“Oh, Hi little one“, said this excited lady, flapping her arms, at the shopping center, “It won’t be long until Christmas… Santa is going to come and bring you lots of presents… Are you excited?!” I did the ‘ol smile and nod as she walked past. She was speaking to my 15 month old daughter, Goldie, who couldn’t exactly verbalize any response. It was October 30 and the Christmas decorations had just gone up… exactly EIGHT WEEKS BEFORE CHRISTMAS!!! EIGHT WEEKS! The Christmas music… already blaring on the mall’s sound system… Eight. More. Weeks. Why, why why?!?!
It’s not that I ‘don’t do Christmas‘. And, it’s not that I ‘do Christmas‘ either. How can I explain it… Well, for starters, my husband and I are both technically Jewish, although we’re really only 1/2 each. So, while Christmas celebrations were happening all around us at kids, we were never really in the thick of it. We still had some fun. We both had Christmas trees as kids. We did Santa. I sang Christmas songs in my high school choir. I bought and received Christmas presents between friends. Went to Christmas parties. Watched Christmas movies, etc. But then… when it came time for Christmas Day, all of a sudden, I felt immensely bored and left out of the party. You see, Christmas Day was the day that it really hit home to me, that Christmas was for… Christians. You know… Jesus… ‘The Reason for the Season?’. So, what is all this other crazy insanity that people subject themselves to? I do understand it’s also a time for family and traditions. But really… Christmas decorations and Christmas music for eight weeks before Christmas?! (And the sales marketers sing like angels).
My kids love seeing all the Christmas decorations in the shopping centers and around town. And, don’t get me wrong, I love a reason to get a little festive myself. We do at least one batch of christmas cookies every year, for fun. But, do you know, that my three and a half year old, Margo, loves something far more than the trees, the mistletoe, the santas and the elves. What Margo loves most of all, is when she finds the one and only nativity scene that you *might* find in any given shopping center. Amongst the millions of Christmas decorations hanging everywhere, she loves that one little box with statues inside.
The one and only nativity scene in the entire mall and she runs up to it and yells, “Baby ‘Genius‘” (I totally giggle at her Freudian slip). ”Baby Jesus,” I correct her. Then, she asks me over and over again about all the people in the scene and why they are all surrounding this baby. So, I tell her about how Jesus was a very special baby who was born and when he grew up, he spread peace and love around the world. Then, she asks more and more questions (as three year olds do). About the grown up people in the scene, the animals, the wise men, and most importantly, she wants to know why baby Jesus does not look like a newborn! I actually had to look that one up and discovered that the wise men came to visit Jesus when he was about 2 years old. Every time we see a nativity scene, she asks the same questions, even though she knows the answers already. She just loves to hear about it.
For the record, I’m not ‘really‘ Jewish. I embrace the diversity in all cultures and religions. I know a little bit about most religions and I know that all religions (when practiced without a distorted view) have the capability to uplift human values and to foster love, caring and compassion. Although, I don’t practice any one religion, I would say that I do have a close relationship with God/consciousness/the creator/divinity, or whatever you prefer to call it. I’m totally cool with Christmas. I’m even totally cool with all the non-religious side of the Christmas chaos, Santa, the decorations, the shopping, the Christmas kiddie crafts, etc. Having said that, I don’t know about you, but I give out a huge sigh of relief when January rolls around and life, that has been previously interrupted for the past month or so, can return to normal.
I think kids are really authentic and intuitive. Of course, they love the Christmas decorations and the craziness, but when I tell Margo a story (like the story of baby Jesus), she really laps all that stuff up. My three year old gets what Christmas is all about. When a child is left to their own curiosity, without imposing your views or beliefs on them, I think they tend to figure out the truth by themselves. She has no idea how Santa got all mixed up in this. She even asked me last year (at 2 1/2 years old), how Santa and Jesus were related. I had to do some mega googling to find that one out, and really could only barely give her an explanation.
So, this Christmas, I’m doing even less festive stuff than usual… I may not even make that mandatory batch of Christmas cookies. I’ve sort of lost the momentum. I’m not saying people shouldn’t celebrate however they want to! Not at all! Go all out and have fun! Shop till you drop, sing, be with family, do all that stuff! However, for me, I may just keep telling my daughter cool stories about Jesus… after all, they’re pretty good stories to hear.