Last weekend, we told Sam that we were going to visit Santa Claus just like we have done since his first Christmas two years ago. We really haven’t had much conversation with him specifically about Santa’s story, what he does, who he is, etc., so I was pretty curious to hear (in his somewhat limited) own words what he thought.
“Sam,” I said. “What are you going to say to Santa when you see him?”
“Happy Birfday, Santa!” he responded.
Adorable? Absolutely! Troubling to my extremely catholic in-laws? I’m sure.
The thing is, I’m totally confused about what to tell my kid about Christmas. My husband and I don’t presently subscribe to any particular faith. He refers to himself as a “recovering catholic” and I grew up protestant, entertained the notion of paganism for all of 30 seconds, and have considered myself agnostic at best for most of my adult life. I am spiritual and respectful, and I totally love Pope Francis but big religion kinda makes me nervous.
So now I have a child with an ever-growing hunger to learn about the world around him and I’m totally not sure what to tell him. And it’s not just the religious stuff. I feel a tiny twinge of guilt every time I find myself talking about Santa. Aren’t I supposed to be marveling at the wonderment and enthusiasm that only a young child can bring to the season, instead of worrying about how I’m going to explain myself?
Then it dawned on me that maybe that’s the key: Isn’t Sam as much the “reason for the season” as all of the other stories? Doesn’t his innocent excitement exemplify the true spirit of the holiday?
I’d love to hear from those of you out there–parents or otherwise; faithful or otherwise. What is the TRUE meaning of Christmas to you, and how best do you share or show that meaning with others?