I’ve been reading a lot of blogs recently about the different traditions that certain families choose to participate in/forego…and it got me thinking about the choices we’re making with our children now that they’re reaching an age where they’re starting to understand more.
I would say (for the most part) we’re following the same traditions as our families. There are a few exceptions which I’ll highlight and then I want to expound upon the “Santa vs. no Santa” debate.
1. Thanksgiving: Pilgrims and Indians. Though not discussed at all this year, this is a tradition we will not be celebrating in our home. Having spoken with First Nations (Native American) people, we want to be sensitive to the deep-seeded pain that is associated with the origins of the Thanksgiving holiday. Though I’m sure there were some amicable relationships formed between the Europeans and First Nations people, it is also signal of the “beginning of the end” for their way of life. With the European flock and claim to their land came an extremely horrific genocide of an entire nation of people. Somehow the frivolty of dressing up as pilgrims and Indians during Thanksgiving has lost it’s luster for me. I’m not quite sure yet how we’ll approach this holiday with our children (suggestions are welcome!) We won’t be encouraging them to play Cowboys and Indians either.
2. The Nativity scene. We have very little religious paraphenalia in our home, quite intentionally. It’s not that we don’t want our children to be exposed on a daily basis to Christianity and the stories and life of Jesus. We talk about him and pray to him every day with them. What we are being very intentional about is the images of Jesus that we display in our home. It might be a somewhat trivial thing to many of you, but we feel strongly that it’s important that the first images of Jesus that our children see are as close as possible to the true origin of Christ. In our country, we are littered with images of Euro-Jesus. And I have to say that having grown up with that image, whenever I pray, that image is what pops into my head first. Why does it matter? Jesus loves everyone and it doesn’t matter what color he was, right? I would beg to differ. While ultimately his color won’t matter (in Heaven), we live in a fallen, prejudice, and racially-driven world. White is often viewed as good/right. Dark is seen as bad/wrong. In developing their identities in Christ and view of the world/compassion for it… we want them to have an image of who Jesus was, a man with darker skin. We are on the hunt for children’s bible stories and artwork that will depict this more accurately. Please let me know if you have anything! The one piece of Christmas art that I display is this beautiful stocking that the Chef had made for me when we were engaged. It’s a nativity scene that depicts the darker-skinned version of Mary/Joseph/Jesus. I treasure it.
3. The Santa vs. no Santa debate. Often times the argument against Santa is that parents believe that they are lying to their children and why should they trust them about Jesus, when they lied to them about Santa. Honestly, I’m yet to meet someone who was raised to believe in Santa and Jesus that turned away from their faith in Jesus when they found out Santa was just a story. Both the Chef and I were raised to believe in Santa (and Jesus) and we have very fond memories as children of the magical feeling at Christmastime and the excitement over the story of Santa. This in no way took away from our belief and reverence for Jesus. It’s fun to see the beautiful child-like faith that the boys have in both stories right now. I’m confident that as they get older they will be able to differentiate between what is real and what is a story. In fact, if we really believe in the Holy Spirit, we know he will guide them as they have a relationship with Him to know that Jesus is true, regardless of the child-like stories and traditions they grew up with. Again- not judging any parent and what they choose to do regarding this debate. Just stating what our opinion on the matter is 🙂
And we finally have a fireplace this year (though not working)! The boys helped me put up our stockings yesterday and we had a great time. They love to recite whose stocking belongs to whom.