Today was quite a busy day. I only had a half day of work, which actually went by rather quickly. (It’s a rare thing when I get to just work on front-end code, so that was awesome.) Jessica and her sister Chyral, with Namine in tow, picked me up from work. From there, we went to the mall in order to finish our Christmas shopping. Crazy, right? Yes. Yes, it was.
One of the big concerns Jessica and I have as parents is the dueling concept of Christmas having to do with Santa (where the focus is presents for meee) and Jesus’ birth (where the focus is not on self, but on God’s ultimate sacrifice). Namine has been to see “Santa” on several occasions now, and has shown particular enthusiasm for the idea of this large red lobster man (to paraphrase Tim Burton).
This, of course, concerned us. One might argue that Namine is only three; let her believe in Santa for another year or two. (Some children, I’ve been told, have believed in Santa until they were as old as nine. So what harm? For starters, Matthew 6:24 comes to mind:
No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.
Jesus was talking about serving God and money, but I believe it’s applicable here as well. Where you’re talking about two conflicting interests, namely, God versus something else, God always has to win out. Santa, reindeer, snowmen, presents; these are all fine things, inescapable and prevalent throughout the media and American society as they are, but the focus must be on God.
Namine knows that Santa is make-believe. (I imagine she’ll be the harbinger of horrible, awful truth to her classmates in the future. We will subsequently receive angry phone calls from teachers and parents, and we will laugh.) When dealing with little kids, you don’t know sometimes if the lesson you’re trying to teach has sunken in yet. Namine showed us today that she understands. She gets it.
Today, while we were in Stride-Rite today trying out some new shoes on Namine – at this point Jessica was checking out, actually – Namine saw some Santa decorations hung up on the walls. She said, “Look, Haha! Saaantaaaa! Yeah!” So I asked her if Santa was real. “Umm, no. Santa’s not real. Christmas is Jesus’ birthday.”
When we left the mall, it was late. It was dark. And it was snowing. I like snow as much as the next guy, but not right when we have to drive home. Children, on the other hand, have no such worries. When we walked outside, Namine started laughing. I love her laugh; it’s open and free. It wipes away worry and care, replacing them with the joy and happiness of that moment. She laughed such a laugh in that falling snow, and exclaimed, “Look, Haha, it’s snowing! It’s snowing for Jesus’ birthday, because it’s Christmas! It’s snow for Jesus!”