Last week I was helping the Monkey with some of his homework. It was a speech about what winter holiday he celebrates with open-ended questions like “The winter holiday I celebrate is…” and “My favorite thing about this holiday is…”. He was supposed to answer the questions, draw a picture, and present it to the class. And like all Kindergarten homework, it required lots of parental assistance.
Our conversation went a little something like this:
mama: “Okay, Bud. So what is the winter holiday we celebrate?”
mama: “That’s right. And why do we celebrate Christmas?”
monkey: “To get presents!”
mama: “Not exactly. Yes you get presents, but that’s not why we celebrate. We celebrate Christmas because it’s somebody’s birthday. Do you know whose birthday it is on Christmas?”
mama: “Uh…no. Not Santa…” (waiting to hear the answer)
monkey: “Santa gives us presents!”
mama: “Well, yeah…if you’re a good boy. But it’s not his birthday and we don’t celebrate Christmas because of presents or Santa. Now think. Where do we go on Christmas Eve?”
monkey: (says nothing)
mama: “Church. We go to church on Christmas Eve to celebrate somebody’s birthday. Whose birthday do we celebrate at church on Christmas?”
Obviously my questions directed at helping him arrive at the correct answer were not working. We were headed into a bad religious version of “Who’s on First?”
mama: “Monkey, we celebrate Christmas because it was the day that Jesus was born. Jesus is the reason that we celebrate Christmas. That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.”
Now he was really confused.
He turned in his assignment and did a great job on his speech, but the whole Santa vs. Jesus misunderstanding has bothered me ever since. We are a family that goes to church every Sunday (okay, not every Sunday but pretty darn close.) I’ve read my boys stories about the First Christmas. We even have the Fisher Price Little People Nativity set. So where had I gone so wrong?
Looking around at my Christmas decorations, it dawned on me. There was a whole lot of Santa and not enough Jesus.
Isn’t that the way it is during the holiday season? Lots of presents. Lots of candy and cookies. Lots of lights and decorations. There are Santa suits for our dogs and snowman coffee mugs next to the Keurig. There are LEGO Advent calendars and homemade gingerbread houses. But the real reason for the season? Yeah, that poor guy was no where to be found.
So today I bought two of these.
Every Christmas morning we eat cinnamon rolls and drink chocolate milk after opening presents. And from now on we will be doing so using these plates. Just a little reminder who’s birthday it really is.
I’ll give you a hint: It’s not Santa’s.