You know when you see something on Twitter and worry it’s directed to you? I think it’s quite possible a friend’s Tweet was. It was about getting self-righteous about our choices at Christmas. And it made me think long and hard.
Last night I wrote this post on ParentLife. I knew what I wanted to talk about: giving charitable gifts during Christmas. But obviously I wasn’t sure how to get there. It didn’t feel right as I was composing the post, but I let it publish anyway.
And now I feel kind of awful.
No, we don’t do Santa. We don’t buy a lot of expensive presents. But do I care if you do? Not really.
Here is what I know about myself: it is VERY easy for me to get wrapped up in materialism. My love language is gifts. Add to that my firstborn, semi-perfectionist, people-pleaser history and you can probably see that I can get obsessive about buying gifts for others. IT HAS TO BE PERFECT. IT HAS TO BE JUST THE RIGHT AMOUNT, SHOW LOVE, AND MAKE THE PERSON HAPPY FOR THE REST OF HIS OR HER LIFE.
Yes, I realize that might sound goofy to most of you. But it’s the reason I’ve really had to step back at Christmas. Is that the attitude I want my kids to have? My only desire is that they will truly be able to separate Jesus Christmas from “Santa Christmas,” that to them Christmas will be more about giving and loving and knowing Christ than it is about perfectionism and cookies and – most of all – what toys they circled in the Toys R Us catalog.
As with most things, it’s an area where we can be driven by guilt. My biggest struggle during Christmas is worrying how others perceive our minimalist attitude. I’m pretty sure some days that my parents think we are Evil Incarnate for depriving our kids of Santa. Whenever someone asks Libbie what Santa is bringing her for Christmas I want to cry when she answers, “Santa doesn’t come to our house.” I’m embarrassed.
It’s easier to put up a defense of self-righteousness, isn’t it? To Facebook about my hatred for Elf on the Shelf and make a big deal of only reading Jesus-y Christmas books? (By the way, the first book we opened? It’s Christmas, David, which is jam-packed with Santa and sillyness.)
I think this is what I want to say: whatever you choices are – about Christmas, about parenting, whatever – don’t let them be driven by guilt or what others think. I don’t want to buy a bunch of gifts for my kids and I try not to let 8 million commercials and gift guides and peer pressure influence that decision. With everything, I want my decisions to be influenced only by God’s desires for me and my family. I am only held responsible for my children – not yours.
So this Christmas … make your decisions. But may they be driven by a desire to please God and not played out in a self-righteous fashion. I promise I’ll do my part to do the same. I hope talking about how we “do Christmas” around here will never make you feel guilty, accused, or angry.