I’ve been meaning to write a post about Christmas for a while. I’ve hesitated because a) we’ve been busy moving into a new apartment, and b) I just haven’t known how to encapsulate my thoughts. I have to really guard myself against cynicism, during the holidays more than ever. I know my experiences overseas really shape my perspective. And it’s been a while since I’ve experienced a ‘normal’ American Christmas. I’m sure this influences how I feel about it now. But now that we’re settling back into American life (for the first time in about seven years) we have an opportunity to start new traditions, and let old ones end.

I have to admit that Christmas in America is a bit of a struggle for me. I’m not really into the whole Santa thing. It’s so sad how Santa has become such a distraction from the true meaning of the holiday. Santa has hijacked Christmas away from Christ. Yes, this sounds harsh. And I bet that most people don’t see it this way. But it really is true. I know this because while overseas I got a very different view of Christmas, one that didn’t involve Santa.. In Indonesia Christmas is strictly a religious holidays. You see, in Indonesia Christmas was the holiday for Christians. Every religion got a holiday. The Muslims got Ramadan, Buddhists got Waisak (Buddha’s birthday), etc. Everybody got their fair share. Christmas was for the Christians. There really was no Santa Claus, no reindeer, no presents under the tree. Everybody knew it was for the Christians because it was Jesus’ birthday, and naturally Christians would want to celebrate that. And due to this simplicity and national nod of the head, we were able to celebrate Christmas as Christians, without any of the distractions you find in the west. It was a simple and surprisingly meaningful Christmas, and an experience I’ll never forget.

So when I see Christmas in America it’s first shocking and then disheartening. When Santa and reindeer enter the picture I just shake my head and ask “why?” I can’t help but think how confusing we’ve made this holiday. How on earth are we supposed to teach our kids and family about Jesus’ birth, angels, and God’s miracles when we get so wrapped up with reindeer and Santa Claus? Perhaps it can be done, but again, why? It seems incredibly dangerous to allow children to believe a lie about Santa and then expect them to believe the truth about Jesus. This holiday is about Jesus, period. Not Santa. When we mix the two together we encourage belief in something that isn’t real while jeopardizing and minimizing something that is! I for one am not willing to confuse this important event. We don’t need Santa for Christmas.

We plan on doing Christmas a little different. It won’t be about Santa. It won’t be about being good or getting presents. We want to keep it simple, get to the heart of the matter, and throw away everything else that’s not. Instead of buying a million presents we plan on just buying ONE for each member of our family. God didn’t flood the world with a million presents. He gave His best and most special gift on Christmas. So our family celebrates Best Gift Christmas. And we will give one gift to each other to honor and remember what God did. This is our way of keeping Christmas about Christ.

We don’t want to be distracted this holiday season.  It takes some guts to go against the grain. But by taking little steps we can make this season religious again, a true celebration.

Here’s another good article about Santa Claus called What To Do About Santa. Check it out and pass it along.