.
How did he know??