*disclaimer: The Bible teaches clearly that we (children of God) are free in Christ, free of the law and of sin, we now live under grace. God has made each of us unique and we will all have unique stories, I hate division between believers and have no desire to speak about Santa in general terms, if it works for you, awesome! What God has laid on my heart may be different from what He lays on yours.
I have always loved Christmas, I loved everything about it, the music, the food, the parties and of course the gifts. Santa Claus held an important part of my heart growing up and I remember trying so hard to believe in him even after I knew the truth, because a Christmas without Santa seemed like it had lost it's magic. The fact that Jesus was born on Christmas was a passing thought in my mind, something to go through the motions about so that we could get on to the good stuff, presents!
When we had children I jumped right onto the Santa band wagon, so excited to celebrate Christmas through my children, by buying them as many gifts as I could afford, and placing them under the tree from Old St. Nick. I spent hours during the holidays, making my house look perfectly decorated, planning parties, and meals. I found the perfect family photo and mailed it out to all our friends. I bought into everything the world told me was required to have a Merry Christmas.
The only problem was I wasn't merry, and every year it got worse. I found that during the Christmas season I spent less time with God than during the other 11 months of the year. I found myself wanting things, bowing down to worship money and new items, that I suddenly needed, craved. Every Christmas Eve service was spent trying to keep my kids from messing up their nice outfits and trying to keep my eyes open after all the work I had been doing to make this season special.
Last year God began to work on my heart, to ask me what exactly it was that I was celebrating during the Christmas season. He began to reveal the sins that were stealing my joy and ask me to choose Him over the world, to care about glorifying Him over glorifying myself. It had been a long time coming and although I felt a little apprehensive about doing Christmas differently than the world around me I was ready, I was ready to not take a month off of worshiping my King, ready to not have a month filled with stress instead of joy.
First God began to show me that I could not worship two people during Christmas time, I could either make my focus (and teach my children) about Santa Claus or I could focus on and turn my children towards the God who came down to save us. Even after I knew without a doubt that was what God was asking of me, I delayed nervous of what others would think, till one afternoon Kylynn (who at the time was four) came to me and said, Mommy the tooth fairy and Santa Clause, they're just for pretend right? And it sealed the deal for me I started to try and contradict her and the Spirit wouldn't let me, I could not lie to her. So later that evening I told Kyle I think God would like us to give up Santa Claus and he turned to me and said, me too. So that was that.
The problem with getting rid of old habits is you must have new habits to put in their place and so this year has definitely been a year of adjustment for us and I know that each year it will become easier and we will form new traditions. We have been reading about the coming of Jesus and the events that surrounded it, throughout the Bible during this month each night after dinner and it is like the scales have been removed from my eyes. I am seeing for the first time what really happened all those years ago. It's not a story of a baby being born, but a story of love so deep that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords would bow low, would endure suffering we could never understand to enter the world He created. It's a story of God fulfilling His word that prophets spoke long ago, it's a story of God doing for us what we couldn't do, in order to conquer sin and death. It's a story of a God saving His people, no matter the cost.
So this Christmas I look at my children as we sit around the Christmas tree, drinking hot chocolate, reading His word (His word that is alive! is there anything more magical than that) and we write them on our heart, we talk about what we're thankful for, and finally I am understanding the meaning of Christmas. This year, I have found my joy, and it is better than anything this world had to offer.