Wednesday, December 9, 2009

How Do You Do Christmas?

I've shared a few thoughts on what the Fletcher family is doing for Christmas.

But, I would love to hear how you do Christmas!

In particular, I really want to know how other Christian families do the whole gift giving thing. What I really want to ask is "what do you do with Santa?"

I've read a few postings here and there. Sometimes I'll see "we don't do the Santa thing" or "we do gifts from Santa and then read about Jesus birth in the Bible". What does that mean? What do you say to your children (and how old are they)? Have you always done it that way?

Would someone please answer me? Let's discuss this. (I will answer what we've done and what we plan to do in the comments section...if we can get this going.)

23 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Caley just asked me the other day if Santa was coming to our house. I thought about it and had no desire to tell her to believe in something that was a lie. I want her to believe me when I tell her to believe in Jesus. Santa is not relevant to anything, but the worldly distraction from the true meaning of Christmas. I told her that Santa was just pretend and not real, he was just for fun. She was perfectly content w/ that answer. I see no reason to encourage belief in someone that is not real. She could have cared less what the answer was, she just wanted an answer. I believe it is only adults who feel a need to push that false belief on children for our fun or just b/c it was tradition. Children trust and rely on us for everything; they will believe whatever we tell them. I do not want her to have any doubt what-so-ever that she can count on me for the truth in all areas of her life. I also believe that when children realize that Santa is not real, something is lost...they get injured, let down or even devastated that they were led by their parents, whom they trust, to believe in a lie. Children don't need lies; they need to know they can count on us for all things, especially the truth. I make certain she knows it is Jesus's birthday and we are celebrating it with Him. That is why we give presents to each other. The joy and excitement of Christmas still is present for her just as it was prior to that question. Kids love presents and they love us, that will not change absent a false belief in Santa. Our relationships w/ our children must be based on absolute truth, without allowing the doubt of our sincerity to enter into them. Our relationship w/ them and their relationship w/ Christ is all that matters. It may seem like a trivial matter to some, or just a small lie or just for fun….but I believe there is not such thing. Either it’s the truth or it’s a lie. No child needs to believe in Santa, they need to believe in Jesus…he is all the joy, love, caring, generous, gracious, merciful, and wonderful miracle that they need, in fact their soul requires it to be hole.

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  3. We don't do the "Santa thing" in our house. We felt it was lying to our children. If our kids found out later that Santa is a lie we don't want them to question whether Jesus is a lie, too.
    We still give gifts but we really try to find Jesus in the season.
    We have four kids,ages 7, 4, 2 and 6 months and we have a joyous season with Jesus and no Santa!

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  4. Hi pretty girl.

    I can't figure out how to post on your blog, so here is what we do. Our Church always put's on a huge outdoor presentation called "Jesus Is Born". It is a play that tell's all about the Christmas Story. At the very end, there is an electric parade, (something like the one at Disneyland). Then Santa rides his sleigh to the manger, and he removes his hat, and kneel's at the feet of the baby Jesus.

    Maybe you can use some of the idea's.
    Have a lovely Christmas.

    Love to you,
    Sharon

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  5. You ladies rock! Thanks so much for jumping in on the discussion.

    Marlina, I think your answer is very much the heart of many believers who are struggling with what to do and how to approach the topic. I love that Caley is asking. Mine have all been asking, as well. And, I think your assessment that it's adults who feel the need to perpetuate "Santa" is true...especially in light of tradition (b/c they had it as a child, etc).

    Amy--how awesome to see your words! Thank you for sharing.

    Sharon--I copied and pasted what you posted on FB to here. Thank you so much. I actually saw one of those figurines and love them!

    Anyone else out there that wants to share? You can tell us how you "do Santa" if that's what your family does. I just want to hear what others do.

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  6. I grew up without believing in Santa, so it was sort of a no-brainer for me. My dad said he felt lied to by his parents as a child after he found out. We knew the whole Santa story, just that it wasn't actually real. That's how I handled it with my girls, too. I would feel like I was lying to them otherwise.

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  7. from Michelle (in 2 parts) via a Facebook messageDecember 10, 2009 at 8:18 AM

    We love Santa. Developmentally young kids thrive in fantasy and live many of their waking hours in this "make believe" "pretend" world. It is necessary for their minds/hearts to develop and grow. Dr. James Dobson, Christian child development psychologist, whom I love, feels Santa fits into this category and wouldn't take the Santa experience away from any child.

    We have not had to lie to our children, but rather answer very vaguely and some, "well what do you think?" gets thrown back at them.

    We took them to see "the big guy" today. Abby is 10 and figured it out a few years ago. When she asked we answered truthfully and asked that she not tell her friends who still believed but wait for them to question it as she did. She loves being "in" on it for Avery now 7. (I'm guessing this will be the last year for her to still really believe.) Abby didn't feel deceived and we have quite a bit of fun with "Santa" festivities. Making cookies and leaving them out for him, writing him letters, and santa writes back telling them the wonderful things he has noticed each year with the girls. Shawn writes these and they are a treasure! He doesn't journal or write to them, but each year he takes the time to write a letter to his daughters telling them how wonderful they are and how proud he is of them. My dad did this for us and I still have those letters. Even from when I was a horrid rebellious teenager he still wrote to me what a treasure I was. I know I looked more forward to my letters from Santa after I knew the truth than before cause they were from my dad and very real. Having our children in public school (our view is for them to be IN the world but not OF it and to be missionaries disguised as students/kids) it is a perfect segway into Christ through Santa.

    We get to it every year at the Christmas parties and I come prepared with my nativity from Bethlehem, real gold, francensense and myrhh and share the first Christmas with them. Kids can bring it up so ask them about Santa!

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  8. from Michelle (in 2 parts) via a Facebook msgDecember 10, 2009 at 8:19 AM

    I have attached two quotes I found on the focus on the family website that are responses to questions most parents raise about Santa, is it lying, taking away the focus from Christ etc...

    "Every parent who has encouraged their child to believe in Santa will encounter a question like this at some point. The answer doesn't require a long, tortured explanation or feelings of guilt on your part. I would simply say something like this:
    "Honey, when you were a little girl, you liked to play make-believe. I remember when you pretended you were a princess for months after watching Cinderella on video. When you were younger, it was fun for you to believe that Santa Claus was a real person.
    "Families all over the world have legends and stories about a person like Santa Claus, and young children love to believe in him. He's not a real person, but he represents a lot of the things that are good — like kindness, generosity and fun. Now that you are older, you may not believe in Santa Claus the person anymore, but you can still believe in all of those good qualities."


    "It's fun to believe in Santa, who is an imaginary character, but of course in our family, we know that believing in Jesus has eternal value. A relationship with Him gives our lives true meaning and purpose, and it guarantees that after we die, we will live forever with Him in Heaven.
    Families all over the world have legends and stories about a person like Santa Claus, and young children love to believe in him. Santa represents a lot of the things that are good — like kindness, generosity, and fun. It's important for you to understand that Santa isn't a real person, but you can still believe in all of those good qualities."
    You might also tell your kids about the real Saint Nicolas, upon whom Santa Claus is based. He was born in Turkey, about two hundred years after Jesus. He was a believer in Christ, and as a teenager, he heard about a poor family that couldn't afford to buy food. So he snuck up to their house one night and tossed a handful of gold coins through the window. They were overjoyed when they found the coins the next morning, but they never found out who did it.
    Nicholas was so thrilled about helping a family in need that this became a regular habit with him. His family was wealthy, so he dedicated his entire life to sharing what he had with others.
    Later, Nicholas became a bishop in the village of Myra, and because of his humility, he was given the title of Sainthood. From then on, he was known as St. Nick. Some people say that he still comes around once a year giving gifts to those in need."

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  9. Michelle (okay, last part) via FB msgDecember 10, 2009 at 8:19 AM

    Michelle again - We also reinforce that Santa loves Jesus and trust Him as his savior and that is why he is such a big part of Christmas all over the world.

    We have always seen the same Santa at the mall, and when he moved to the Villages of Allen we followed him. Many years ago when my kids both still believed we went to the mall to see him before thanksgiving. It is never crowded then, and I hate the crowds for santa. There was only one other family ahead of us and the precious little girl was severely disabled, mentally still an infant and wheelchair bound at about age
    8. She was there with her full time nurse and mom. The nurse took this precious child from her wheelchair and placed her in his arms. He cradled her like an infant, and held her and talked to her for probably 20 minutes. While her mom and nurse, and I, just cried. It was an amazing teachable moment with my girls that Santa knew what was best. To give all the time to that sweet child and we would wait however long was needed. My girls never ask for anything crazy from santa and he often says he will check it over with mom and dad if he thinks it is questionable. This Santa loves children and from his fruit I would say, loves the Lord.

    I know I am in the minority now with being a devoted follower of Christ and still loving Santa and I am okay with it. I have many friends who did not "do santa" with their young kids who often told their parents they wanted the "santa" that came to the Henderson's house.

    We have many traditions that revolve around Christ birth. We focus on His birthday and what a big deal that is...for God to send His son for us.

    This topic makes me think of the Jesus Story Book bible and how it is written as "The great rescue plan." This is a great developmentally appropriate way to tell the stories in the Bible. With a fairy tale twist in the writing.

    All of those stories are written for young minds. Santa is handed down in the same tradition.

    Now that my girls are older we read "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" each year and love it. It too tells the story in a way older children "get."

    Enough said, I just want to be a voice for Christians who do include santa in their Christmas and have found it to be a blessing and super fun too. Our Christmas mornings are magical and I wouldn't trade it because others take issue with it. Both my girls have trusted Christ at a very young age, and understand the difference between Christ and Santa.

    Way to long! Sorry!

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  10. Thanks for giving us that perspective Michelle. It's just what I wanted to hear along with those who might not "do Santa". I think there needs to be both sides presented from those who love the Lord. I appreciate all the details and how you've come to your position from lots of thought about the issue and not just "because I had it as a kid".

    I think you've given us something to think about!

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  11. Ladies,
    Fun to read everyone's positions on this. Michelle, I agree with you completely, and am glad you said it all really well, so I won't repeat it all.
    For us, it's a fun, developmentally appropriate way to share the season with our kids. It is absolutely not the main thing, but just one of our traditions. We love reading books during the holidays.
    Megan, I have a friend that does the book wrapping thing and I meant to do it every year, but just never got around to wrapping the books...way to go for getting that done!!!
    As far as "how" we do Santa...
    each kid is only allowed to ask for one thing and they have to get it approved by us first. Santa wants children to honor their parents and would never bring something that parents didn't approve of.
    On Christmas Eve we always attend a service at church and sometimes even come home and have a birthday cake for Jesus before we put out cookies out for Santa.
    They've never questioned us about it much...it's just how we do it. We don't wrap Santa stuff...just under the tree with stockings. We do that first thing, then eat breakfast and open other presents.
    Loved the discussion. Thanks to Megan for opening it up and to everyone else for commenting.
    Merry Christmas to all.

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  12. I got several words & a demonstration from the Lord regarding Santa and Christmas. Exodus 20-17: …You may worship no other god than me. You shall not make yourselves any idols…You must never bow or worship it in any way; for I, the Lord your God, am very possessive. I will not share your affection with any other god!” Have no doubt that Santa is a God to all children who believe in him. Why? Because they believe in him, they love him, they have faith in him, they rely on him, they long to see him, they long to receive gifts from him, they want to be good for him, their thoughts are on him, they want to make him happy, they want to be special to him, he holds a special place in the hearts of those who believe in him. He takes precedence over Jesus for children who believe in Jesus. No matter how hard we try as parents to separate the two. Only one is real and only one deserves our children’s hearts, thoughts and devotion. Why? All of us know that those things that are instantly gratifying are the most powerful. Santa is instantly gratifying w/ rewards and gifts for good girls and boys. God offers rewards but they are primarily delayed gratification. They are so far away and very inconceivable for us, let a lone a child who by design and developmental level can only see themselves. Not until age 11 can children even conceive anything on a concrete level. How can Jesus maintain a front seat in your child’s heart w/ all that Santa offers (lots of presents that they can see, open and enjoy right now). I assure you Santa wins your child’s heart. And we are born w/ sin in our hearts the pleasures the world offer are the most attractive and instantly gratifying. Thus, during Christmas, during Christ’s time, during God’s arrival in the flesh within the hearts of children who believe in Santa, Christ is lost in the background, he cannot compete for your child’s heart, it’s impossible if the child believes in Santa. Not to mention Santa is everywhere, everyone talks about Santa, TV shows Santa, Santa is the world’s god during Christmas. Children’s hearts are nothing like ours, they are wide open, accepting, trusting and when they believe in something, they believe w/ their entire heart and that which is instant, like gratification of consequences of any sort rule.

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  13. Part 2:
    Fantasy and imagination are gifts from the Lord we need to hold onto such things, right brained individuals maintain these qualities. While left brain individuals focus on logic and struggle to hold on to such wonderful brakes from reality. In all other fantasies and imaginative places we make certain our children know it’s just for fun, thus those princess dreams are wonderful, fun, and exciting, but our children don’t rely on it or allow those imaginations or thoughts to control their hearts. Imagination can be guided towards that which is holy. I experience a seminar regarding maintaining and holding on to a holy imagination. I experienced going to my happy place (the beach), I imagined Jesus w/ me, we walked and talked, we lounged together and smiled at each other. Some people experienced being in outer-space w/ Jesus, some imagined dancing in fields of flowers, some riding horses. As each person described their experience it was evident that thought that imagination the Holy Spirit/Jesus/God had become one with us there. Our hearts pounded, our breath was taken away, and we were over whelmed w/ Love and peace that only Jesus can provide. We were encourage to imagine as often as we like and to invite Jesus to be w/ us b/c He will meet you and do amazing things in your heart. Realistically, children dream about and imagine about animals’ approx 90% of the time till about age 7.


    Colossians 2:8:“Don’t let others spoil your faith and joy with their philosophies, their wrong and shallow answers built on men’s thought and ideas, instead of on what Christ has said. Are the values in your home based on human tradition and the basic principles of this world or on Christ? I know many people who where very injured b/c of the lie of Santa. I also know many who don’t remember or care. I believe that their heart remembers and doubt of all things unseen and magical is now what remains.
    Romans 12:2:”Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how his ways will really satisfy you.
    1 Corin 10:4: “You cannot drink from the cup at the Lord’s Table and at Satan’s table, too. You cannot eat bread at the Lord’s Table and at Satan’s table.
    2Corin 4:4: “Satan who is the god of the evil world…”
    This is why we are warned about things of this world, if they are not of God then there is only one other option.
    2 Corin 11:14-15:”…Satan can change himself into an angel of light, so it is no wonder his servants can do it too, and seem like godly ministers.”

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  14. Part 3:
    Santa seems so minor, no big deal, etc. I know... He’s fun, glamorous, exciting, magical, wonderful, generous, gracious, merciful, omnipotent, loving, caring, hope promoting, he has the devotion of the world around us, he’s so popular….so where are our children’s hearts? What are their hearts focused on? The child may believe in 2 friends, they know they both love them and both are there for them, but one is very popular, one leaves gifts every year if we are good, one we can watch and learn about on TV, Radio, he’s everywhere we look etc…. Can a child really choose Jesus as the one who rules his heart and thoughts, despite all Santa’s glory? That is so impossible for a kid, it’s impossible for us. It’s a daily struggle to think about Jesus once, or to take time to read his word. Jesus looses our hearts, our attention, our time so quickly, it’s so hard for us, how can a child possibly be able to reason through that and give their heart, love, and devotion to Jesus…they can not!

    Colossians 3:3:”You should have as little desire for this world as a dead person does. Your real live is in heaven w/ Christ & God.”
    Col 3:17:”And whatever you do or say, let it be a representation of the Lord Jesus…”
    Proverbs 13:20:”Be with wise men and become wise.” As a wise parent your objective is not simply to discuss, but to demonstrate the freshness and vitality of life lived in integrity toward God and your family. Parenting and shepherding the hearts of your children in the ways of God’s wisdom.
    Proverbs 4:23: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” The heart is a well from which all issues of life gush forth. This is a theme restated elsewhere in the Bible.
    Romans 14:7-9:”We are not our own bosses to live or die as we ourselves might choose. Living or dying we follow the Lord. Either way we are his. Christ died and rose again for this very purpose, so that he can be our Lord both while we live and when we die.”

    1 Corin 2:9-10, “…no mear man has ever seen, heard, or even imagined what wonderful things God has ready for those who love the Lord. But we know about those things b/c God has sent his Spirit to tell us, and his Spirit searches out and shows us all of God’s deepest secrets.”
    Here is the demonstration I mentioned in the beginning of this blog.
    Remember the story I shared about Caley asking about Santa, I said he was pretend and fun to pretend & Christmas was Jesus b-day and that why we celebrate. She was perfectly content w/ this answer. In fact she corrected all the adults that suggested she be good so Santa would come to her house. She said, Mommy says he’s pretend. They said ok. This morning she asked me again w/ the belief that he was real. “When is Santa coming to our house?’ I said remember, I told you he was pretend and just for fun. She said, “But Nanny said he was not pretend, he was real ”She began to cry and said, “Why isn’t he coming to our house.” I saw in my daughter a broken heart. She said she loved Santa, why wasn’t he coming. Just a few days of believing that Santa was real; w/ all that he has to offer, her heart was set on it. Santa had already stolen my babies heart, her belief, and her love. I knew then beyond a doubt that children are so trusting and give their hearts so quickly, freely, naively, that Santa was not ok. My babies heart is not up for the taking, it will belong to Jesus and Him alone! As long as I have control over what she believes, it can not be a fantasy. He will be the one who gets, her heart, her trust, her love, her belief and her devotion. I will live my life in a manner that shows he’s the only one who I believe in also. I had to explain to her the story of St. Nick, so she would know the truth about Santa’s origin.

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  15. Sorry, I wrote so much....this just seems to be a burden on my heart this year. I have struggled w/ the Santa idea, and the thought that it would be fun to leave cookies, notes, make noises on the roof to get the kids so excited. But the heart issues and knowing what God desires and demands of us won't allow me to do those things. I would have been much easier to let Caley believe that Santa was coming, then I wouldn't have seen the tears or broken heart. We just cant be certain what we are doing to the heart of children when they realize Santa is not real. Santa and God are so similar, their description is nearly identical. I just cant understand how kids can loose the belief in one, without damaging/loosing the belief in the other. Everything we say and do have impacts beyond our understanding not only w/in others but w/in our lives and environments, and future generations. Either it's a lie or its not, doesn't matter who we think we are protecting or helping...someone always gets hurt when the truth is revealed. I just can't bare the thought that it could be our children's ability to have a deep, close, & intimate relationship w/ our heavenly Father & Creator. He is the only truth, the only life and the only thing good in any of us. Take all thoughts, impressions, imaginations to him in prayer. We only have one chance before we stand before Him and all is revealed.

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  16. We can do all those fun imaginative things about Santa (cookies, notes etc.) w/out the belief in his reality.

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  17. Kyle (via Facebook post)December 11, 2009 at 11:20 PM

    I haven't read your blog, but we don't try to force our kids to believe in Santa. We go along with pretending, but as soon as they ask if Santa is real, I ask back, "what do you think?" We always get, "I don't really think he is." I always say back that," it is fun to pretend though isn't it?" We talk about Saint Nicholas and what a good person he ... See Morewas and how he was a Christian who tried to help others in need, and that's why we pretend about Santa some. Of course we don't go around talking about Santa all season and, how "Santa is watching you." I personally think that's just creepy, LOL!!! We talk about Jesus and how we can't hand him a gift on his bday, so that is why we give each other gifts to celebrate his birth. And we don't go crazy with the gift thing either!!! Santa is really just an after thought here. A fun afterthought, but an afterthought just the same. :)

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  18. Diane (via Facebook post)December 11, 2009 at 11:21 PM

    I agree with Marlina's comments on the blog (first post). We do the same thing with the tooth fairy. Emily and The Tooth Fairy email eachother at times to negotiate prices... But she also knows that the Tooth Fairy and Dad have the same email address!

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  19. Kara (via email message)December 11, 2009 at 11:23 PM

    We actually do the Santa thing with the kids but it's pretty watered down and altered. We have been very clear that Santa is not like Jesus. I tell them that he's a fun "story", they seem ok with that answer and have yet to ask is he "real"?? to which I would also reply, He's a fun story just like
    Cinderella or anything else. I sort of equate it to believing in the
    princesses when we see them at Disneyland etc. We don't play up visits at the mall or all the books about Santa. We also have made it clear that every good and perfect gift is from the Lord, so if we want something for Christmas we will pray and ask the Lord for it. My daughter sort of believes that
    Jesus loads up Santa's sleigh and the gifts are gifts from Him. They are!!!
    I grew up believing and was not scarred or confused by the difference between Santa and Jesus. With that said I only believed until I was about 7. My parents didn't go to great lengths to keep me believing and we certainly
    won't with our kids.....it's fun while it lasts. I think we probably have one maybe two more years with our oldest. She's already sniffing out the lack of truth in Santa on her own, but is seeing the Lord reveal Himself more with each day.....I guess we've decided to trust that the Lord will continue to
    reveal His truth throughout her life where as Santa will come and go, He can't compete!! :-)

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  20. Wow, Megan,
    You know how to stir a pot. Not suprisingly, I agree with my friends Randi and Michelle (who are both amazing women of God and mothers who I watch out of the corner of my eye to see how they handle things).

    God made children and blessed them with that magical thinking and imagination.

    Remember that different children are different and progress out of that stage at different ages. My oldest had it mostly figured out by 4 b/c Santa used wrapping paper that coordinated with some mom used. My sweet friend has one the believed (at 8?) even though she was with mom when she bought stocking stuffers.

    I'm in the minority in my circle. I think my children need to know and love Jesus from infancy but probably aren't ready to really KNOW him until they have matured to the stage where they can cognitively handle it (yes - I know it's a faith issue and God honors and desires child-like faith). I know for me figuring out on my own that Santa was just for fun and realizing my need for a Savior came about the same time. That said, Christmas at our house is about Christ and the spirit of giving and joy. Nuts and bolts - we don't usually go visit (mostly b/c dad and I dislike crowds) and loved ones give the cool presents (Santa brings candy, little goodies in the stocking and one small gift). For us, Christmas Eve is church, birthday cake for Jesus and family presents. Christmas morning is Santa (mostly anti-climatic but fun for my littles).

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  21. I suggest a book, a very awesome book about children, parenting and guiding your childs heart to Christ. Very interesting and eye opening about children and their developing relationship w/ Christ via Parents.

    Shepherding a Child's Heart
    by Tedd Tripp.

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  22. Whatever Christians decide to do regarding Christmas, their views should not be used as a club with which to beat down or denigrate those with opposing views, nor should either view be used as a badge of honor inducing pride over celebrating or not celebrating. As in all things, we seek wisdom from Him who gives it liberally to all who ask (James 1:5), and accept one another in Christian love and grace, regardless of our views on Christmas. (From gotquestions.org, Question of the Week, 12/18/09)

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  23. What an interesting discussion! You dont know me, I just sort of stumbled on to your blog, and have been thinking about the Santa issue. I think your last comment said it best--Whatever you decide, we should love our brothers and sisters and honor their freedom to celebrate Christmas and teach their children about Christ in the way the Spirit leads them--without pride in that decision.

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