The boys have been asking me every 10 minutes how many days are left until Christmas. While I can understand their excitement, it gets a little old. You can imagine my relief and gratitude when Joey came home from school yesterday with a countdown to Christmas art project. It is a star with a tail made out of paper chains. You remove one chain every night before bed and when there are no more chains left it is Christmas. Genius! Why didn't I think of that? All of my brain cells must be leaking out through my breastmilk.
It is a fun and easy little project, and the boys love it. We will be making one for Tommy today so that I don't have to hear, "He got to pull the chain off last night!", "No, I didn't!", "It's my turn!", "Waaaa". You know how it goes.
I love that the boys are so excited for Christmas, and are at an age that they remember Santa and all that comes along with Santa. Still, I struggle to find a balance for the boys between the commercial side of Christmas, and the real meaning of Christmas. Part of me feels that they are young and able to enjoy the Santa aspect of Christmas for such a short period of time, and I should let them go all out. Another part of me longs to have them feel the deep connection to Jesus early in their lives, if that is even possible.
We put up our Christmas tree, string the lights, get out my ever-growing collection of snowmen, hang the garland, put the wreath on the front door, and decorate the outside trees with red and white lights. We also put up our nativity set, wrap the baby Jesus in a soft little cloth (a faux blanket, of sorts) and tuck him away in a temporary crib until Christmas Eve. We talk about how Christmas is baby Jesus' birthday, and how Jesus came to show us how to love each other.
Still, it doesn't seem enough.
Then, the other day we were at the store and a gentleman who works there was asking the boys if they have been good.
"Cause you know who is watching, don't you?" the man asked.
"Santa!" the boys both shouted.
I smiled but I also cringed, just slightly, on the inside. I always bristle at the thought of a child being good simply to get presents from Santa. Maybe this would be the perfect opportunity to plant a gentle reminder of the One we should really want to impress. So I said, "But who is even more important than Santa, and who always watches us?"
Without hesitation Joey said, "God!"
My heart beamed and I let out a deep, satisfied sigh.
"That's right, honey!" I said with pride.
They had been listening.