Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Santa Claus, Reindeer, and Orphans

I love the Christmas season with all the lights and decorations. I love reading the story of Jesus' birth and attending a Candlelight Communion Service. I especially love spending time with family and friends and watching the excitement in the eyes of the children.

Ryan has been extremely excited this year with the anticipation of Christmas and Santa Claus visiting on Christmas Eve. I felt that he might be missing the true meaning of Christmas, so I asked him about going through his toys to see if there were any toys that he no longer enjoyed playing with, that he could give to children that didn't have any toys or didn't have any parents. He promptly answered me with "No, I don't have any toys I want to give away."

Surely he does not understand, since he obviously has way too many toys and doesn't even play with most of them. So I said, "What about this Batman figure? You never play with him and you don't even like him."

"No, Nanny. I don't want to give him away.", he said, emphatically.

"But Ryan, it's for children that are orphans and they won't get anything for Christmas because they don't have anybody to look after them.", exaggerating my point.

"No.", he repeated. "I said I don't want to give any of my toys away! They probably would just tear them up anyway."

I did finally locate a jigsaw puzzle that he agreed to give up. I hate to mention that this particular jigsaw puzzle has already been re-gifted at least twice.

* * *

So a little later, I asked Ryan, "Do you know who's birthday is on Christmas?"

"Santa Claus!", he exclaimed.

"No, Ryan. It's not Santa Claus' birthday . . . Santa Claus is just a spirit.", I said.

"No he's not! He lives at the North Pole with his elves and his reindeer!", standing his ground and thinking that his Nanny has lost her mind.

"Ryan, Christmas is Jesus' birthday.", I said. "Jesus was born on Christmas Day and the three wise men brought him gifts. That's why we celebrate Christmas by giving gifts just like the wise men did for Jesus."

* * *

I thought Ryan knew all the answers to my questions and I'm truly embarrassed that he answered the way he did. I think his answers were a lot like many other children his age and he forgot the true meaning of Christmas because he was so wrapped up in what he would be receiving from Santa.

In light of this conversation with Ryan, I felt it was past time that he understood the true meaning of Christmas. We are taking gifts to the local battered women's shelter on Christmas Eve. I want him to experience what it's like to give to those less fortunate. He has also been missing way too many Sunday's in Sunday School. That is changing.

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