Santa Claus and The Purpose-filled Christmas

Hi, friends!Before we hop on the kids gift guide band wagon (which I'm PUMPED about btw!), I wanted to quickly touch on a few things that tend to be hot topics for parents this time of year. I feel like the best way to approach this is to start out by saying that what I'm going to share is what has worked for our family. I'm not saying that if you do it differently, you're doing it wrong. I definitely don't want to start any debates because I'm in full support of you doing what you feel best for your family! I hope this will be an encouragement to you and not a source of contention at all. So now that we've got the motive out in the open... let's start out talking about Santa!Growing up, we didn't do Santa. I can vividly remember a few people at church calling him Satan Claus. Maybe taking it a little far, ya think? My parents were influenced at the time by a very conservative christian teaching and Santa was a pretty big part of that.So then we had the group of believers and the group of non believers and I hear many a play date was ruined due to the reckless admission from children calling out others for being in one camp or another. It's become quite the issue.Here's what's ironic about the whole thing to me: I actually feel that putting a significant focus on not believing in Santa Claus and engaging in a debate on either side ends up actually putting more of a focus on Santa. Where wasn't the point from the beginning to take the focus off of the man in red?I feel no need to defend myself to anyone that we include Santa in our Christmas traditions. He's a symbol of the season in the same way that Christmas movies by the fire, baking cookies, and riding the Pink Pig are symbols of the season. We look forward to taking the girls to sit with Santa. It's the sweetest thing I've ever witnessed to see them run and jump in his lap and ask how his reindeer are doing.The way we have always approached Santa with the girls is kind of a need to know basis. The involvement is limited to sitting on his lap, leaving cookies and milk on christmas eve, and leaving big gifts on the porch that he couldn't fit down the chimney (a tradition my husband grew up with and loved!). Our conversations surrounding Santa are pretty limited and when He is brought up, we let the girls lead the conversation. When they ask us questions, we just ask them questions back. They are still so little and have no need for details. When they get older, we will just continue being open with them while also always trying to maintain the magic and wonder that surrounds the Christmas season.Our goal every day of the year with our girls is to help them be servant hearted, kind spirited, grateful little people. The Holiday Season has been proven to be a wonderful time to help them go even deeper into each of these character qualities. When they ask for a gift that's too expensive, we explain that we don't have it in our budget to get that gift. When they complain that others get better gifts than them (gosh this starts early!), we talk about the children who get nothing at all for Christmas and are sure to remind them (and ourselves!) that gratitude has a way of turning what we have into enough. Keeping things in perspective in the early years will set them up for the rest of their lives.I believe that it's possible to give gifts that are purposeful and that bring joy to our children, without  falling into the trap of excessive spending and over indulgence just for the sake of the season.It's our job as parents to be intentional about facilitating conversations with our kids that are rich with the truth they need to hear. We can easily find ourselves leaning too far in one direction or another on many different topics, so it's important to have balance and look for opportunities to talk about what this time of year represents: Hope for a lost people and Light in a dark world.As far as gift giving is concerned, I love to keep in mind the "something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read" idea. We may do two of each of these categories depending on the price point, but having a guide helps to keep me grounded when I'm tempted to buy ALL THE THINGS for my girls. And believe me, I am!We also make it a point to do a major toy room clean out a few weeks before Christmas and take toys to donate. This makes room for whatever new stuff they'll be getting but it's also an opportunity to talk about giving to others in need. We have enjoyed doing "adopt a family" in the past and the girls love packing up Operation Christmas Child boxes.What it all comes down to for me is this: We love because He first loved us. We give gifts because He gave the best gift to us. We celebrate this joyful time of year with our family pulled in close because while we live and breathe, we are blessed to be doing it.I encourage you to pray that God would help you to have a purpose-filled Christmas this year. I pray that we would have enough time for all the silly and seemingly insignificant things that make this time of year FUN while still seizing the opportunities to turn hearts young and old to heaven to gain the perspective that we need to keep all year long, but especially at Christmas time.Thanks for reading, sweet friends!