Is it really that important?


#1

I know I’ve posted enough about Advent/Christmas stuff thus far, but I’ve really been struggling with this and want to talk to my husband about it, but I’m not sure if I’m overreacting and should just get a grip or if there’s an alternative. So, here’s my dilemma:

A couple days ago we got out our Christmas stuff. This is our first Christmas together. We have a box from him, a box from me, and a box that my grandmother gave me. No problem. We have all typical Christmas stuff. However, if you’ve read my previous posts, we don’t plan to raise our children believing in Santa. My husband has LOTS of Santa ornaments. That is not a problem. However, he got out his Advent calendar and I was really disappointed. His mother made it, so it’s not like I can just get rid of it and throw it in the garbage. It’s a Christmas tree and each day you pick an ornament to go on the tree. There’s NOTHING religious about it whatsoever. I grew up with Advent being Advent - a time of reflection and constant rememberence that Christmas was Jesus’ birthday. Our Advent calendars were always homemade but disposable, using previous years’ Christmas cards and such that had Jesus and the Holy Family and angels on them.

So, should I talk to my husband about this? Am I overreacting? (I am pregnant! :slight_smile: ) I’d like to hear from those who aren’t raising their children with Santa and those who are. I know it’s a few years away yet before children have a role in this, but I don’t like this calendar. It’s cute, yes, but it’s not what Advent is about, nor should be the focus, even if you do raise your children with Santa. :slight_smile: Thanks so much!


#2

The Christmas Tree is just a decoration for Christ’s birthday party!
Use it as such… talk about it as such… and it will blend right in with your goals…

HTH!


#3

Could you make it a tradition to read from a book with reflections related to Advent every day when putting up the ornament on the tree? We had a tree that was our Advent calendar and there were little pockets holding a little paper with reading for the day and an ornament (although the ornaments were related to the readings). Adding a new ornament to a bare tree (and gradually filling it up) can show how we need to be preparing throughout Advent for Christmas day, when the tree is fully decorated :slight_smile: (and we should strive to have our souls in tip top shape too )

I really wouldn’t make a deal of not wanting to use it, especially if it is dear to him since his mom made it.


#4

My suggestion? Don’t chuck it, add to it. Add a reading for each ornament you put on, or add a Jesse tree symbol to each ornament with it’s explanatory meaning, etc. That’s kind of how we got a lot of our Christmas traditions to begin with. We took a lot of customs people already had, tweaked them a little, and gave them a Christian meaning.


#5

I think you are overreacting on this and the Santa thing, too. :slight_smile:

God is not limited by religious symbols. I don’t know why people seem to think that something as harmless as Santa Claus matters so much!

When you read the Psalms, are they restricted to talking about God’s attributes only? Or do they tell us that “the heavens declare the glory of God,” that “all creation sings his praise,” and other such phrases that say that EVERYTHING is a gift from God, not just those that are overtly religious.

I think people have to broaden their views because we need to see the glory and beauty of God in ALL THINGS, not just in those that immediately bring God to mind. Not doing so leads to religiosity, which can all too readily calcify into rigidity and Pharisitical attitudes.

Christmas trees represent death and rebirth, not just winter. Santa is the personification of joy and generosity, not just a “jolly old elf.” And even if he was just a jolly old elf, what’s wrong with elves? Tolkien would say, “Nothing!”

It’s all in how we choose to see things, not the things themselves that are important. And Catholics are not fundamentalists who have to negate all the fun and merriment of Christmas for the sake of RC (Religious Correctness).

End of Christmas rant. MERRY Christmas to all! :smiley:


#6

To the OP: I have no idea how big the advent calendar tree is or if it has ornaments that come with it so I don’t know if this idea would work or not. But what lifeisbeautiful seems to be describing is a Jesse Tree. Usually a Jesse tree is more a branch than a tree but you could an evergreen tree for it. I suggest you google ‘jesse tree’ and see if you can find ways to use this calendar tree from his old family and make it special for your new family.


#7

Thanks so much for your suggestions! I think I will try to add a reading to it, or maybe replace the ornaments slowly with religious ones. The Advent calendar itself is made of felt and have velcro ornaments that attach to it. It’s a beautiful Advent calendar, but it’s just that I was afraid the focus for future children would be “presents and the greedy-gimmies” if I wasn’t careful and the only focus besides the Advent wreath was this calendar. I know my pregnancy hormones DO get out of whack often, so I didn’t want to bring up something that could potentially hurt my husband if it wasn’t necessary.

Also, maybe a Jesse tree could be something in addition. I made paper ornaments for one when I was in grade school which have since been discarded due to the fact that they were paper. That way the focus is still on the right thing, and the Advent calendar will only add to all of it :).

To Della - I appreciate your concern, but this is our decision. I’m not against Santa, I just am choosing not to follow in that tradition. I enjoyed Christmas just as much as the next person who did believe in him and so this is what we decided to do. :slight_smile:


#8

Lol, I never knew it had a name.

Lotusblossom, the one we had growing up was felt with velcro ornaments too. Just like I don’t think a regular tree takes away from Christmas, I don’t think an Advent one will, if done with the right focus :slight_smile: My Christmas tree ornaments are for the most part not religious per se, anyways. If it were my husband and he was very fond of the Advent tree, I wouldn’t even change the ornaments. The readings do not have to be related to the ornaments, nor the traditional Jesse tree readings, but can be from a Catholic source. Just an idea. I am planning on making something like that for when my kids are older too. :slight_smile:


#9

Don’t call him Santa, call him St. Nicholas. We tell the girls the story of St. Nicholas on his feast day (Dec 6). And then your not lying about a fictitiuos character being real, St. Nicholas was a real person! At out house each child gets one present from St. Nick.

We have a nativity advent calender & light the advent wreath before dinner every Sunday during advent.

We talk alot about Jesus and that Christmas is His birthday. My oldest (7) has noticed the difference between the secular santa and the St. Nick we talk about in our house. She seems to prefer the story of the true St. Nicholas and will watch TV shows like Santa Claus is coming to Town but points out all the wrong things (like that St. Nicholas was a bishop and was not married :slight_smile: ).


#10

Thanks! That’s how I was raised and how we plan on raising our children :). I love the story of St. Nick!


#11

Hi, welcome to married life.
For many years Dh and I would each try to replicate our own individual Christmas from our childhood, each being quite different. We would always end up arguing about whose was the “right” way. Over the years though we have relaxed a bit, and created our “own” Christmas, taking bits from each.
The most important thing is that the message of Christ’s birth is not lost.


#12

i don’t know what kind of ornaments you have for the advent tree, but perhaps if they are different colors, the colors would represent a different aspect pertaining to Jesus/God, Mary, angels, etc.

This is what we did when decorating our tree this year, and I am amazed at the ideas my 6yo dd came up with.

Pink = love
Silver = angels
Blue = Mary
Green = life
White = ressurection

These are all things she came up with. I am so proud :smiley: .


#13

I thought I heard once that the Christmas tree really is meant to be a Christian symbol. Like Halloween and Easter, there are pagan roots as well as Christian roots to the celebration, but I do remember reading a story about Martin Luther gazing at the night sky on Christmas eve and noticing how the stars shone through the tree branches. Inspired, he cut the tree down, brought it inside his home and decorated it with candles. Don’t know if it’s true or not, and I’m sure there’s a Catholic story or two out there somewhere too. There are so many legends, we can pretty much take the liberty to believe whatever we want about it, and we can most definitely teach our children whatever we want about it.

We actually put up our tree at the beginning of Advent, but we decorate it with Advent stuff, like purple flowers, purple and pink ribbons, an angel in a purple gown at the top that carries a scroll that reads “Come Emmanuel” (there was one at Michael’s last year–I just changed the writing on the scroll to make it more Advent-ish), and each day of Advent when we light the Advent wreath we find the ornament designated for that day and put it on the tree. They are just laminated cards with appropriate scripture verses on them. You could also do Jesse-tree ornaments on the tree itself instead of in a separate place. We do not light the lights on the tree until Christmas Eve. So there is a gradual building up and anticipation of Christmas reflected in the tree. Then on Christmas eve we take all the Advent stuff down and put the Christmas ornaments on and, like I said, light the tree for the first time. (Remember that on Christmas Eve, the “Light of the World” comes into our midst—the Holy Father’s homily was about this last Christmas). I also have a tree skirt that I made because I couldn’t find what I wanted anywhere. It is purple burlap on one side and metallic shiny gold on the other.

I forbid the playing of Christmas music in our house during Advent (I actually hid our CD’s) but my husband listens to Christmas music in the car because there is a radio station in our area that plays Christmas music all day starting on the day after Thanksgiving, and since some of the music is actually religious, my husband feels strongly that he should support them by listening. I do try to get the family out to some Christmas concerts and/or Lessons and Carols type concerts because Advent is, after all, a time of joyful expectation and anticipation. It does not have the same flavor as Lent and is therefore naturally a little more celebratory than Lent. But I try to keep the celebratory attitude out of our daily life during Advent and keep it more anticipatory and preparatory so when Christmas comes, it really is joyful and celebratory and not tiresome (as it used to be when I was a kid). Let’s face it, after listening to Joy to the World umteem times during Advent, who wants to hear it again on Christmas Day, or even throughout the Christmas season? I see far too many Christmas trees out on the curb on the day after Christmas and during the octave. By the time it actually gets here, people are tired of celebrating it. Better to wait and really relish it at the proper time, I think.


#14

We use these stories with our Advent Calendars.

catholic.org/clife/advent/index.php?id=4

It was a nice compromise to put religion into a secular (also a Christmas Tree like yours) calendar.

God bless,

Trish

P.S. I don’t think you’re going overboard at all. We had, in the past, put up all decorations the day before Thanksgiving and kind of by-passed Advent. This year, we’ll have a Jesse Tree, an Advent Wreath and a manger with no Baby Jesus yet. The rest won’t be going up until we have celebrated the Advent first. I’m really excited!!! :smiley:


#15

That Advent calendar sounds pretty good to me. After all, the tree isn’t “finished” until Advent is over. Isn’t that the whole idea?

Your baby isn’t born yet so I don’t think he or she will be emotionally scarred by this. Next year, when the baby will be around, start some new traditions with the baby in mind. By the time the baby is able to grasp the concepts of Advent or Christmas, you will have probably banished all sign of Christmas to the attic and can have a Christmas-free Advent. In the meantime, let your husband enjoy a little bit of his memories while you are working together to build new ones.

And yes, you are over-reacting, even for a pregnant woman. :slight_smile:


#16

I respect the desire to raise your child without Santa and the traditional Christmas. That’s awesome. I wish you the best of it.

That being said, children do not become selfish and greedy because they believe in Santa. That’s just stupid. Children become selfish and greedy because those are the values their parents model, no more and no less.

I love Christmas. :slight_smile: I love everything about it. I love the decorations. I love the songs. I love wrapping special gifts for people that I care about. I love making all the wonderful goodies that taste like heaven. It is truly the most wonderful time of the year.

My kids are kind, compassionate, generous, selfless Christians, even though they were raised to believe in Santa Claus. They definitely aren’t greedy. They know that the magic of Christmas is in the giving, not receiving. They will help make food baskets for the poor and gather blankets for the homeless. They will play Christmas carols on the piano at the convalescent hospital and bake cookies for our neighbors. They will also craft special ornaments to exchange at our annual Open House. Everyone brings a wrapped ornament and takes one home. No gifts allowed. There are too many people to buy for. Yeesh.

But early Christmas morning the boys will creep into the living room to peek at their stockings and then sort out all of the packages. The elves are not very organized. When they are done they will wake us up so that we can open our gifts. They wait patiently while their daddy lights a fire and then puts the kettle on for me. My oldest passes out the presents, one by one. We open them by turn so that we can share in the joy that others receive. Then we will go to breakfast and come home to sleep. After midnight Mass and an early morning wake up, hubby and I are tired. The boys will spend the next few hours playing with their new board games. These traditions reflect the ones that hubby and I celebrated as kids. We shared them with our kids because they brought us happiness.

Whether your St. Nicholas wears a robe or a red suit, it isn’t just presents that he carries in his bag. He also brings love, charity and compassion. He teaches us how to give so that we might receive.

Children, raised with the spirit of Christmas, will one day ask why Santa makes so many toys for all the children in the world. Then you can tell them that making toys is what he does best. God gives us talents so that we might share them with others. By giving his gifts freely, Santa is being obedient to God. They will know that Santa lives in the hearts of every person who gifts the world with their time, talent and treasure. They hide behind the Santa facade so that only God will know their true identity.

If you have raised them right, they will want to be like Santa, who is generous and obedient to God. Afterall, anyone can make a donation to charity or help the poor. If you have been poor, you know how demeaning this can feel. Dear Santa doesn’t write a check. He takes the time to hand deliver his special gift and he makes the recipient feel loved in the process.

I’ll keep my Christmas. We’ll keep Advent, too. To those who think that the secular interferes with the religious, I say that God loves children and children love Christmas. Early Christians did not mock the traditions of others, they embraced them. They gave them a new meaning according to our faith. They used pagan history to bring people close to God. Imagine that. :slight_smile:

As for your DH advent calendar, use it, change it or dispose of it as you please. Just remember that you reap what you sow. Your MIL made that calendar with as much love as you feel right now for the child you carry, if not more. The gift wasn’t just the calendar, it was the memories that go with it. However you use it, know that one day your child might marry someone who doesn’t embrace Advent the way you do. We like to think we can control things like that but God’s plan doesn’t always follow our plan. Expect that your child by marriage will treat your traditions and the beautiful things you will make the same way you now treat your MIL’s. Then go as you mean to proceed.

May the peace and love of the Christmas season fill your heart with joy that you can’t help but share with others.

and Happy Advent, too. :thumbsup:


#17

if you had Charlie Brown ornaments, or Wizard of Oz ornaments or Disney ornaments, you would present them as decorations based on fictional characters. Why would Santa be any different?

So this particular advent calendar and ornaments are not religious. so what. every single custom in every family does not need to be overtly religious.
add some religious ornaments from your own collection, or gradually add to your collection over the years and choose religious ornaments.
buy inexpensive cardboard advent calendars with religious themes for your children
make a tradition of reading the Christmas story from the children’s bible
make a jesse tree, make the symbols relating to the OT stories and hang them as ornaments, save the Christmas tree to much later in Advent (there is a thread active that has great links for this)

also stress the story of the Saint, not the secular figure, why Nicholas is a saint and patron of children, and get a good statue of the Saint, which is in leaflet missal and other good Catholic gift catalogs

there is absolutely nothing to be gained early in marriage by one spouse even giving the appearance of criticizing the customs of the other spouse’s family, and quite a lot to lose. the beauty of being a new family is you can make your own customs, but that does not mean to jettison everything that comes from your own family traditions and childhood memories.


#18

Thank you all for your replies. I think I’ve gotten my answer and will start with reading the meditations with using the Advent calendar. The reason I posted this is because I didn’t want to throw out something that so much love was put into. I realize that it’s not so much about the secular, but the attitude put towards it too. I guess that’s why I asked for ideas.

Please don’t try to make me see that there’s no “evil” in believing in Santa. I don’t think I ever said there was any evil and even said that I have no problem with others doing it (if I saw it as evil, I would care about others raising their children that way). This is our personal choice, and I understand it’s the attitude and intention in raising your children either way that is important. I realize I was overreacting and that it’s really not that important. So, thanks for the suggestions :).


#19

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