What To Do About Santa?

Will we tell our children the truth about Santa?

I often get the question, "So are you guys telling Mekonen about Santa Claus?" Or, random strangers in the grocery store ask my almost 2 year old if he was a good boy this year so Santa will bring him a lot of presents. I grew up not believing in Santa Claus (I know, *gasp*), but I didn't feel slighted in the least. Jon grew up with Santa. So, we've had the Santa conversation in our marriage a few times, and think we have arrived at a conclusion.The issue is that there are a lot of myths on top of some truth about Santa, and how do we want to approach truth with our children? Well, plainly put, truthfully.

As one of our favorite pastors stated, there are three things the Christian can do in regards to Santa Claus. 
1. Reject Santa- have no association with anything Satan. He is often demonized in this category.
2. Receive Santa- fully accept everything Santa, portray him as fully truth
3. Redeem Santa

(Mekonen visiting Santa at the Children's Museum. He kept yelling, "down! down!" As you can tell by his face, he is quite frightened).
We have chosen to "redeem Santa." We plan on telling our children that Santa Claus was a real person that lived a long time ago and that people pretend to be Santa and dress up like Santa for fun, just like they might dress up when they play. We'll have fun with Santa and read Christmas stories about him, watch Christmas movies, and sit on his lap for a picture. We want them to know there is a real story too, and that a lot of fun and imaginary stories have been added to the real story of Santa, like a sleigh with flying reindeer, living in the North Pole, and visiting all the children in the world in one night to deliver presents.

Our issue does not come with the imagination and make-believe. Imagination and make-believe are a God-given gift to enjoy. What we are concerned about is lying to our kids. Some people may feel this is "over the top."  But we want to teach our children that they can trust us because we will tell them the truth. And we also expect them to always tell us the truth. "Since we also teach our children that Jesus is a real person who did perform real miracles, our fear is that if we teach them fanciful, make-believe stories as truth, it could erode confidence in our truthfulness where it really matters. So, we will distinguish between lies, secrets, surprises, and pretend for our kids. We will ask them not to tell lies or keep secrets, but will teach them that some surprises (like gift-giving) and pretending (like dressing up) can be fun and should be encouraged" (Panelists Blog). 

(Mommy and Mekonen visiting Santa at Moe's restaurant. Mekonen would not go near him without me. I plopped him on his lap and Daddy took a quick picture before Meko wigged out. Poor little guy).
So we want our children to understand that Santa Claus is a mix of real and make-believe. Here are some parts of the real story of Nicholas. 
  • Some ancient records reveal that Nicholas was born to a wealthy family and was raised a devout Christian. His parents died tragically when he was young and he spent much of his wealth taking care of the poor which involved giving gifts to children and sometimes filling stockings of presents for them. One record shares that he helped save three sisters from a life of prostitution by paying their wedding dowry that their family was too poor to pay. 
  • He was a Christian leader who became the Bishop of the port city Myra that the apostle Paul visited in the book of Acts in the Bible. He also was part of the Council of Nicaea that defended the diety of Jesus Christ in A.D. 325 (I thought that was fascinating. I didn't know that at all!)
  • He was canonized as a saint after he died on December 6, 343 and St. Nicholas' holiday was celebrated by giving gifts. This eventually became synonymous with Christmas since they were celebrated within a few weeks of each other. 
  • Other folklore of the time became entwined with St. Nicholas and is where it is said we got the fanciful stories of going down the chimney, flying reindeer, and delivering presents to all the children of the world in one night.

"Saint Nick was a wonderful man who loved and served Jesus faithfully. So, we gladly include him in our Christmas traditions to remind us of what it looks like for someone to live a life of devotion to Jesus as God." (Panelists Blog). We like the idea of being able to be honest and fun and provide great Christmas celebrations for our children. 

(Ideas written were summarized from an article on the "On Faith Panelists Blog")


Christmas Cookie Fun

We've had some Christmas cookie fun here the last couple weeks. It takes three times as long to make cookies with an almost two year old "helping" but it's way more fun! We made gingerbread cookies and sugar cookies!

Gingerbread Cookies
I don't know exactly why I made these. I have never eaten gingerbread cookies that I like. But oh well. It was fun to make and Jon ate them at least. :) 

Macy was very interested. I also caught Mekonen with his face on the table biting the dough several times. Good thing it was just us eating them! 

Mmmm... licking the spoon. 

Anxiously awaiting the "cookies!!!!" as he kept yelling. 

And now for a taste!!! He loved them. 

Sugar Cookies!
These are my mom's famous sugar cookies. I know you are probably thinking a sugar cookie is a sugar cookie right? But no. I have never had another sugar cookie from anyone or anywhere that I have liked more than my mom's. There's no secret ingredient or anything, they just always come out tasting much better. And you can't beat homemade frosting on top either. We made these every single Christmas as kids, with the same cookie cutters, and the same red, green, and blue frosting. We never strayed from that. We would rather our traditional cookies than even decorating them with candies and all sorts of colored things. 

This picture kills me. 

Meko trying to figure out the rolling the pin. (Which by the way I bought that morning. After 5 years of marriage I finally just went and got one. Every time I have needed one I didn't have time to go get one and ended up rolling things out with cans of soup! The rolling pin my friends, is much easier!) 

Getting ready to decorate. I will admit, this part was done during naptime. There's no way I was letting Meko get his hands on this stuff. I can just see it now.... mounds of sprinkles all over the floor, and frosting who knows where! Next year buddy. 

But he sure did love waking up to this! And then he yelled more of, "Cookies!!!!"

Cookie Tip: Did you know that putting a piece of bread in the container you store cookies in keeps them soft? Try it! It works great!


Christmas Fun!

It's been so much fun enjoying this Christmas season with Mekonen. Last year he was completely clueless! This year, he is clueless, but not as much. He is getting more and more of it, which is fun! Here's what we've been up to at the Oren house!

Decorating the Christmas tree! And yes, it's a fake one this year, borrowed from some awesome friends. First time in my life ever to have a fake tree! I wouldn't say I'm "happy" about it, but it is definitely much less work. Indiana tree farms are horrible and expensive. Mekonen looks very concerned putting that gingerbread man on the tree.  

Daddy and Meko hanging ornaments. Mekonen called them "ormets"

Awww...Meko's chubby hand print from last year.

The finished product! 

Mekonen's advent calendar. When you open the little door each day you get a piece of chocolate. Mekonen goes up to this calendar multiple times a day pointing and saying, "Cookie!" (Everything sweet these days is a cookie). Sorry buddy, only door gets opened a day!

Here's a tradition we started with Mekonen this year. Starting Thanksgiving night we read a Christmas story before nap and bedtime instead of a regular storybook. He loves it. Every time we get a book he says, "Baby Jesus" and "Missmas!" When he gets a little older, I will write out all the titles on separate pieces of paper and put them in a little jar. Then whatever Christmas story he picks out we will read. 
Here is our stash for this year! 

Our kitchen is separate from our living and dining room area, so when I am in there, Mekonen insists on being right there too. He usually drags multiple toys in to play with on the floor. I got him these snowman cling-ons for the fridge and he loves them. He calls them "no-men." 

Mekonen's current FAVORITE toy. His little people nativity set. He plays with it everyday, multiple times a day and loves carrying around Baby Jesus. He also kisses every single nativity scene character. It's hilarious. (Notice the toy car that always joins the nativity set).

3 of Meko's new friends... the "no-men." He carries them all over the place, puts them in his high chair and says "eat" and of course, gives them kisses with an emphatic "muah!" (Notice, car or truck ALWAYS in hand). 

Yep, how most things end in our house. A big pile of boyness. 


Christmas Card 2010

Every year, one of my favorite things to do is write up our Christmas letter and order our Christmas cards. This year, I am using Shutterfly's new 2010 holiday collection for our photo cards and guess what, they are free, just for being a blogger! Who doesn't like a little something for free? So if you're a blogger and want in on the holiday freebie, just sign up here! But hurry, registration ends on December 10th! They have every kind of design you could imagine from fun and festive, to classy, and retro.

Shutterfly also has lots of great products! Need an awesome gift for Grandparents? How about a photo book? All Grandparents love pictures of their grandchildren, and if yours are like Mekonen's, they don't take many pictures anymore and don't know what to do with the digital stuff! So do it for them and present them with a gift they will love! Their very own photo book! Or, you can help them ring in the new year with a calendar full of pictures of their grandchildren!

I also found a great product that helps me stay connected with other adoptive families and/or other moms I meet out and about at the museum, the playground, etc. They are social personalized calling cards. It's kind of like a business card but has your name on it, your kids names, your contact info, your blog, and anything else you'd like someone to know. I met a mom one day downtown with a little Ethiopian boy they adopted and right away we had a common bond. Instead of sifting around in her purse to give me her contact info so our boys can have a play date, and we can get to know each other, she handed me a personalized calling card. Very fun idea!

So there ya have it! My shameless plug for Shutterfly! You should try it! You'll have to wait to see our 2010 Christmas card, but until then, I will leave you with a bit of Christmas cheer from my boy.


6 Months!!

Another month in the pregnancy has flown by! Wow. Crazy. It feels like I have a long way to go, but I'm sure once Christmas is over it will fly by!
24 Weeks- 6 Months!

A few little tidbits from the last several weeks. 

  • Mekonen "knows" (obviously doesn't understand though) that there's a baby in Mommy's belly. Whenever someone mentions the baby in my belly he will come over to my stomach and grab it and say repeatedly, "open, open." 
  • I felt the baby move for the first time on November 3rd (19 1/2 weeks).
  • Jon could feel the baby move for the time on November 15th (21 weeks). 
  • No strange cravings this month. Wanting to eat a lot, but can't fit very much in there. It feels like my stomach will bust open when I eat a meal (I already can't fit my normal size meal in there it seems). 
  • We can see the baby moving from the outside. That is crazy! Looks like an alien is hanging out in there (22-23 weeks). 
  • I gained less than a pound between my last 4 week appointment. But don't worry, I think Thanksgiving more than made up for it! 
  • Most people can now tell I am sportin' a baby belly. 
  • I still feel like it's a boy, but then when I open the baby name books I instinctively go to the girl name section. ;) 
Me in my "hot" maternity jeans. Haha. 



It's been about an hour and a half since I've sat down and tried accomplishing some grad. school work, but I just can't.  I am extremely, extremely distracted and have been for days. The plight of the orphan plagues my thoughts, keeps me up at night, and disturbs those normal fuzzy holiday season feelings. I spent much of Thanksgiving thinking about Mekonen's birth parents, his story, their story, our story and I have such a hard time finding a place for it inside myself. It hurts too much to even go there. I find my thoughts going there and I instinctively pull back, desperately grabbing for anything to take the thought away, to make it all disappear. But it doesn't. I sat and cried for my son's birth parents today. I cried for my son today. I cried for all the kids waiting for families. I cried for those kids waiting, wondering if they will ever be "chosen."  
We are extremely convicted by the truth that the Gospel is tied to adoption. It is. You can't argue it. You can't debate it. You can't put it into the box of "God's will" or "not God's will." You just can't.

But while so many Christians sit around and chat about the common phrases of "God's will," "His timing," and the like, millions of children sit... and wait, and wait. Especially the older children, those children who are less likely to ever be welcomed into a family. Those children who are less likely to ever be "chosen." A friend of mine, Wendy, in our agency stated it perfectly after her court visit for her daughter in Ethiopia.
These kids are wonderful, sweet, caring, funny, helpful and the list goes on...but the thing they long to hear most is that they were "chosen".  Have you ever thought about the ones that continue to get left behind and how devastating it must be for them......time ....after time.... after time....to be the one NOT chosen??  This destroys their sense of self worth, slowly over time......what's wrong with me?.....why wasn't I the one that the family "picked"?  I must be not good enough to be loved by a Mom and a Dad, maybe that's why I'm here and not with my birth family.....
I am continually frustrated with the non-existent pedestal that some choose to place us on because "we adopted." We hear over and over how someone would love to adopt, and oh how wonderful it is that we gave a child a home and saying, "You guys are incredible." But we are not. We are not super heroes, we are not extra-ordinary people. We are not extra-spiritual, and we do not experience any more love and grace in our lives than the next Christian. We are surrounded by incredibly supportive and passionate family and friends who understand the joy of adoption. We simply just said "yes." That's it. It was that simple. God did not "make" Jon and me for adoption. He simply chose us first, and in His choosing, we said yes. 

Adoption can't be sought merely for compassion's sake or for a massive tug on your heart strings, or because you think it will be all rainbows and unicorns, because it's not. It's more than that. My mind replays the words "chosen,"  and being "bought with a price" in relation to Jesus choosing me!

It certainly wasn't convenient for Him- He left a perfect heaven where he was perfectly adored to come after me, to choose me. 
It certainly was costly- it cost Him everything! It cost Him His life. 
It certainly is difficult- I am sinful. I am stubborn. I often refuse His love. I often think I know better than Him. I often neglect His perfect and sovereign wisdom in my life. 
But still... he chose me and would choose me again in a heartbeat. I am His. I have been CHOSEN