True Believer

True Believer December 16, 2010

I wrote yesterday about the boys’ inability to keep secrets.  Their inability to keep anything to themselves means that I am VERY careful about what I say in front of them.  I don’t debrief the party with Jeff on the way home in the car.  I don’t have important phone conversations if they are within earshot.  You get the idea.

Which makes the whole issue of Santa Claus very difficult.

We don’t do Santa Claus in our house.  Our family doesn’t give gifts on Christmas, so it would be tough to make him seem like a swell fella.  We’ve explained that lots of families have fun pretending that Santa is real, and that it would be mean to ruin the fun for them.  Still, I live in fear each December and January that my secret spoilers will blurt out the cold, hard truth.

Zach has almost blown it a few times, but I’ve been able to jump in, shoot him the evil eye, and make it all go away.  Ezra is not a problem, though — because Ezra believes in Santa Claus.

He doesn’t get presents.  We’ve told him that Santa’s not real.  But he’s a true believer.

He talks about Santa, dreams aloud of all of the gifts Santa is going bring, and delights in the gifts that the big guy brings others.  This year, since getting all crazy about Jesus, he is less into Santa.  But Ezra definitely has what Christians call “the gift of faith.” He loves a good story, and he wants a story big enough to live in.  Maybe we all want that.

While we don’t give gifts to each other, we do actually buy gifts. We buy gifts “for Jesus,” donating to the Salvation Army near our house most years.  This year, the boys took their “sharing” money (1/3 of their allowance) and bought bees for a family in a developing country through Heifer project (check them out – they rock!).  Similarly, our church buys gifts for boys and girls whose parents are incarcerated.  Working with an organization called Prison Fellowship to host an “Angel Tree,” we talk to the parent who is still home and find out what the kids want and need.  Today, the boys and Jeff brought gifts to three Angel Tree families as part of the service that they do once or twice a month for homeschool.

When I asked how it went, they both said, “Cool!”

It’s always hard for me to process that kind of reaction.  Is it cool that my boys have a fun service experience at the expense of some child’s very painful reality?  Okay, expense is not the right word, but I am always working out how to do this well.  (click here to read about  last year’s internal debate)

We do it in spite of my concerns because Jesus said, “What you do for the least of these, you do for me.”

And while I often respond, “Well, Savior of the World, why don’t you do something to eliminate the problem of having so many people with so little,” sometimes I just settle in and give him the gift he asked for.

Because like my son, I just love the story.

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  • Janis Henning

    Tara –

    While I was the Sunday School Superintendent of our church the kids took part in the Heifer Project as well. They loved it!! We bought so many animals for so many families…. And our church used to do the Angel Tree also – not sure why they no longer do it. The Sunday School children would all donate what ever money they could and the teachers would go out and buy the gifts for the family. Both are GREAT causes to give to, especially as a way to teach our children about giving to others who are not as fortunate as we are. For the past several years my Rae has been putting a "Christmas Box" together for Samaritan's Purse. Last year she even had other girls in her dorm doing it, too. Another great way to give back!!

  • Jenny

    I too love Heifer International. I gave a goat and a box of bees on behalf of my co-workers in lieu of getting them gifts. The organization is ranked high by the powers that rank charitable organizations and how they spend their money.

  • Marilyn

    Heifer project has been around for a very long time. I remember saving part of my allowance in a special box as a kid and that was a few decades back. We never had enough for a cow, but we did buy chickens.