The Santa Claus Debate

The Santa Claus Debate

The Santa Claus Debate: Does your family include Santa in your holiday celebrations?
The Santa Claus Debate: Does your family include Santa in your holiday celebrations?

Whether to let your child believe in Santa Claus or not has been a big discussion among the Christian community for quite a while and thus started the Santa Debate.

I grew up in a Christian home, went to a Bible teaching church and a Christian high school. I ran into a lot of people that didn’t want their children believing in Santa Claus. The household I grew up in, and the household I raised my children in, were not among the Santa unbelievers.

As a Christian, I believe that the main emphasis of the Christmas season should be honoring and celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. I believe that the important lesson from the season is the lesson of giving. During this time of the year, we should be finding ways to give of ourselves, expecting nothing in return. Much like God did when He gave us His precious Son, Jesus.

Jesus was the center of our Christmas season but we also believed in Santa Claus. Children believe in a lot of things when they are young that they will eventually out grow. They believe in monsters under their beds, that they will never ever want to leave home, and little girls believe they will grow up and marry their daddies. I do not believe it is harmful to let children believe in these things when they are young, but how you handle it when they start asking questions can be the tricky part.

I appreciate the way my mother handled the questions. She wouldn’t lie to us, but rather ask us questions to find out what we believed (and probably more importantly, what we wanted to believe).

When we would go to her and ask, “Is Santa real?” She would ask us, “What do you think?” Then we would have a discussion about it. Once your child gets old enough to look you in the face and ask if you are Santa, then its time to tell the truth. Of course, if you think they are still too young to tell them the truth about Santa you can try a few questions first like, “What do you think?” If they say they don’t believe you could be Santa, they will probably give you reasons like, “You couldn’t be Santa because you don’t have a sleigh.” If they give you an answer like that, then they probably aren’t ready to give up the idea of Santa but if they say something more like, “I think you are Santa because I saw some of the same toys that Santa brought in the back of your closet.” Then the jig is up and you should tell them the truth.

I was somewhere around seven or eight years old when I had to face the realization that my parents were Santa Claus. My mom thinks that I had all ready figured it out but I was enjoying the fantasy. It was my younger sister that brought the fantasy to an end. She was between three and four years old. She went to our mom, looked her in the eyes and said, “Tell me the truth! Are you and daddy Santa Claus?” Well, with a straightforward question like that mom had no choice but to tell her. Mom says that based on the reaction I had towards my little sister, I must have all ready suspected that they were acting as Santa Claus. I took my sister back to our bedroom and with tears running down my face I said, “Now you blew it!”

Other than being upset at my sister for blowing Christmas and Santa for me, I reacted pretty much the same as the boy talked about in the blog post, “Do You Still Believe in Santa?” I was quite impressed and thankful for all that my parents had done for us and given us, without any recognition. For all those years, the love and gratitude for most of the presents had gone to Santa Claus. Now I was realizing that it was mom and dad that had spent all that money and had stayed up most of the night putting together toys and setting them around the Christmas tree.

My parents were wonderful in the fact that even though we now knew the truth as to who Santa really was, he still came to visit as long as we wanted to “believe”. We did the same thing for our children. “Santa” wasn’t quite as extravagant in the years after the truth was revealed, but he still brought a few things and filled stockings.

Right now “Santa” only brings a few things for my husband and my stocking since the children are now grown and gone. Yes, I still believe in Santa Claus and I still enjoy being Santa Claus. I’m sure that I always will.

Related Posts:

The True Meaning of Christmas
Christmas Angels to Laugh and Learn With
The Christmas Star
Love to Learn About the Nativity

Love to Learn about the Nativity

Love to Learn about the Nativity

Nativity Scene: A representation of the birth of Jesus, God’s Son. It usually includes Mary, Joseph, a manger with Baby Jesus, some Shepherds and animals. Sometimes you will see 3 Kings or Wisemen included in the Nativity scene even though they were not there the night of the birth.

It is a good practice to think often of the great gift God sent to us; His only son, Jesus. Not just at Christmas but all through the year. But with Christmas Eve here, what better story to share with your family than the story of the night Jesus was born. It doesn’t matter whether you read the story straight from the Bible or a simple version that will be easier for your child to understand, just be sure to remind your family what Christmas is really about.

There are many great Bible translations out there but I enjoy the Christmas story from the King James Version. That is the version of the story that I grew up with and it’s the one quoted in the Charlie Brown Christmas movie.

Christmas Story
Craft
Finger Plays
Songs
Story Time
Related Posts

Christmas Story

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.”
– Luke 2: 1-20 KJV (If you would like to find another translation check out http://www.biblegateway.com)

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Craft

Flower Pot Nativity Scene

I first saw this craft on pinterest.com. After a little research, I found out that the craft was first posted on thebigmamablog.com You will find a couple different photographs of the craft created by different people.

Materials Needed:

2 medium flower pots
1 small flower pot
acrylic paint
2 medium wooden balls (for Mary and Joseph’s heads)
1 small wooden ball (for Jesus’s head)
fabric for their head coverings
white fabric to swaddle (wrap) Baby Jesus in
doll hair (or you can just color it in with a Sharpie)
roll of grapevine to create headpiece and staff
moss
silver pipe cleaner or aluminum foil (for the halo)
hot glue gun or Aleene’s tacky glue
Sharpie, fine point
hay (optional for manger)

Instructions:

1. Paint the smallest flower pot brown, to represent the manger.
2. Paint the two larger pots whatever color you want Mary and Joseph’s clothes to be.
3. Use the fine point Sharpie to draw facial features on Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus.
4. Glue heads onto biggest pots.
5. Cut fabric and glue coverings to the heads.
6. Wrap white fabric to look like a baby wrapped in blanket.
7. Glue into smallest pot. Add Baby Jesus head.
8. Make a halo out of a silver pipe cleaner or twist a piece of aluminum foil and form it in a circle to make a halo. Glue to Baby Jesus’ head.
9. Use a brown pipe cleaner or a piece of grapevine to make a shepherd’s staff and glue to Joseph
10. Be sure to check the images out on thebigmamablog.com

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Finger Plays

The First Christmas
(Action Rhyme)

Clop, clop, clop went the donkey’s feet,
(stomp feet like donkey walking)
Clop, clop, clop down the stony street.
(stomp feet like donkey walking)
Nod, nod, nod went Mary’s head.
(nod head up and down)
She was tired, and she needed a bed.
(stretch arms out and yawn)
Knock, knock, knock went Joseph at the door.
(act like knocking on door)
“Do you have room for anyone more?”
(hold hands up in a questioning motion)
“No, No, No!” the innkeeper said,
(shake index finger)
“I don’t even have one more bed.”
(hold up one index finger)
“Wait, wait, wait,” the innkeeper said,
(hold hand up, palm out, like police officer stopping traffic)
“You can use my stable for a bed.”
(put hands together under head, like sleeping)
“Shh, shh, shh…What is that I hear?
(hold index finger up to lips, then hold hand to ear)
The cry of Baby Jesus, oh so dear!”
(hold arms like rocking a baby)
– Original Author Unknown

Baby Jesus

Baby Jesus snuggles in deep,
(put hands together under head, like sleeping)
In warm but scratchy straw.
(scratch all over)
On a nearby hillside, shepherds hear,
(put hand to ear)
The angel’s song of awe.
(flap arms like angel wings)
They race to Bethlehem to see,
(run in place)
The king born in a stable.
(make animal sounds)
Then kneel before the Son of God,
(fold hands like in prayer)
A manger for his cradle.
(hold arms like rocking a baby)
Original Author Unknown

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Songs

Away in a Manger

Away in a manger,
No crib for a bed
The little Lord Jesus
Laid down His sweet head

The stars in the sky
Looked down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus
Asleep on the hay

The cattle are lowing
The Baby awakes
But little Lord Jesus
No crying He makes

I love Thee, Lord Jesus
Look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle,
‘Til morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus,
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me I pray

Bless all the dear children
In Thy tender care
And take us to heaven
To live with Thee there

Silent Night

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth

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Story Time

Away in a Manger illustrated by Mike Jaroszko
Reading Level: Ages 4 and up
This is a beautiful picture book. Illustrations are put to the familiar Christmas carol. They bring the book to life and visual meaning to the beautiful words.

The Christmas Baby by Marion Dane Bauer
Reading Level: Ages 2 to 7 years old
I love this version of the Christmas story. It goes through the familiar pieces of the story; Mary and Joseph trying to find a place to stay, the animals rejoicing, the angels rejoicing, the shepherd rejoicing and the wisemen coming from afar. But there was a sweet addition to this story that I wasn’t expecting. At the end of the Christmas part of the story it says that the Baby smiled with God’s own smile but the book doesn’t end there. It goes on to tell a short story about what happens every time a baby is born; angels rejoice, moms, dads, grandparents rejoice and the baby smiles with God’s own smile. I definitely want to get this book for my grandchildren’s first Christmas!

The Christmas Story: From the Gospel According to St. Luke from the King James Bible
Reading Level: Ages 3 and up
I love the fact that this is the Christmas story taken straight from the Bible. The story starts with the decree from Caesar Augustus and goes through to the shepherds returning to their fields praising God. I love the illustrations by James Bernardin. They are sweet and tender. I definitely want to add this book to my collection and include it in our holiday traditions.

The Christmas Story adapted and illustrated by Kay Chorao
Reading Level: Ages 3 and up
This story is adapted from the Book of Luke 2:1-21 and the Book of Matthew 2:1-12, King James version. The story starts where Mary is visited by an angel and goes through them fleeing to Egypt then finally returning to Nazareth. This is a wonderful way to share the Biblical account of Christ’s birth to young children.

Listen to the Silent Night by Dandi Daley Mackall
Reading Level: Ages 3 and up
This is a beautifully illustrated and book written in rhyme. The theme running through the book is that on this Silent Night things are not so silent. There is the flip, flap flap of sandals, the swish, swish, swish of the desert sand and the baa, baa, baa of the sheep; to name just a few of the sounds that people encountered this special night.

The Nativity illustrated by Julie Vivas
Reading Level: Ages 4 and up
I love these illustrations to the Christmas story. They are cute whimsical images done in a muted water-color style. The text comes from the Bible. I have added this book to my Christmas library because this will be a fun way to share the Christmas story with my grandchildren.

Tiny Baby Jesus by Dandi Daley Mackall
Reading Level: Ages 4 and up
The thing I love most about this book is the way it compares the baby Jesus with the adult Jesus. It first talks of the Baby’s tiny tiny fingers and then goes on to explain how He used those fingers as a carpenter. It talks of His tiny feet and then of how His adult feet walked on the sea. This book is a great reminder to children of all ages that Jesus was not just a baby in a manger but grew up into a loving man and our Savior.

I pray that you have a wonderful Christmas with your families. Give hugs and kisses to everyone around you.

May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make his face to shine upon you,
and be gracious to you.
May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you,
and give you peace.
based on Numbers 6:24-26

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Related Posts:

The Santa Claus Debate
The True Meaning of Christmas
The Christmas Star
Christmas Angels to Laugh and Learn With
Love to Learn the Meaning of Candy Canes for Christmas
Review – Christmas on Monument Circle, Indianapolis

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Christmas Angels to Laugh and Learn With

Christmas Angels to Laugh and Learn With

Christmas Angels – Appeared to shepherds to announce the birth of Christ

Luke 2: 8-10 “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.’”

The Christmas Angels appeared in the sky, over the fields near Bethlehem. They announced the birth of Christ. You will usually find either an angel or a star on the top of a Christmas tree because of the importance of their appearances in the sky.

Following are some activities to do in relation to the angels. I hope you and the children in your life enjoy them.

Coloring Pages

If your child likes to color, here are a couple of free coloring pages from about.com
Angel coloring page
Cheerful Angel

Crafts:

Paper Plate Angels
I just had to share these adorable little angels I found online. They are made from paper plates. Click on Paper Plate Angels to go to the link. The one thing that I didn’t see mentioned, in the instructions, was the size of the paper plate. I used a small 6-inch sized plate. It made an adorable little angel. I was very happy with the size. If you want to put it on top of a large Christmas tree, I would use a bigger paper plate.

Christmas Angel from a paper plate.

Hand Print Angel
I have used this craft in my preschool classrooms. The parents always adore them. I love hand print crafts because they become a piece of family history. Be sure to always date the back of any special craft your child does and put their name on it. It will make a great conversation piece as you decorate for Christmas, in later years.

1) Trace the child’s hand three times. Have them keep their fingers together. Don’t spread them out like a fan.
2) Cut out the hand prints.
3) Use one hand print as the body of the angel and the other two as the wings. The wings will look the best if you be sure to place the hand prints so that the thumbs are facing down. (Refer to picture)

Christmas Angel craft with picture of child
Christmas Angel made from hand prints

4) You can either cut out a circle to use for the head or you can use a picture of your child’s head. They both make nice looking angels.
5) As a final touch, (which I forgot to add to one of my samples) you can make a halo out of a silver or gold pipe cleaner or make one out of a piece of aluminum foil. To make the halo out of aluminum foil, cut off an 8 inch by 1 inch piece of aluminum foil. Gently squish and twist it. Then form it into a circle and tape it to the back of the angel’s head.

Christmas Angel hand print craft

Story Time

“The Christmas Angel” by Hans Wilhelm
Reading Level: Ages 3 – 8
Your child will fall in love with this adorable little angel. All he wants to do is to travel from heaven down to earth; so he can sing his special song to the Son of God. But his wings are too small and he is not allowed to make the trip. Find out what happens to the scared little angel after his accidental fall off of a cloud.

“An Angel Came to Nazareth” by Anthony Knott
Reading Level: Ages 5 and up
This is a very interesting poem of an angel who came to a stable in Nazareth. The angel asks a camel, a donkey, a horse and an ox to pick which one of the four travelers they would carry. One of them would end up carrying “the greatest of them all.” Can you guess, before ever reading the poem, which animal carried “the greatest of them all”?

Please take the time to stop by my Facebook page, Love to Laugh and Learn, and tell me about any of the crafts or books that you shared with your children. I would love to see pictures too.

Related Posts:

The Santa Claus Debate
The True Meaning of Christmas
The Christmas Star
Love to Learn the Meaning of Candy Canes for Christmas
Review – Christmas on Monument Circle, Indianapolis

The Christmas Star

The Christmas Star: A heavenly sign that the wise men were able to follow to find the birth place of Jesus

“Teach the children that the star is the heavenly sign of promise,” he said. “God sent a Savior to the world and the star was the sign of that promise being fulfilled. The countless shining stars in the heavens, one star for each person on earth, represents the hope of all mankind.” (A quote from the story, Teach the Children the True Meaning of Christmas)

Matthew 2:2b “We saw His star when it rose and have come
to worship Him.”

Matthew 2:9 “After they had heard the king, they went on their way,
and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them
until it stopped over the place where the child was.”

The Christmas Star and the Christmas Angel would take turns setting on the top of our Christmas tree. To me, both are important because each one announced the birth of God’s Son. Here are some different activities to use during this blessed holiday season as you remember the real reason for the season.

Finger Play

A Shining Star
(Action Rhyme)

On the very first Christmas night,
(Put hands together; lay head on hands as if sleeping.)
A wondrous star shone big and bright.
(Hold hands above head; move fingers like stars shining.)
It marked the spot where the baby lay,
(Pretend to rock baby.)
So kings and shepherds could come to pray.
(Fold hands and kneel.)
Original Author Unknown

Crafts

Cinnamon Ornaments
Cinnamon ornaments were something that I made with my children when they were younger. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas we would make ornaments to give to family and friends as presents. They were always a big hit. This is a wonderful gift that also makes your house smell delicious. I am using the recipe from allrecipes.com because I have no idea where my recipe has gone.

Ingredients
1 cup ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup applesauce
2 tablespoons glue

Directions
1. In a medium bowl, stir together the cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Mix in the applesauce and glue. Work the mixture with your hands 2 to 3 minutes to form a ball. If mixture is too wet, add more cinnamon. If mixture is too dry, add more applesauce.
2. Lightly dust a clean surface with cinnamon. Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters, and use a toothpick or straw to make a hole at the top for hanging with a ribbon.
3. Dry in a slow oven 200 degrees F (100 degrees C) for several hours, or air dry in a sunny spot for 4 or 5 days. When dry, decorate with gingham and/ or ribbon.

Popsicle Star
I have created a lot of popsicle crafts in my time and enjoyed every one. This would be a good one if you have children of different ages. The older ones can create the stars and the younger ones can paint them and add sparkles or buttons to give it a little extra “shine”. Although I’m sure that some of the older children will want to add their own artistic touches to the stars. (This craft came from kaboose.com)

Materials Needed:
• 10 Popsicle sticks, coloured or plain
• Hot glue gun or ordinary glue
• Length of fishing line
• Paint or markers, glitter, etc.

Instructions:
1. Draw up a template of a star using craft sticks.
2. Place one stick inside one line then add some glue to the top. Position second stick on this.
3. Continue step 2 until all 10 sticks are in place.
4. Attach some fishing line to one point for hanging.
5. Decorate as desired. Using the colors yellow, gold, red and green make for a great Christmas star. Try different colors for theme parties, or use glow-in-the-dark paint for a magical bedroom at night.

Homemade Paper Stars
I recently found this ornament on the Family Fun website. I have never done this craft before but I can’t wait until my great-niece, nephews and grandkids are old enough to do this with them. It looks like it could get messy but sometimes messy is half the fun.

Materials Needed:
• 3 (9- by 12-inch) sheets of construction paper
• Blender
• Very hot water
• Folded cloth towel
• Plate
• 3-inch star-shaped cookie cutter
• Sieve
• Glitter
• Rag
• Baking sheet
• Ribbon loops

Instructions:
1. Tear 3 (9- by 12-inch) sheets of construction paper into small pieces, about the size of a domino, and place them in a blender. Pour in about 1 1/2 cups of very hot water and let it sit for 5 minutes. Meanwhile put a folded cloth towel on a plate, add a paper towel and top with a 3-inch star-shaped cookie cutter.
2. Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Pulse the blender until the mix is pulpy, about 30 seconds. Ina sieve set over the sink, drain the pulp, then spoon some into the cookie cutter to the top, taking care to fill the points. Sprinkle with glitter. Use a rag to press the pulp down into the cookie cutter until most of the water is gone, then gently push the star out onto a baking sheet. Repeat to make two more stars.
3. Bake them for 2 hours or until the moisture has evaporated (they should be firm and lightweight). Let the stars cool, the glue ribbon loops to the backs for hanging. Makes 3 stars.

Snacks

Here are a couple of healthier alternatives to cookies, as you are making crafts and reading books together.

Crispy Cheese Stars from FamilyFun.com
I love cheese so these look extra yummy to me.

Ingredients
• Flour tortillas
• Sliced cheese (cheddar, provolone, or mozzarella)
• Chili powder or paprika

Instructions:
1. Heat the oven to 350º. Use the larger cookie cutter to cut out stars from flour tortillas (about 5 per 10-inch tortilla). It’s easy for kids to do if you use a rolling pin to roll back and forth over the cutter. Bake the stars on a foil-covered cookie sheet for 5 minutes.
2. Use the smaller cookie cutter to cut out an equal number of cheese stars from the sliced cheese and place them atop the tortilla ones. Bake the stars for 2 more minutes or so until the cheese melts.
3. Sprinkle the stars with chili powder or paprika and let them cool before serving.

Star Fruit – A little fruit with your cheese is always a good thing.

Story Time

The Christmas Star Book & Advent Calendar by Marcus Pfister
Reading Level: Ages 4 – 8
Here is another great book from the author of “The Rainbow Fish”. The sparkling silver stars add so much to the illustrations. A wonderful story of how the shepherds, the Wise Men and even the animals followed the star to Bethlehem, where they welcomed the Holy Child.

Small Camel Follows the Star by Rachel W.N. Brown
Reading Level: Ages 3 to 8 yrs old
This is a sweet story of Small Camel’s first trip across the desert. It is a special trip to follow the, much sought after, star that leads the wise men to Bethlehem. Under the star they find the young King, in a very simple house. I love that this story in Biblically correct, in the fact that the wise men find the baby King, a few months later, in a house. (Matthew 2: 1- 12)

Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story
by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Reading Level: Ages 4 – 8
I love the way this story describes how all of creation was anticipating the arrival of our Savior. It talks of how the trees, the flowers and the animals were crying out, “It’s time. It’s time,” as the birth of Jesus drew near. This was a very different way to look at the Nativity scene. No shepherd, no wise men but all of creation celebrating: “Heaven’s Son sleeping under the stars that He made.”

Related Posts:

The Santa Claus Debate
The True Meaning of Christmas
Christmas Angels to Laugh and Learn With
Love to Learn About the Nativity
Love to Learn the Meaning of Candy Canes for Christmas
Review – Christmas on Monument Circle, Indianapolis

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