The thirteenth birthday was quickly laid aside for my eighteenth and then my twenty-first. After that, birthdays came and went and I don’t remember many being “milestones!” The older I’ve gotten, the less I even consider birthdays because it’s a grim reminder life does not stand still and I’m aging quickly!
As I reflect on my life, I recall “growing pains.” They are those nasty little things we have to admit, own up to, or understand about life, that we’d really rather not! At age eight, I quickly realized I wasn’t “grown up” at all! I had barely begun. By thirteen I was in middle school and still didn’t know much about myself! I didn’t realize who I was or my potential. I was easily swayed by what someone told me, even if it was incorrect!
By the time I was eighteen, I was married and still had a lot of growing up to do! I was a wife and not long after my eighteenth birthday I had a child. My husband (eight years my senior) and I married between my junior and senior year of high school in early August; and I went back to school in September! We hadn’t planned on having children right away, but I found out I was pregnant in late October! I continued school (unheard of in the ‘70’s) as a pregnant wife, went to commencement in June and delivered our first born in July! And still I had growing up to do!
I was reasonably prepared to care for a little one, and with the help of parents, everything worked out fine. But even as a parent there are “growing pains!” I often teased our first born that she was our “experiment” baby. Let’s face it, new parents are often clueless! We tackled most things in a reasonably rational way, but there were times when we just didn’t know what to do!
As my bio indicates, we had five children. As our household continued to grow, there were still more growing pains. Part of this includes what we believed about Christmas. All our children grew up with Santa. So, when my oldest learned the truth, she was devastated. She could not see our rationale behind “the spirit of Santa Claus.” In her mind, there was only…. “they lied to me.” More growing pains.
This perspective made it really difficult for the younger ones, so we adjusted how we shared our “Santa beliefs.” We had always taught (even to our oldest) the “real reason” we celebrate Christmas. It’s fun to join in our human traditions, but it became necessary to attempt to make the younger ones understand Christ really is “the reason for the season,” in order to spare them “growing pains” that caused our oldest to be so sad and angry that we hadn’t been honest.
I have no problem saying I absolutely believe in “the spirit of Santa Claus,” which is the spirit of giving gifts and sharing. But that said, the Infant Child, born in a manger in Bethlehem so many years ago, is the greatest gift of all…… and that’s the “real Spirit of Christmas!”
So I encourage you to reflect on what's important, as you share your beliefs and traditions with the little ones. May they always trust your answers to their questions, with truth.