I mean, as a Christian, the premise of the holiday was about the birth of Jesus Christ, right? The God of the Universe, deciding of His own free will to give up the glory and awesomeness of Heaven to come "slum it" as a human for 33 years. The end result? His torture and death--in probably the worst way imaginable. Just a little over 3 decades later, He would be hung on a cross and allowed to suffocate over the course of a day. All the while, knowing that He was doing all of this for me, you, and every other person throughout the course of human history.
So, knowing God's overall game strategy, Christmas was a really frustrating time of year for me in the past. It would literally make my heart sad to know that somehow Santa Clause and his little flying reindeer had somehow taken center stage over the Lord of the Universe. Frosty and company, too.
I have to admit, there was a part of me that really wanted to be Jewish. I mean, Hanukkah, now that's a holiday and tradition I could really get behind. It was reverent, unapologetic, and totally focused on God and His amazing power. You didn't hear about drunk Jews beating each other over the heads with Menorahs, or screaming obscenities at fellow drivers at the local mall. It just didn't happen.
Well, as irony would have it, my feelings about Christmas quickly began to change right about the time I had kids. It has been an evolution, of sorts, but the past 10 years has changed me and my heart. No, I still don't erect an inflatable Santa in the front yard. Nor do I engage the "crazy people" at the mall (it's always best not to feed the wild animals). However, with the help of my amazingly patient husband, I have managed to navigate the Christmas season in my own way--trying really hard not to ruin it for my kids.
Spoiler Alert: read on at your own risk!!!
Okay, I do feel that I need to offer some sort of a public apology here to all those kids (and parents) that had the misfortune of hearing my precious little 4 year old announce from the stage of our church's Christmas Eve service in 2007 that "there's no such thing as Santa Clause". Yep, that was my kid. I'm that parent. You know the one? The one that just has to ruin it for everyone. I really am sorry. I never meant to cause you or your kid irreparable harm in the process of teaching my kids the true meaning of Christmas.
End of spoiler. . . you may commence reading:
With that in mind, our family has formed a number of "traditions" during this time of the year. Some are focused on the more somber and religious aspects of the holiday and the faith that is represented by the significance surrounding it. Others are just fun, little quirky things that we have had a good time doing together as a family. Over the next few days, I'm going to post my "Top 8 Anderson Family Christmas Traditions". Now, you may ask yourself "Why 8? Why not 12? 12 would be so much more catchy." Well, I will tell you: it's because I couldn't think of 12, okay? Seriously! As I told you before, this is a work in progress--my transformation on Christmas. You should merely consider it a Christmas miracle that I was able to even come up with 8!
Anyway, I hope they entertain, enlighten, and perhaps even inspire you to create some traditions of your own. However, I hope that at the center of your celebration you always remember the reason for the season!
Also, if your kids happen to have the misfortune of spending any amount of time with my kids during the month of December, you have my permission to just tell your kids that the Anderson children were dropped on their heads when they were younger, and not to believe everything they tell you.
So, may you and your family have a Happy Hanukkah, and/or MERRY CHRISTMAS--your choice!!!
(No, Kwanzaa does not get an endorsement in this blog. Feel free to send me hate mail, because, quite frankly, until the creators of Kwanzaa/Kwanza/Quanza finally figure out how to properly spell their holiday, I don't really care!)
Oh, and before all of you "historians" start giving me a lesson on the proper spelling of Hanukkah, I know already! "Chanukah" is difficult to translate from Hebrew, so for folks speaking English (or, Texan, as most of my readers probably are) Hanukkah is more universally accepted spelling for this holiday in America.