A Self-Righteous Christmas?

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You know when you see something on Twitter and worry it’s directed to you? I think it’s quite possible a friend’s Tweet was. It was about getting self-righteous about our choices at Christmas. And it made me think long and hard.

Last night I wrote this post on ParentLife. I knew what I wanted to talk about: giving charitable gifts during Christmas. But obviously I wasn’t sure how to get there. It didn’t feel right as I was composing the post, but I let it publish anyway.

And now I feel kind of awful.

No, we don’t do Santa. We don’t buy a lot of expensive presents. But do I care if you do? Not really.

Here is what I know about myself: it is VERY easy for me to get wrapped up in materialism. My love language is gifts. Add to that my firstborn, semi-perfectionist, people-pleaser history and you can probably see that I can get obsessive about buying gifts for others. IT HAS TO BE PERFECT. IT HAS TO BE JUST THE RIGHT AMOUNT, SHOW LOVE, AND MAKE THE PERSON HAPPY FOR THE REST OF HIS OR HER LIFE.

Yes, I realize that might sound goofy to most of you. But it’s the reason I’ve really had to step back at Christmas. Is that the attitude I want my kids to have? My only desire is that they will truly be able to separate Jesus Christmas from “Santa Christmas,” that to them Christmas will be more about giving and loving and knowing Christ than it is about perfectionism and cookies and – most of all – what toys they circled in the Toys R Us catalog.

baby jesus
source: davidking

As with most things, it’s an area where we can be driven by guilt. My biggest struggle during Christmas is worrying how others perceive our minimalist attitude. I’m pretty sure some days that my parents think we are Evil Incarnate for depriving our kids of Santa. Whenever someone asks Libbie what Santa is bringing her for Christmas I want to cry when she answers, “Santa doesn’t come to our house.” I’m embarrassed.

It’s easier to put up a defense of self-righteousness, isn’t it? To Facebook about my hatred for Elf on the Shelf and make a big deal of only reading Jesus-y Christmas books? (By the way, the first book we opened? It’s Christmas, David, which is jam-packed with Santa and sillyness.)

I think this is what I want to say: whatever you choices are – about Christmas, about parenting, whatever – don’t let them be driven by guilt or what others think. I don’t want to buy a bunch of gifts for my kids and I try not to let 8 million commercials and gift guides and peer pressure influence that decision. With everything, I want my decisions to be influenced only by God’s desires for me and my family. I am only held responsible for my children – not yours.

So this Christmas … make your decisions. But may they be driven by a desire to please God and not played out in a self-righteous fashion. I promise I’ll do my part to do the same. I hope talking about how we “do Christmas” around here will never make you feel guilty, accused, or angry.


9 thoughts on “A Self-Righteous Christmas?

  1. I DO NOT think you are evil. I am struggling with having the fun Christmas they show on television commercials and the Christ-centered Christmas I desire. I don’t know how to mesh the two of them. How do you combine baking cookies, putting up lights, watching a crazy amount of Christmas movies and keeping Christmas sacred and about Jesus’ birth?

    I will say that I believe, even though we had Santa and all that went with him, that we must have somehow taught you and Ashley that Christmas was about Jesus’ birth and helping others. Maybe????

  2. I love you! You are an amazing woman of God. I struggled with Santa when raising my kids. We did it and by the time the last one asked the first “Is there really a Santa” I just said “No honey there isn’t” and was glad to have that behind me. It is HARD to raise kids. It is HARDER to raise them and go against what others are doing. They may grow up and say you raised them weird. Consider that a great compliment. Continue to raise your children in the way that God is telling you to raise them and have the best, most amazing Christmas EVER!!!

  3. Personally, I’ve never felt any self-righteousness from you that I can think of. (So I’m kind of hoping it wasn’t my tweet, but I suspect it was. ;))

    I just… I hate sides. I really, REALLY do. I hate “Protestantism vs. Catholicism”, Santa vs. no Santa, homeschooling vs. public schooling… it’s all just too much! I honestly do not care one whit which side of those things people fall on. But when it becomes a badge of honor? It starts to sicken me. I am as bothered by the “oh, OUR family is not that materialistic!” people as I am by the “oh, our children receive 50 presents a piece” people.

    Just… enough already. Can we all just sit by the tree light and share some cocoa already? 🙂

  4. Keep up the good work Jessica and never apologize for taking a stand for what is right in the eyes of God. We never did Santa with our kids and one of our girls even told her teacher one time when asked to write a story about Santa, “You know he isn’t real, right?” We have no regrets and no guilt and our daughter who was recently married said they have decided not to do Santa with their children. Our children always knew their gifts were from parents who loved them. I am sure yours know the same and that is what is important.

  5. As someone who celebrates Christmas with both Jesus and Santa (even making sure to remind my kids that Jesus and Santa are both watching them), I didn’t think your post sounded self-righteous. I thought it sounded like someone who knew what she wanted to do with her own kids.
    I balance all of it out, the Jesus side with the Santa side because to us, Catholics, they are connected. Santa, SAINT Nicholas, did what he did in the first place because of his love of Jesus. In participating in this tradition, we feel we are honoring that love. When the times comes, we plan on telling our children that we always did what we did in the spirit of Saint Nicholas.
    I say, go with what works for you, go with what God is calling you to do, and don’t worry about what anyone else does.

  6. I completely agree with the non santa actually non-christmas approach. Only due to the fact of researching the origins of christmas and that it is a pagan holiday. but we do celebrate the birth of jesus. we give our children gifts when they need things, not when they want things. Our culture is sick with lies and it makes me angry. But yet we are not supposed to sit in the seat of the scoffer. So that makes us in a hard place. Not to judge others. Traditions are hard to change and break. We find comfort in them, all of us do. Whatever they may be. Santa, “elves,” trees, etc. It is good to step back and evaluate our lives and what we spend our time and money on. Though sometimes it is okay to save our sanity and allow some perhaps bad traditions in as long as our HEARTS honor GOD. 🙂 What i mean in all of this, Don’t worry about it as long as you are honoring the Lord. He knows your motives. And you are understood!

  7. Everyone has to make there own parenting decisions. It can be very challenging though to try not to care too much what other people think. If someone is offended by your choices, it is his or her problem or insecurity. Incidently, my cousins grew up without Santa (which was a financial decision) and they turned out just fine.

  8. Jess!!!!
    I LOVE your honesty & the fact that u see your faults & try to change those habits so they don’t become DEMONS!! I appauld this attitude..because I am also a first-born-people-pleaser who loves to give gifts just to make people happy.
    I don’t always succeed either…in fact while I admit very easily I don’t change habit… But I’m working on it.
    Thank you for your thoughts! They mirror so many people!

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