They're important to us.
And my husband and I take them very seriously.
I think (in my very personal opinion) the one thing most Christians take for granted is lying. God says lying is just as bad as killing! (please don't send me angry comments for saying this) And one of those lies is something that continues to be perpetuated with every generation... telling our children the lie of Santa.
image by Norman Rockwell
Not only would WE be sinning by telling a lie, but we would be teaching our CHILDREN to sin and we would be taking the focus of CHRISTmas away from CHRIST.
Why would we discipline our children for lying to us and then turn around and lie to them? It makes no sense, but Christian parents everywhere are doing it.
YES - we want our children to have the "Spirit of Christmas"... but not through a lie. We want them to rejoice in knowing that at that time of year God sent Christ into the world and made a way for all of us to receive eternal life. Doesn't that sound a little more magnanimous than getting presents from an old, overweight man?
If our children see a movie about Santa we take the time to explain to them (as many times as it takes) that he is a fictional character, just like other movies. That it is based on a real man but that he went to Heaven a long time ago. We give presents, but it is done to remember the gifts that were given to Christ.
For those interested, here is the origin of "Saint Nick" from http://www.stnicholascenter.org:
The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to the those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.
Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. The prisons were so full of bishops, priests, and deacons, there was no room for the real criminals—murderers, thieves and robbers. After his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church, where a unique relic, called manna, formed in his grave. This liquid substance, said to have healing powers, fostered the growth of devotion to Nicholas. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day, December 6th (December 19 on the Julian Calendar).There is also the story of the Christkind (or Kris Kringle) that comes from Martin Luther, which is celebrated in Eastern Europe.
I cannot help but look at both of these men - Bishop Nicholas and Martin Luther - and think that they would be gravely disappointed in us in knowing that their sacrifices and earthly works (meant to bring glory to God) are overshadowed by Jolly Old Saint Nick.
So please join me in overcoming myth to celebrate Christ. Let's put our children on a road to recovery and teach them what we would have them live by.