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Swedish heritage : I deal in hope

I deal in hope : Carolyn R Scheidies

Blog Bio Christmas, Jesus and Santa

When I was a preschooler, my pastor father served a church in Clitherall, Minnesota. Originally, we lived in a house too small for our growing family. The church bought the bank building on main street to use as the church until they bought a church building, moving it in onto some property they owned.

The bank building became our new home. It was a beautiful red brick building with double entry doors and a fancy ceiling. Several rooms were created on one side for three bedrooms–right next to the still functioning vault, my folks were careful to keep locked. There was a room at the far end that was turned into our kitchen. It also held a large fireplace. Since this was in the 1950s, the building had no indoor bathroom. We had an outhouse out back.

But come Christmas, the fascinating aspect of our house was that fireplace. I don’t think I ever saw it lit. However, we knew the story of Santa Claus and the need for a fireplace so Santa could leave gifts.

With our Swedish heritage, Christmas was Christmas Eve for us. Early on our folks started traditions that included Dad reading the Christmas story before we each gave thanks for our blessings. Only then did Dad hand out our gifts–one at a time so we could appreciate each one and the giver. Back then, we did not have much, and every gift really was appreciated–mostly homemade.

Our folks were careful to make sure we understood the true meaning of Christmas was Jesus coming to earth to live, die a martyr’s death–sacrificing His life for all the wrongs we did. Then He rose again conquering death itself to offer life in Him both now and forever as we bowed before Him.

But that was Christmas Eve. My sister and I (our brother Paul was born when we lived in Minnesota and was way too young) went to bed excitedly anticipating our gifts from “Santa” the next morning. Early the next morning we rushed to the kitchen area to see what was by the fireplace. Yes. There were gifts. I remember a huge coloring book and some smaller items. It was exciting to think that Santa remembered us.

Karin was older by 3 ½ years and didn’t want me to have illusions about what Christmas was all about. “Mom and Dad actually gave us these gifts,” she told me. What! Even at my young age, I knew it was difficult for our folks to buy us gifts. And these were extra gifts–not from Santa? Karin explained that Santa was fun, but not real. That Jesus was real and the true reason for Christmas.

Some families are all in about Santa and Jesus plays only a minor role. Other families ban Santa altogether. My folks took a different approach. They helped us realize Santa is a fun myth and allowed us to embrace that aspect of the holidays. But, they also made sure we understood the center of our celebration remained on the truth that a very real Savior did come to save and set us free for one reason–because He loved us.

What helped me put our traditions in perspective was a graphic that circulated some years ago. It was a picture of the manger, with Santa on his knees before the baby Jesus.

As the angels told the shepherds, “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord…” Luke 2:10b-11 NKJV

Let us worship at the manger this Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

© 2021 Carolyn R Scheidies
My Kearney Hub column 12/20/2021

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