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Coming out of the Christmas Closet

A friend recently told me I needed to “get out of my own way and just go for it”, so here I am. Showing up and stringing some words together in hopes that others may find clarity through our experiences. No matter where your family falls on this issue, I challenge us all to trust our own discernment and crank down the volume of the world.

Last year, Ross and I felt a strong pull to be honest with our kids about the “magic” of Christmas. I know, I know. "You’ll ruin Christmas! .. They will resent you for that!.." Trust me, we heard it all. In our own minds and then from the minds others. While our convictions were crystal clear, we were terrified: terrified of judgement from others, terrified that our kids may desperately want to "unknow" it, terrified that the kids would share the information to other children even though they were given stern instruction not to.. The list goes on.

Casting aside all commentary, we chose to practice obedience. It was important to us. It was time to stop letting our favorite time of year be hijacked by the overwhelming stress. It was time to stop keeping up with a big lie, all while preaching to tell the truth. It was time to stop using "Santa's watching!" as an excuse to get lazy with our parenting for a season. It was time to stop competing for who could spoil their kids more as they are crippled by credit card debt. The biggest reason though- it was time to give Christmas back to our savior.

The kids took it surprisingly well.. then came the questions. ALL the questions. I definitely recommend being more prepared for those than we were. As Vaida (6) worked through it in her little mind, she said "Okay, so Santa isn't real. What about the Tooth Fairy? Easter Bunny? leprechauns? the elvessssss?" Ross and I communicated primarily by facial expressions, since somehow we hadn't considered that we would be opening pandoras box. They stared at us, clearly expecting an immediate answer, so we spilled it all. We slowly stripped down all the lies and apologized for misleading them for years. Then took the opportunity to remind them of the history of each holiday and the real reasons we celebrate. In that moment, they started to realize what this meant for parents. What it meant for grandparents. The extent we all go through to maintain that illusion.

Coming up on this Christmas season, we have noticed a shift in their attitude. We still do lights and gifts, but I will tell you this - their lists are shorter. They are grateful for each one they get, knowing it wasn't "free". When the kids are asked, "Are you excited about Santa?", they still politely go along with it. But then, they turn to us with a sweetest grin and a wink. As it turns out, children appreciate honesty as much as we do.

Then the grinch thought of something he hadn’t before, “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”


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