Faith Holidays Parenting

3 Gifts

Edda Marie: Tokyo Christmas

Growing up our house was all about Santa at Christmas.

And it was magical. Truly.

We did go to Mass on Christmas Eve, and we always had a beautiful nativity. Jesus was talked about, and we understood He was the “Reason for the Season.” But man, I loved all the magical Christmas gifts from Santa!!

Everything was so magical.

And I’m not talking, app creating, phone number calling magic like we have now. I’m talking magic that was so beautifully created by my parents.

One year my Dad took rocks and made sled marks in the street where Santa’s sleigh had landed. This was amazing to me.

And we were late Believers, and I’m pretty sure my older brother believed longer than I did. And that is testament to the power of their Christmas magic.

Under the tree every tag was marked with a magical Santa tag. The writing was so beautiful …just like my Mom’s.

When Derek and I spent our first Christmas together as a family in Australia, I was excited to mark all the gifts. I was writing: To Landon, From Santa. It was magical.

He stopped me.

In his comical way he said, “I’m not giving all the credit to an imaginary fat man.” I laugh now, every time I think about it.

I fought him on the idea because every gift was supposed to come from Santa, that’s always how it was in my house.

Times have changed.

And I am grateful. The figure that is important in our house isn’t Santa, it’s Jesus.

Our children know the story of St. Nicholas, the real Saint Nicholas. And we do give a gift and a book from Saint Nick still.

But it’s not the biggest, and it’s never what is on the top of their wish list. Those come from us. And we work hard to provide those special requests for them, within reason.

But every year I feel like we step further outside the Santa world. We step deeper into true celebration of Christmas, focusing on the birth of our Lord and Savior. Jesus.

This year, I vow to keep it easy, simple and focused on the true gift of Christmas. And I’m excited. We have told our children that this year they will receive 3 gifts from us.

3 Gifts.

A Want.

A Need.

A Read.

When there was protest, because there was, I reminded them that Jesus received three gifts for his birthday. The baby who came to save the world, to save us, from sin, who deserves everything. That baby received three gifts. Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.

(Interesting how all three of those gifts are now common household items. Thanks Essential Oils! Ha!)

They were also reminded that many families don’t receive any physical presents under their tree. How wonderful it is that we could give three to each of them!

I was surprised at the agreement that followed.

No, really, I was expecting more push back.

But I started to see it register with Landon. God has really been working in his heart this year, and his response was one of maturation. I was grateful to bypass the “normal teenage response”.

“Yeah. You’re right.” Simple, but so affirming. Sometimes the lack of push back from kids is a true Christmas miracle. 😉

I started to notice a few things after sharing the shift in their receiving on Christmas.

They became much more intentional about their “wants”.

It’s good to dream, so I gave Adeline a Lakeshore Learning catalog to go through and pick out her “Want” gift. She circled everything. Which I saw as she would be happy with anything, and she would.

But then I said to her. “If you could have only one, which one would you choose?” Still getting used to the idea, she confirmed, “Only one?”

::she paused::

“It’s not in there… I want a camera that prints the pictures right away.”

“So you would be happy not getting anything from in here?”

“Uh huh. I mean, I really like that science kit, and the fort, but I only want a camera that prints out pictures right away.”

There is was. For a five-year-old, this is good. And surprising to me, but good.

Their focus shifted.

It’s amazing how every time we refocus our lens toward the Lord, He reveals something even more beautiful.

The focus shifted away from receiving and more toward gifting.

Yesterday in Target Adeline and I were shopping for three “Angel Children.” Three children our family is donating to for Christmas.

I explained to her that we were giving them a gift for Christmas because their families weren’t able to this year.

Wheels turning she asked, “Are we giving them a Read, Need and Want, Mama? All three?! Can we?!!”

Her little-big heart. She wants to give. All the gifts. I wish we could, give all the gifts. But the organization asked for only one, a “Want.”

So in addition to giving, we pray. We pray for the best gift to be received by these little ones. Christ.

Christmas wasn’t always magical.

My parents separated the day after Christmas, and the holiday was very hard, for a long time.

But by setting my eyes on Christ, especially these last few years, it’s shifted again. Back to beautiful. Back to magical.

And now, my love for Christmas is even stronger than when I was a child. It feels more magical and special. Less about things and more about moments where we get to be together as a family and glorify God.

It is very much my favorite time of the year.

Worship music playing on the radio.

Gathering with family and friends.

Advent Bible studies that take us from how sin broke our world, to how God will redeem us with a child. His child.

Does that magnificent plan get lost in the “holiday magic” for you?

My hope is that my kids grow up to understand the true magic of Christmas, the true gift of Christmas. That I can create these traditions that point back to the real reason for Christmas.

Because Santa will fade away. He will shift from a mystical, magical person into a fun tradition. And what will be the focus of Christmas then? The gifts or the Greatest Gift?

“The true light, that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:9-18

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