Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"Elf On The Shelf" Has More to Do With Jesus than Santa In Our home.

I hear things all the time from Christians about how bad and Sacrilegious Santa Claus is.  I don't think Santa is necessarily Sacrilegious, or against Jesus' birth, I just think some people focus on Santa too much.  When I grew up we 'did' Santa in our house.  Every Christmas morning, there would be an unopened gift from Santa and goodies in our stockings.  Then, we would walk over to our wooden nativity set and unwrap baby Jesus and sing Happy Birthday to him.  That's right, Jesus was wrapped as a present.  It may seem cliche, but as my Caroline tells me, isn't he the BEST gift of all?  I don't think I was screwed up because I believed in Santa.  I may be screwed up from other things, but Santa was definitely not the cause.  I also grew up in a Pastor's home and all of my favorite Christmas memories involved my family and our Savior. 

If you research the original St. Nick, you know that he secretly left things for the poor, or those who were in need.  What's wrong with that anyway?  We have always told our kids about the original St. Nick.  We also love watching Christmas movies like Elf or Miracle on 34th Street, or The Grinch.  Anyone knows that the Grinch is make-believe, just like Santa, but it's fun to watch on TV and there are good morals in the story.  People who let their kids watch Mickey Mouse but not watch Santa cartoons--well, I just don't understand the difference I guess. How is one make-believe character any different than another?  Now, before you get all angry and mad at me and start writing me hate mail, please know this is just my opinion.  Hear me out.

I don't think there is anything wrong with making Christmas cookies, surrounding our family with tinsel and twinkle lights, or opening presents. I do see something wrong with the way our "world" looks at Christmas, with the materialism, and "want want want", but that could be a post of it's own and frankly, that's not my point in this post. I've probably rambled enough already.  "Rachel, get back to the Elf Party"...

You see pictures of everyone else's "ELF" that they've named and post funny pics on Instagram or Facebook.  I saw a post on Pinterest the other day that was called "100 new elf on the shelf ideas".  Really? 100?  I'm not interested in getting our Elf out in September, but whatever floats your boat I guess.  

Tony and I have talked about "doing" Santa in our house, but doing Santa differently.  We got an Elf on the Shelf when Tobin was 4.  It was a gift, and Tobin named him Francis.  I thought he was cute, but I had always hated the way some families use Santa as bribery to make their kids behave.  I've had numerous conversations with other mom's, and even some of my family members, about the good and/or bad of doing Santa.  I believe that if we honor Jesus Christ, and make the Lord the center of our home and holiday memories, there is nothing wrong with a little "ELF" fun.  

The problem was, I searched all over the Internet for ideas on how to use the Elf, and still have our home centered on Christ.  I didn't find many.  I did find some good ideas, but they didn't fully incorporate what I longed for my kids and our Elf.  I liked the letter that Rachel over at http://followinginmyshoes.com/ , but it wasn't exactly what we wanted.  I used parts of her letter, and added some of our own family values.

I thought I would share with you the letter that came with Francis when he arrived this year:

"Dear Tobin and Caroline,
I hope you are having a wonderful Christmas season. Did you have fun decorating the Christmas tree?  

I thought we would do something a little bit different this year.  This time of year – this time we call “Christmas” – gets very busy and kind of crazy.  Everyone just focuses on “want, want, want.”  Have you been telling your Mommy and Daddy what you want for Christmas?  It’s OK to want a few things, but I’ve seen people – grown ups and kiddos – get very selfish with all the stuff they want.  They want so many things that they forget the whole reason we even have Christmas….
 Jesus – God’s son who was born a long, long, long time ago…
The very first “Christmas present” ever given to the whole big world. 

I don’t want you kiddos to forget about Jesus as you prepare for Christmas.  I want you to enjoy all the fun – hot chocolate, singing Christmas songs, making yummy goodies, watching fun movies, and presents – but I don’t want you to forget the most important present: God’s love for us and His son, Jesus.  I don’t want you to forget that it’s still important to love others … to be nice to other people … to help other people (even your Mommy, Daddy, and each other) … to show other people how wonderful Jesus is.

So, I’m here to help you kids (and your Mommy and Daddy) remember these important parts about Christmas: Jesus, God’s love and our job of joyfully sharing that love with others through our gifts, kind words and loving actions (the things we do for one another).
I’m going to hang out in all kinds of places in your home this year, and each day I will bring you a challenge, an activity to do together and an Advent Scripture (from the Bible) to help remind you to:
  • Love each other
  • Speak nicely to one another
  • Help each other
  • Help your friends and neighbors too
  • Give to people who don’t have all the stuff you have
  • Remember that God loves you kiddos so, so, so much.
I can’t wait to go through this Christmas Season with you and most of all, I can’t wait to Celebrate Jesus’ birthday with you soon!
Looking forward to seeing great things and wonderful love from each of you,

I enclosed an Advent Calendar with a "challenge" each day. I am using a calendar that I found here. Today's challenge was "I will secretly do a kind act for someone"  the family activity was to "play a board game together" and the verse was "Isaiah 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation."  I gathered these daily items from several sources. There are some really good ones here.  I also added a few of our own. If you google "Children's Advent" you will come up with thousands of ideas.  I want our children, our home, and our Elf to be focused on Jesus this year.

Now, what's wrong with that?  Well, I don't think anything is.  We will be counting the days till Christmas and celebrating our Savior's birth.  You may disagree with me, and that's okay.  This post is not to change your mind, or convince people what they are doing isn't right.  If you like bribing your kiddos with your Elf On The Shelf, or if you only do Jesus in your home, that's fine too.  I'm not here to judge you, or your traditions.   I just ask that you focus a little more on Jesus this year.  Celebrate HIM! 

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