Two years ago, I wrote a blog for the church about my struggles with Santa Claus now that I am a parent: The Grace of Santa
While I have come to terms with those struggles, I have come up against another with regards to gift giving and parenting: Why does Santa always get to win? I grew up with the “big” gifts usually coming from Santa. We started this several years ago, mainly because those are the hard ones to wrap, but also because of the wonder and fun for our son to walk in and be surprised by them on Christmas morning.
But there are days that, as he plays with these toys, I have to remind myself that Santa brought those – because my son believes this, and I don’t want to be the one who ruins Santa for a four-year-old! And then my own selfish, sinful nature comes in and I started wondering, “Wait! Why does Santa always get to give the most exciting presents? Why does Santa always get to win the gift-giving game? Can’t Mommy and Daddy get some credit?!” I’ve talked to others who have felt the same way, so I know I’m not alone!
But then I step out of my selfishness and remember that we get to “win” every single day. We get to wake up to him wanting to snuggle (although at 5:00 a.m., that doesn’t always feel like a “win!”). We get to be a part of his daily discoveries. We get to have our hearts melted when, out of the blue, he tells us he loves us or that that we are the best mommy or daddy. But, because these are often mixed in with his fits, or need for discipline, or our own exhaustion, we often miss just what a big “win” these are on a daily basis.
And wouldn’t you know, when I started thinking about it, this is often how my own relationship is with God. (Come on, it’s a church blog. You knew it was coming!) But seriously, when huge, life-changing, long-prayed for things happen in my life, I do often give God praise, or at least some acknowledgement. But what about in the daily, mundane, routine parts of life? How often do I recognize or acknowledge God’s constant and abiding presence and love, always working toward good, even when I am in the depths of despair? Or, more importantly, when I’m not really paying attention?
It’s easy to see and get excited about the big, flashy stuff. It’s all around us, especially at this time of year. But it’s also an old story. It’s the fable of the Tortoise and the Hare. It’s the story of the “other” brother in the Parable of the Prodigal Son/Forgiving Father.
Paying attention. Awareness. Mindfulness. Appreciating the simple.
I am rarely good at this. But I am trying harder. If it’s something you struggle with as well, maybe we could support each other!
And, because I know some of you will ask, I hear that Santa is bringing the few simple toys that were asked for, along with another small surprise. He’s leaving the bigger surprise up to Mommy and Daddy this year. It really isn’t about winning or losing. It is about grace and love happening in both large AND small ways – and the gifts really have nothing to do with it.