“But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice.” Philippians 1:18
Here I sit in the sacred space of yogi snacks, spilt sippy cup puddles, and puzzle pieces that may never find their home again. Oh, and Christmas décor. Oh, the beautiful, toddler-proof Christmas décor. My home looks like Country Living is forcing an awkward relationship with the Babies R Us catalog.
Christmas is different with a toddler.
This morning I caught Summer licking the glitter off of my sparkly snowman ornament. She looked like she had a tiny grill for about 3 minutes.
Last night, I spent a full 15 minutes picking meatballs and tater tots out of the Christmas tree because she felt her supper was better adorning a tree than filling her tummy.
Yesterday, I heard a crash and rounded the corner to learn she had been swinging from the Christmas stockings that were miraculously still dangling off the mantle.
As for Christmas lights? Those are just flashy teething toys. At least that’s what Summer thinks.
And at this very moment, my coffee table and couches form an insurmountable fortress around my Christmas tree to protect it from the mighty pursuit of both Summer and Baylor.
My heart is wrapping itself around the season of Advent in a new way this year. For the first time, I’m shepherding a little heart. She is tiny. She understands few of my words. But she is a fierce force in this world, and I want to be intentional in our time together. I want her to enjoy the season of Christmas in all of its glory.
When you become a parent, you suddenly realize that you are the worst person in the world. Unexpectedly, you feel guilty for doing something so simple as going to the bathroom. Or not sharing your cookie. Or turning on the television. Or not wearing your seat belt. Or answering the phone while driving. Or buying the bumper pad. Or allowing the baby to use a pacifier. Or letting the baby cry it out, or not buying the GMO free baby food…
And so, with this Christmas season, there are a number of choices and potential shame narratives available for us to adopt. Do we do Santa? Do we not do Santa? Do we flood the home with gifts Christmas morning? Do we decorate with snowflakes and santas or do we display the nativity scene on the mantle and discuss it dutifully? Do we get the tree? Because I hear that tradition comes from pagan roots? Wait – should we celebrate Christmas at all? Because according to the Jewish calendar, Jesus was likely not born in December.
Followers of Jesus and parents among us are plagued with all sorts of questions. Some of which, we have never considered until little hearts entered our home.
We can choose to be carried away by 37 parties, really good cookies, eggnog, and caroling. Or, we can sit with this reality that there are choices to be made regarding how we live our lives and focus our hearts during this season. And those choices will impacts our families.
So, as I sat with Jesus amidst my Christmas decorations and scattered toys, I found myself struggling with these questions. I refuse to bow to mommy shame any longer. How would He have us live this season?
In the silence I felt Him draw near and say, “Through Santa, I smile. Through giving gifts, I thrive. Through cookies, I share of my sweetness. Through carols, I share the music of heaven. Through the tree, I allow the sanctity of nature in your home. Just teach her to see me in all of my creation.”
It seems we can become so enamored and entranced, even distracted, with how to do parenting correctly that we miss the simple calling to teach our kids to see Him. And hear Him. And obey Him. Even and especially in the midst of a busy season.
What if these “distractions” associated with “taking Christ out of Christmas” became signposts that actually point our hearts toward Jesus.
As I dive into the word “gifts,” I realize that nothing brings me more joy than giving my baby gifts. I can only imagine the look on God’s face as many people open gifts this Christmas season. Now that I have experienced the joy of giving to my child, I better resonate with God’s love for giving and receiving.
I want to be intentional without overcomplicating matters. So, though I always thought I would never “do Santa,” I feel God giving me permission to be childlike and fun in this way. To invite enchantment in our home, much like He invites the mystery of enchantment into our lives every day if we have eyes to see it.
And, every step along the way, I get to show my daughter how our giving, our receiving, our tree, our cookies, our carols, and our Santa point to Jesus as the hope of the world. And I get to tell her of how He was born. How God chose to send Him. How He chose what was meek and humble. How He chose the most unorthodox method to share salvation and Love. She will learn from hearing me talk to Him throughout the day and watching me worship along to the carols. And she will absorb Truth by watching me be with Him in the midst of this season.
The greatest gift I could give her this season would be showing her how to enjoy Him and His creation. How to be with Him in all things.
I think God rejoices in the fact that millions of people are singing His praises this time of year, even if they do not know that is what they are doing. I think He is excited to be celebrated, even if it’s not “the right calendar.” I think that He is the thrill of hope, and His invitation is for us to enjoy the enchantment of this season, without overcomplicating it.
The question this Christmas is not whether we are “parenting right,” or whether we are giving Jesus due credit. The question is, are we seeing Him in all that we do and are we inviting Him to speak to us along the way? And are we teaching our children to do the same?
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:6–7