Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Book Review - Santa's Favorite Story

Santa's Favorite Story: Santa Tells the Story of the First ChristmasI know some families don't like to mix Santa with their Christmas celebrations. Some parents only want to focus their kids' short attention spans on the true story of Christmas, and the real reason that we celebrate, the birth of Jesus.

I grew up in a family that was able to have a lot of fun with Santa, while still always keeping Jesus' birth at the primary focus of our celebrations. We sat on Santa's lap (at an embarrassingly old age, even, for me). I remember driving around on Christmas Eve and teasing each other that the red warning lights on the radio towers  were really Rudolph's nose. I also remember every year for quite a while trying to devise plans to catch my parents in the act of playing Santa...and never succeeding because my brother would always take the first watch. With all of this fun, my favorite parts of Christmas were attending the candlelight Christmas Eve service at church, singing Christmas carols about Jesus' birth, and setting up our nativity scene. There was never any doubt about what Christmas was all about. I am striving to have this same focus and fun with my kids as they grow. Last year we made a cake for Jesus' Birthday. This year we've started making advent paper chains with lines from this poem on each link. I read these lines:

It isn't the tinsel,
The wrapping or things,
That make me feel happy and
Make my heart sing.
The reason is simple...

to my daughter and asked her what the reason is and she said, "Because it is Jesus' Birthday!" She knows...but she is still excited to sit on Santa's lap again this year.

I guess all of this is just introduction to say how much I like the idea of Santa's Favorite Story. It tells the story of some woodland animals who find Santa taking a cat nap one snowy afternoon before Christmas Eve. They are worried that his fatigue will spell the end of Christmas, and Santa assures them that Christmas is not really about him. Then he tells them the "real story" of Christmas, how Jesus was born in Bethlehem and laid in a manger, where some shepherds found Him and came to worship. The animals all learn that Jesus gave us the greatest gift by coming as a baby that first Christmas night, and Santa gains fresh energy to carry out his duties on Christmas Eve, reminded of the true spirit of Christmas himself. I love the story line and the artwork in the book. I think the message is simple and that any child will understand that Christmas is all about Jesus' birth.

My one frustration is that the story of Jesus' birth as related in Santa's Favorite Story isn't quite aligned with the accounts in the Gospels (especially Luke 2). The shepherds hear "a voice" and follow a star to Bethlehem rather than seeing a choir of angels who instruct them to go there and find Jesus in a manger. Maybe Santa's sleepy state makes him roll the shepherds and wise men into one? I don't just seems to me that if Santa is going to tell the animals the true story of Christmas it might as well be the True Story. Nonetheless it is a fun take on blending the fun of Santa with the true reasons we celebrate Christmas.
What do you think? How does your family handle this aspect of Christmas?


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