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Q & A with Tally: Holidays

Recently I've been asked (nicely) about my view on the holiday question and some in particular of how we'll approach the subject.

There is always a risk when you have an open blog. I'm putting myself out there. Folks who do not blog or do not blog openly about controversial issues are able to hold beliefs and let people guess where they stand. As I post my thoughts on this topic I want to make two things abundantly clear.

1. I am not prescribing that our view should be anyone else's view.
Our view is based on tons of things that have made us the parents of our son and I'm not presuming that everyone else should follow our lead.

2. This isn't a debate. While most of what I blog about can become an open discussion, this one isn't up for grabs. My writing about how we will raise Caleb is not open invitation for anyone to come into our lives and try to dictate their view on us. Besides you wouldn't want to hear what I had to say.

Please take the following for what it is and nothing more.... a particular answer to a particular question to a dicey area of raising children. The only reason I'm addressing it is to allow readers into our conclusions on some of this.

The question sent to me:

"Halloween! Boy we struggle with that issue. When do you reach the point of condoning what the world celebrates and stand firm for Christ? How far do you have to go before it's a "compromise" with the world? Do you tell your kid there is no Santa Clause, because it takes away from the true meaning of Christmas? These are some of the hardest things I've faced as a Christian parent. I still don't have the answers, but I almost dread certain holidays because of the implications."

This is the great debate that all honest Christian parents would say they've had at one point or another. Some have chosen to err on the side of caution and avoid these holidays all together. Some have chosen to just let kids be kids and not get worried about it. Some take our approach and let kids be kids but educate them as they go.

As you can tell from my post the other day about Caleb's costume, we fall into the third category. We want to be in the world but not of it.

Halloween- Until he knows any different our son will see this is a fun time when everyone plays make believe and even the adults get in on the action. Not to mention he gets CANDY. What kid wouldn't want that? We're going to allow him to play make-believe with this holiday and as he's older explain to him some of the origins. The moment he takes a Spanish class he'll be hit with this (yes he will know one or more foreign languages). We'll provide him the history and biblical reasoning for why the original intent of the holiday is whacked. The Americanized version is just a silly night.

Christmas- We've decided that Caleb will never get a gift from "Santa" in his life. Why? Because I'm jealous. Similar to the way God is jealous. I want him to know who took time and energy to be a blessing to him. Some dude in a red hat didn't do it. Will he know who the character "Santa" is? Sure. But again... we'll be sure to let him know that Santa is a story. We are taking Caleb to Sesame Street Live. We speak of Elmo as if he's real. We talk of Diego as if he's alive. We view these things in the same way we'll approach Santa. They are cartoons that represent things but aren't the truth. Santa is just another cartoon. Jesus is who we worship and hold our allegiance.

Easter- Same here with Christmas. We'll teach Caleb that these are just characters. At the age he can understand he'll know.

Our reasoning is that a child's imagination is a positive thing. In fact as a person gets older and lose their imagination we find that they are less productive, less able to solve problems and more likely to just buy what's been fed to them. There is benefit to allowing a kid the freedom to imagine.

The question of being of the world or condoning the world's actions:

We've seen this as a fair question. Obviously we're to be an examples not only to believers but especially to those outside of the church. What is the best way to do that?

Where we stand is this: Even if we take away Santa, Halloween and the Easter Bunny in the name of not condoning the world or trying to 'avoid the appearance of evil' my son will still see Ronald McDonald, Barney, Diego, Elmo, Huge Cows at Chic-fil-A, Handy Manny, etc. He'll continue to be surrounded by characters who aren't real.

To hold a consistent line to be sure he was never to believe in characters that aren't real, I feel we'd have to avoid all malls or fast-food places so my son doesn't ever see a "character" who isn't real. We'd even have to eliminate "Bible Man" and most of the kids section at the local Christian book store.

The most popular "Christian" children's program could be argued as "New Age" because personification has taken over vegetables. Larry and Bob are given a free pass on many of these questions because they are endorsed by Lifeway and Family Christian Stores. ;)

We see no substantive difference between allowing him to be exposed to American societies false characters and those of the "Christian" variety. To our knowledge no cartoons are saved by the blood of the lamb so we don't believe in "Christian Cartoons", only Christian messages. So the main point for us isn't what character he's believing but rather "What message is my child receiving?" That is where we've decided to draw our line. It is our job to instruct and teach our child to follow the life of Jesus. That's the message we care most about. We're not concerned with the appearence "Christian People" have of his participation in holidays... we're most concerned with where our child is spiritually according to his age. While it's easier to wrap him in bubble-wrap and cover his eyes and ears... we're going to take the harder road of equipping him as we go.

Taking it one step further I want my son to be able to develop the skill of seeing behind a facade in life. I don't mind him going through the brain development of learning that not everything is what it's cracked up to be. Larry and Bob aren't real and my veggies don't talk to me. The funny thing is that Caleb has never once shown signs of cannibalizing Bob or Larry. He has been able to separate just fine the idea that they are characters and are not real-life.

I want him to learn that not everything is as it seems.
Santa merely represents Christmas to a lost world, a Bunny merely represents Easter to a lost world, etc. As he grows I want him to learn that not everything is what it seems but the one thing that is... is Christ. I then want him to be able to give people who believe in these myths the truths of the gospel. I believe he'll be better served if he's at least familiar with the customs and language of the country in which he's likely to be a missionary.

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Tuesday, October 16, 2007


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