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Rite of passage: Christmas traditions

A quick question: What kind of music do you listen to the week before Christmas? Wrap music.

Enough of the Christmas puns. With our grandsons getting older, Christmas has taken on new life in the Moore home. Titus the Honorable is already anticipating presents, Christmas trees and family. Cohen the Goodhearted is just looking forward to ripping into something.

Having these young ones has sparked new interest in the Christmas season and especially in the figure called Santa Claus. We find him on every street corner, mall and television show. We can’t avoid the guy, but we need to guide our children into understanding his place in our home.

I grew up with the typical American Christmas where Santa Claus came to your house on Christmas Eve and brought the baby Jesus. Those of us raised in a Christian home got confused, just as we did when our parents took us to church to learn about the resurrection and then to the mall to get our picture taken with the Easter Bunny.

Most holidays contained two messages, the religious undertones mixed with the secular overtones. My family was very good at blending them together. But as we approach the celebration of our Savior’s birth, we need to make sure our children understand the real and primary meaning of Christmas.

I did some research on this person called Santa Claus. Currently, there are 78 people living in the United States with the name of S. Claus and only one person named Kris Kringle. If Santa had one Beanie Baby toy for every kid on the planet, his sled would weigh approximately 333,333 tons. (If you could get the Empire State building to put a toe on the scale, it would be close to this). To pull this much weight, you would need 214,206 reindeer… plus Rudolph. To make it to every house, Santa would have to travel 3,000 times the speed of sound and make 822.6 visits per second.

The only problem with that? A reindeer traveling at that speed would burst into flames. Of course, you don’t want Santa showing up at your house with his reindeer smoking.

Yes, I grew up with the tradition of hanging stockings and believing in Santa Claus, but I was also taught the most important thing about Christmas, and that was the virgin birth. When my oldest son, Jeremiah, was old enough to know the truth about Santa Claus, I took him to his room for one of those father and son talks.

I was trying so hard not to crush his sensitive belief system. I explained to him that Santa Claus was based on the person of Bishop Nicholas of Smyrna, who lived in the fourth century A.D. He was wealthy, generous and loving toward children. He often gave joy to poor children by throwing gifts through the windows of their homes, and that tradition was passed from generation to generation as something the father of the house would do.

Jeremiah’s eyes widened with excitement as I wove the tradition of Santa Claus. Reaching the climax of the story, I leaned over and whispered to him, “Jeremiah, when you grow up, get married and have children of your own, it will be your duty to play Santa Claus to your family.”

I could see his little brain pondering every word. I wanted to make sure he understood, so I told him, “On Christmas Eve, you will become Santa Claus to your children, filling their stockings and delivering their presents.” I asked if he understood or had any questions about this future responsibility. He thought about it for a moment, then leaned over to me and whispered, “What do I tell my wife?”

Our family has many Christmas traditions, such as getting to open one present on Christmas Eve. My wife has also started a new tradition of taking the grandkids to fill a Samaritan’s Purse shoebox for a child in need. And on Christmas morning, not one present is opened until we gather as a family and read the account of Jesus’ birth in Luke 2.

No matter what traditions you pass down to your children, make sure the true meaning of Christmas is front and center of what you do. Whether you attend a Christmas Eve candelight service, give a gift to a needy family or even have a nativity scene that you pass on to your children, make sure you are doing something today that will help them remember the true meaning of this holy holiday.

And if a smoking reindeer arrives on your roof, you should know it is one of the healthiest meats you can eat.

Walker Moore

Author: Walker Moore

View more articles by Walker Moore.

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