My five-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son recently told me they didn’t believe in Santa anymore. They were suspicious of the fact that the Santa they visited every year for photos looked very different from the Asian Santa who crashed their Christmas party last year.
Both sets of eyes stared intensely at me as they proclaimed their self-drawn conclusion, waiting for me to object and prove them wrong. Initially, the first reaction that crossed my mind was to prove them wrong—because Christmas brings magic and wonder! And Santa brings a lot of that magic and wonder!
Instead, I sat back in my chair and said, “You’re right. Santa isn’t real. And since you don’t believe in Santa anymore, what do you think Christmas is about?” I braced myself as I waited for their answer.
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For the past seven years, our family had come up with a fancy yet convoluted story of how Santa Claus and Jesus were intertwined. We told our kids that Santa was Jesus’ friend, and Jesus wanted to bless our family with special gifts in celebration of his birthday, which he had Santa and his reindeer deliver to our house on Christmas Eve. Whew! That was a mouthful.
But over time, the story became messier, and, by the end of last year, I was confused myself. So, in a way, I was relieved that I didn’t have to continue the fable anymore.
I watched as the kids pondered my question. Then they replied, “Simple. We believe in Jesus. That he was born on Christmas Day. And we’re celebrating his birthday!”
The fact that they started off their answer with the word simple has stuck with me since then. Our society has overcomplicated Christmas. We feel this unnecessary pressure to present our family in a well-decorated, festive light. We fill our schedules with all things Christmas, but, by the end of it all, we’re exhausted. Even finding the right picture to use in our family Christmas card can become a stressful task. The true meaning of the holiday easily gets taken over by the shopping, the hosting, and the decorating.
For me, being reminded of the true meaning of Christmas never gets old because I am easily caught up in the chaos. As Becky Kiser writes in Sacred Holidays: Less Chaos, More Jesus, the holidays have become an “imbalanced juxtaposition of chaos and whimsy.”
Christmas should be a season of simplicity because God’s love for us is so profound yet so simple. But the world tends to steer us toward overcomplicating the holiday, and we lose sight of what the real meaning of Christmas is.
If Jesus’ birth is the true reason we celebrate this time of year, maybe we don’t need to stress over the presentation of the dish we provide at the family dinner, or whether our ugly sweater one-ups all the ugly sweaters at the party, or taking full advantage of every Christmas-themed event, decoration, and sale. Maybe if we placed more of our focus on who is around our tree instead of what is under the tree, we would find ourselves feeling less stressed and more present.
Sometimes, in order to make room for the Holy Spirit during these seasons, we need to lessen the busyness and minimize our distractions.
As we wind down the year with the spirit of intention, I pray that we don’t lose sight of what this season is really all about. God wants us to experience Christmas—a season where we feel his abundant peace and joy—as we cling to the simple message of Jesus’ birth. He was born under the humblest circumstances, but this was all part of God’s perfect plan to give us hope and an everlasting life.
Kimberly Bass spent eight years working in HR for a couple small tech companies before turning in her notice a year after her son was born. She hasn’t looked back since! Kimberly is still a stay-at-home mom to this day and enjoys being there for her two kids before and after school.
Besides being the human command center in the Bass household, Kimberly sells handmade wreaths on the side as a small business and also leads Epic Legacy, a ministry that provides support for new college grads transitioning from school to the work world, with her husband, Joe. In her spare time (when she chooses to ditch her household chores), Kimberly enjoys reading, camping with her family, and running outdoors.