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Our family welcomes you and thanks you for stopping by to visit. We are delighted you have taken a few minutes out of your day to spend with us. We are Joe and Jessica. We have two children and one very regal beagle! We post often and it usually includes details of our Christian faith; life here in the South; entertaining our family and friends; tales of our travels; as well as the daily adventures of having two children. Oh, and our passion for Alabama Crimson Tide Football!
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I would love your feedback on this one............

I have really thought a lot about how our world celebrates "Christmas". I have come to this conclusion.....................Nothing about it celebrates our Savior. We are trying to balance this world's celebration with our faith. It is difficult.

Take for instance Father Christmas; Kris Kringle; Pere Noel; ST. Nick; whatever your family calls him. I have had a few discussions about him and Christianity. For instance, isn't it dishonest to lie to our children? Don't they learn by what we do? Isn't a lie of any kind a sin? Doesn't God hate sin?
At the same time, how can I steal some of the most precious memories from my children? The heart pounding excitement of coming down the stairs long before the sun has wakened from her bed. Trying so hard to hear "the prancing" of tiny little hooves on the roof. Or the jingling of sleigh bells. What about running to the beautiful crystal platter that held fresh baked goods to see if they had been eaten. The Elf on the Shelf, the magic of "finding" him each morning and wondering what he saw each night on his way to the North Pole. The reindeer food made of oats and glitter to shine in the moonlight to help guide the sleigh. Dressing in Pajamas to ride on The Polar Express.

All of these are traditions from my childhood and a couple new ones that I have handed down to my children. Yet, I am conflicted. We have changed the way we look at the gifts.... Each child gets three(from us) just like Baby Jesus and then Father Christmas fills stockings only. This was an attempt to down play his role, but hold onto the magic. We look at it as though we are playing dress up or make believe with our children. Not as a deceit. Is it enough? This is what we decided was best for our family. We balance with traditions of our Faith.
Traditions of our Faith include: our Advent wreath (we light and pray around every Sunday during Advent); The Hanging of the greens at our church; The family workshop to make ornaments and the Advent wreath again with our church: Holy Communion every Sunday of Advent and CHRISTmas Eve; The children's play of the CHRISTmas story and then all of them carrying Baby Jesus to the manger on the front lawn of the church; Baking Jesus a birthday cake; special reading of The Nativity story and the Story of the Candy Cane by Joe on CHRISTmas Eve. Three gifts to represent the three Baby Jesus received.
I did some research and here is what I have about some of the most popular CHRISTmas decorations and traditions. Some I knew, some I learned, some I cannot wait to share. I am going to post about two today, the most common
CANDY CANE: Legend has it that in the 18th Century somewhere in Europe any public display of Christianity was forbidden. No crosses or Bibles were allowed and the Christians were greatly oppressed. One old man, a candy maker by profession, was particularly distressed by this. He loved the Lord with all of his heart and couldn't stand to not share that love with the world. His heart especially went out to the children when Christmas drew near and no one was allowed to have a nativity scene (or crèche`) on display in their homes. He prayed for God to show him some way to make Christmas gifts for the children which would teach them the story of Christ.
The answer was the candy cane. The candy cane was in the shape of a shepherd"s staff to show them Jesus is our Shepherd and we are His flock. A sheep follows his own shepherd, knows his voice, and trusts him and knows that he is totally safe with him. The sheep will follow no other shepherd but their own. This is how we are to be with Jesus if we truly follow Him ( John 10:11; Psalm 23:1; Isaiah 40:11) Upside down the candy cane was a "J", the first letter of Jesus' name. ( Luke 1:31) It was made of hard candy to remind us that Christ is the rock of our salvation. The wide red stripes on the candy cane were to represent the blood He shed on the cross for each one of us so that we can have eternal life through Him. He redeems us and cleanses us with His shed blood - the only thing that can wash away our sin. ( Luke 22:20) . The white stripes on a candy cane represented the virgin birth, sinless life and purity of our Lord. He is the only human being who ever lived on this earth who never committed a single sin. Even though He was tempted just as we are, He never sinned. ( I Peter: 22) The three narrow red stripes on candy canes symbolized that by His stripes, or wounds, we are healed and the Trinity - the Father, Son (Jesus) and Holy Spirit. Before the crucifixion Jesus was beaten; the crown of thorns was placed on His head; His back was raw from the whip. We are healed by those wounds. He bore our sorrows and by His stripes we are healed. ( Isaiah 53:3) The flavoring in the candy cane was peppermint, which is similar to hyssop. Hyssop is of the mint family and was used in Old Testament times for purification and sacrifice just as Jesus sacrificed His life for ours. ( John 19:29; Psalm 51:7) The old candy maker told them that when we break our candy cane it reminds us that Jesus' body was broken for us. When we have communion it is a reminder of what He did for us. ( I Cor. 11:24) If we share our candy cane and give some to someone else in love because we want to, it represents that same love of Jesus because He is to be shared with one another in love. ( I John 4:7,8) God gave Himself to us when He sent Jesus. He loved us so much He wants us to spend eternal life with Him... which we can do if we accept Jesus in our hearts as Savior and Lord. ( John 1:12; John 3:3,16) Some people believe this story of the candy cane is just a legend. Others believe it really happened. We do not know for sure exactly how the candy cane was invented, but there is one thing for certain... it is an excellent picture of Christ and His love for you.
CHRISTmas tree: Some have traced the Christmas tree back at least as far as the Prophet Jeremiah who wrote the book Jeremiah in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). Opposition to the Christmas tree was strong in past centuries. The early Christian Church in the third century strictly prohibited the decoration of their houses with evergreen boughs. The decorated Christmas tree only caught on in the mid-19th century. Modern-day opposition continues: some condemn the Christmas tree because they believe it to be a Christian symbol; others condemn it because they believe -- incorrectly -- that the custom of cutting down a tree, erecting it in the home and decorating it is a Pagan custom.
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season whose leaf does not wither. ~ Psalm 1: 1-3
The Tannenbaum is a symbol of peace and eternal life. A Christian Christmas Tree, represents the Cross on which hung the light of the world, who, when He died, completed His union in love with His church. The Cross reunited earth and sky, God and humanity in love. The lights of the tree represent Jesus, the light of the world; the ornaments represent us, the fruits - the offspring of the union between Jesus and His church. And thus did the Tannenbaum become the Christian Christmas tree.
The colors white and gold symbolize purity and Majesty of both the son of God and the son of man
I would love to hear your feedback on this one!


HEWY said...

We made an decision early on to tell them that Santa's helper brings the presents so we had a way out.

when it was discovered we told them that we were their santa helper because everyone was inspired by St. Nick to keep the tradition going and now that they know, they can be santa helpers too!

Bama Belle said...

That is a VERY VERY good idea!

Leigh said...

Hewy- I wish I had thought of that. I agree Jessica, I have had those very same thoughts. I have wondered...if my kids would compare Sannta to Christ and question. If Santa isnt real, is Christ? It has been a difficult balance. And like you, I put myself in the place of my kids, my history with Santa. I never questioned the validity of my faith and of the sacrifse of Christ.
My kids have asked, obviously my 18 year old know. I am certina that my 10 year old does, but chooses to keep quiet for fear of not beleiving not recieving. My youngest who is 8, I think this may be the last year. Sadly, I was a Beleiver til I was about 11! But times are differnt. Like you, I try and focus more on the real story of Christmas. And this year, most of the gifts will be coming from us, intead of Santa.

jennifer said...

What an awesome post!! Seriously, you tackled a hard issue and did it well. I like the idea of the three gifts and wish that I had started that with my kids.

I like what both Hewy and Leigh said. I don't think that I can add a thing. I wish that our Christmas was more Christ centered. It is to a degree but not enough. Never enough!