December 18, 2010

The Symbols of CHRISTmas

This year we've been working to emphasize to our 4 littlies the gift of Christ in our lives during the Christmas season, instead of focusing on being good so Santa will bring presents. Still, Santa's name has been popping up more than I would wish. One night as I was getting into bed I had an idea that I quickly wrote down. We used it as our lesson for Family Home Evening last night and it went over really well!

First, I held up a picture of a door I drew on a piece of paper. This door was covering a picture behind it.  I said, "Pretty soon we might have a special guest visit our house. You never know! I'm going to give some clues that describe this person and you guess who it is." The clues included:

  • he sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake. He knows if you've been bad or good.
  • he has a beard and a kind face
  • he spent his life giving to others
  • he's often pictured in red and/or white clothes
  • he loves little children
  • he gives the very best gifts
  • you can never see him, but you can feel him
  • he gives us a wonderful, special warm feeling
  • he can get into our homes even if the doors are locked
  • he has special, wonderful powers
  • we want to give gifts back to him, but he doesn't need anything we could buy; he just wants us to give to other people. (My kids have been talking about giving a present to Santa.)
  • I ended with, "He encourages us to be good so we will be ready when he comes."


The kids all excitedly shouted "Santa!" Then I had the youngest come and open the door to welcome our guest into our home.

ArtBook__065_065__JesusAtTheDoor_Sm___

We used this image from the Gospel Art Book. (You could use any number of pictures, including Christ in a Red Robe, The Second Coming, Christ and Children Around the World, etc. I just made sure he was wearing red and white.)

The kids all gasped in amazement that I was actually describing Jesus - there are so many similarities! We discussed how each description applied to both Jesus and Santa, and then we talked about how Santa is actually a symbol for Jesus, and everything we love about Santa is really everything we love about Jesus. We can be reminded of Jesus through many different symbols during the Christmas season, and we mentioned a few - candy canes, giving gifts, stars on the tree, etc.

We looked at a few more pictures of Jesus and even a picture of Santa kneeling at the manger to discuss how Jesus is the greatest gift. It was a very enjoyable and memorable lesson. Now the youngest keeps wanting to open the door and let Jesus in - and we let him!

About-Our-Guest-WriterTami Greene is a homeschooling mom of 4, a wife, a BYU grad, a former journalist, a Canadian, a reader, a learning enthusiast, a lover of all things baby. She can't believe she is blogging instead of finishing her numerous Christmas sewing projects :)

44 comments - Add a comment below -:

Raven said...

Lovely idea, Tami! I love the idea of showing how Santa is actually a symbol for Christ. Do your littles not believe in Santa then? Just wondering how that works in your home. Or do they believe in Santa, but understand now that he is a symbol of Christ? Thanks for the thoughts!

shauna said...

This is such a great FHE idea. I can't wait until Monday to give this lesson. Maybe I'll sneak it in today! Thanks so much.

Mindy said...

This is just awesome. Thanks for listening to the Spirit and writing down your thoughts when they came, and thanks for blogging about it instead of finishing those Christmas projects! :)

Simply wonderful. I can't wait to use this with our littles on Monday.

Tami said...

Yes, they do believe in Santa, though as I become more aware I would like to transition them to seeing him as a lovely symbol. I am beginning to feel that Latter-day Saints who know Jesus and have the truth do not need Santa to confuse their realities. But it's hard to do that! My oldest is 7, and I think as they begin to question we will be able to guide them more in the direction we would prefer, and we won't push the Santa issue with the young ones. I don't want to be a Santa-Scrooge I just want to do whatever will help bring them closer to their Savior! I'll keep praying as we travel this road, and would welcome your thoughts and suggestions!

Inspiration Station said...

I love your FHE lesson idea. So good! Have you read I Believe in Santa Claus by Diane Adamson? It is my favorite book about bridging the gap between Santa as a symbol of Christmas and Christ as the focal point. Just thought I would share. We read it to the kids every Christmas Eve. You can find it here:
http://www.amazon.com/Believe-Santa-Claus-Diane-Adamson/dp/0967357101

Kimberly said...

Thanks for sharing-this is a great idea. I'm hoping to not do Santa at all at our house-but I'm they will inevitably learn about it from others.

aubrey said...

love it and am using it tonight. you're brilliant!

Crystal said...

I absolutely love this. Thank you for sharing, its perfect! I'll be using this on Monday!
I'd love to know where you got the picture of Santa kneeling at the manger.

Tami said...

Crystal - I just did a Google search for Santa kneeling at the manger. There are several choices!

Courtney said...

There is a beautiful picture book titled " I Believe in Santa" by Diane Adamson that depicts this very thing. I highly recommended it. We read it every Christmas Eve.

Tami said...

I'd love to find that book! It's like $78 on Amazon (probably meaning they don't actually have it and your order would be cancelled anyway)

Angela said...

I truly believe this is an inspired idea. I so love the spirit of Christmas, and it bothers me when people gripe on Santa. I have always believed that he embodies the spirit of Christmas, and you have given us a mode of teaching this to children in such a simple, poignant way!

Dani said...

Thanks so much for sharing your inspirational FHE! As others have said it is a good way to make the transition from "material" Santa to the true meaning of the season. I really wish I could find the "I Believe in Santa" book but it seems to be out of print, dang it! If anyone knows where to find a copy, please pass on the info! :)

Anonymous said...

I have told my kids that Santa is pretend and keep them from watching and reading to much about him so that they don't get confused. My sister in law tried to tell my four year old that Santa is real ( she knows that I don't want her to believe in Santa) and she told her, " but Santa is pretend." then she wanted to make sure with me. Very aggravating. In fact my husbands whole side of the family think it horrible that I am doing this and says so often. So we are now seeing them much less. I was never taught to believe in Santa and I am so glad because I was never confused about the real purpose of Christmas. Love this idea! It is truly inspired!

DerrK said...

I have told this to my kids, but wasn't sure of a way to really present it. Thank You for sharing! This is perfect.

Anonymous said...

I really appreciate the comments from anonymous. Since my husband left the church, I wanted my kids to be able be able to trust me completely. So for everyone who looks down on Santa haters, some of have a hard road to travel and have our reasons.

Kasey said...

I love this idea! I'm very interested in the picture of Santa kneeling at Jesus though!

Heather @ Raising Memories Blog said...

Thanks for this great idea! I'm using it for FHE tonight! :)

Petunia+Poppy said...

It hasn't felt much like Christmastime to me this year. I keep telling my husband I think it's because we've been so busy with getting all of our presents in order that we haven't talked about the true meaning of Christmas with the kids. THANK you so much for this post. It's exactly what we need in our home. I can't wait to do this with my family on monday night!! great way to teach our kids!!

Randi S said...

I like this post except that Santa isn't a symbol of Jesus Christ. Santa was St. Nicholas, a Christian who gave gifts to little boys & girls around Jesus' birthday to help celebrate.

Kevin and Natali McKee said...

Unless the children start to think Christ is fictional like Santa is.

Ramey Channell said...

Here's a very brief explanation of who St. Nicholas really was: "The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering."
My childern have always understood that the name Santa Claus was derived from the original "Saint Nicholas." I don't believe Santa Claus is a symbol for Jesus, he's a symbol of St. Nicholas, whose generosity and kindness were inspired by his belief in Jesus.
I always tell my children, and grandchild, that Christmas is Jesus's birthday, and I remind them "On your birthday, you get gifts. And on your friends' birthdays, they get gifts. But Jesus loves everyone so much, on Jesus's birthday, everybody gets gifts."
So, at some point the child realizes that the "Santa Claus" of today is symbolic of the St. Nicholas of the past. But in our family, we never try to say that Santa Claus is a symbol for Jesus. I feel that Santa Claus is one element in our celebration of Jesus's birthday, just like Christas trees, candles, wreaths, cookies, and sharing what we have with others.

Anonymous said...

Thank You so much, my eight year old has been asking me some pretty hard questions about Santa and I didn't know how to reply because I didn't want to crush her little heart. But now I don't have to, thank you for pointing those similarties out to me. Great Life Leason!

Brittany said...

What a great idea! My kids are just old enough to understand Christmas. This will be fun to do this year. Thanks for this post!

Anonymous said...

The Book I Believe in Santa Claus can be found at the Deseret Books store around Christmas time

Mrs. Labrum said...

One year we had the best Ward Christmas party ever. We had Santa sitting in a room decorated like a living room with a Christmas tree, gifts, a floor lamp for soft light, and sitting in a large rocking chair. The children sat around his feet while he read I Believe In Santa Claus. Then he reminded them about the real reason for Christmas and gave each child a small picture of Christ. It was a beautiful, spiritual night.

Anonymous said...

This painting hung in my Sunday School class when I was a little girl. The lesson I remember learning from the painting was that there is no doorknob or handle. Jesus knocks at the door, but we have to open the door and let him in.

Anonymous said...

OH, THE IRONY!

Mary Benton said...

I agree. As long as we teach if Christ throughout the year- there is enough love in a child's heart for both. the important part is to make sure we never live when they question.

Anonymous said...

You may not see this but Amazon has this book for $14. I just ordered it!

Kristie said...

This is a great idea. And a great explaination. My kids are just getting old enough to be excited about Santa and the presents. This will be a great way to explain things to my kids.
Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Ramey (23). I think it's incorrect to forget about St Nicholas and confuse him with Jesus. He's a man who was following the guidelines and practices of Jesus. This is just as valid for a child. And the parallel of the red clothing is also misleading. St. Nicholas was originally depicted as wearing dark greens and browns... it's only thanks to COCA COLA and their advertising campaigns this this century that we now know Santa as wearing red. I don't think you'd want Jesus to actually be a symbol for Coke...
It is a very cool thing to make a child think about the reason behind Christmas though. Hopefully they will realise it's not just about new ipad minis.
Merry Christmas x

Alicia Johnson said...

What a great thought! For all of us :) We're going to do this for FHE tomorrow night. Thanks for taking the time to share this thought.

momofsomja said...

Fantastic idea! Can't wait to use it for FHE (tweaked just a bit). And just a thought, in my family while growing up, we believed in Santa just as we believed in fairies and Mickey Mouse, but my mom always focused our Christmas celebrations around Jesus first and then the magic of Santa. Santa was an example of service that Jesus had first given us, and expected us to continue. As a child, I loved Christmas for celebrating both Jesus' birth and the anticipation of Santa Claus, but as an adult I KNOW that the season is about our Savior. Are we not giving children these days enough credit? Do we not think that they also can make that transition? I believe they are smarter, faster, more spiritual and closer to our Father in Heaven than we are! They too can do it! Just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

What a fantastic idea!! I am doing a ward family home evening activity next week about the saviour being the true meaning of Christmas and this would be perfect to help us all remember the first gift of Christmas which was the birth or our lord Jesus Christ and how he has given us the ultimate give of his life so we can have eternal life through the atonement. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Anonymous said...

Santa Claus is the German name for St. Nicholas. Hence why Santa is often referred to as ole St. Nick. To use Santa as a symbol for Jesus completely negates all the good that St. Nick did. Afterall, St. Nick giving poor children gifts for Jesus' birthday was a precursor to our modern day Christmas. Of course, today's Christmas is way too commercialized. Instead keep Santa Claus in the story. Teach your children about his gernerosity to the less fortunate to honor Jesus' birthday. In our home, we do not give many gifts we keep a modest budget. We build memories instead. Plus we buy presents for less fortunate children and donate food. And of course we have a bday cake for Jesus.

Niesha said...

I love this. Thank you for sharing it.

Jamie Younker said...

Just bought the I Believe in Santa book on amazon for $15 if you're still looking for it :) Thanks for the great FHE lesson!

agkcrbs said...

I went through a phase of wondering how or if I would teach my children Santa, and another where Santa symbolised Jesus. It's valid, of course; everybody who does what Christ did rightly becomes a symbol of Christ. Our Santa has a lot of cultural decoration, but his essence is one of great parental kindness and joyful giving.

At this point, I'm tremendously thankful my parents gave me the freedom to have an imagination and to feel the wonder of a hopeful childhood to instruct my life. While I hope to bequeath the best of what I know in every respect, I wouldn't dream of placing robotic limits on my future child's mind, robbing them of a sense of the possible beyond the probable, shattering artistic traditions over my own insecurity, or forcing them from babyhood into a cold, colourles, cynical adult logic that's little benefit even to adults. Every parent must do what they suppose is best, but real consistency in that approach would naturally require the banning of cartoons, movies, and fictional literature.

Ashley jo said...

Thanks for this. I am going to use this lesson for my GEMS girls at church! Merry CHRISTmas!

Anonymous said...

That's why I never told my kids Santa or any other childhood character was real. I wanted them to know that Jesus is real and that one day I wasn't going to say o by the way Santa is fake the Easter bunny is fake and so is .... And then have them wondering about the most important person in their lives. However I had older kids that did believe because I was not a Christian at the time so they thought it was mean and their little siblings were missing out.

Camille said...

Thanks for this fabulous idea. I love including Santa in our tradition as well as keeping things focused on Christ and this is just so perfect. Thanks!

Michae said...

You should check out the book "I Believe in Santa". I bought it at the church bookstore a few years ago. I love the book and this idea! I will definitely use this idea!

snbjork said...

Thank you so much for sharing and posting this! My husband and I used this lesson for our FHE last night. It was wonderful. My kids also thought they would see Santa behind the red door. Boy were they surprised! We found several "symbols" of Christ during the Christmas season, as you said. They were ornaments on the tree: angel, Santa, candy cane, and a star. It was one of the best lessons we've ever had.