As a mom to a two-year old, I don't have many Christmas traditions in place yet. So as I've watched friends' Instagram and Facebook feeds over the last week, I've taken special note of the cute traditions that my friends participate in with their families. I've seen a lot of elves on shelves and Christmas family movie nights, gingerbread men decorating and Christmas crafts. I've noticed a trend about getting new pajamas, whether it's for the night the family decorates the tree or planned for Christmas eve.
Yet, I've also noticed criticism about these traditions. Contentious comments on posts, snide remarks whispered under someone's breath at an elaborate Christmas party. A friend posted on her FB wall that she gets a lot of flack for doing the Elf on the Shelf daily.
I'll admit, doing anything elaborately isn't my style or in my comfort zone, but I feel like there's something more at play here than personal style in these comments and criticisms. There's nothing inherently wrong in Christmas traditions, is there? LDS Living recently posted an article about "What Prophets Have Said About Santa Clause." I enjoyed hearing from different prophets and general authorities about their feelings on what is arguably the biggest Christmas tradition of all in old Saint Nick. And they're all good.
Prophets consistently ask us to remember the real reason for Christmas, but they don't tell us we must limit our gifts to three per child because "that's how many the Savior received" (which is a very sweet, if inaccurate idea for parents who choose to go this route). They don't say that if we're going to give stockings, we must do so only if we relate the symbolism of the stocking back to the shepherds who first found the Christ child (or however those symbols work).
They tell us,
"As we seek Christ, as we find Him, as we follow Him, we shall have the Christmas spirit, not for one fleeting day each year, but as a companion always. We shall learn to forget ourselves. We shall turn our thoughts to the greater benefit of others" (Thomas S. Monson, "In Search of the Christmas Spirit," Ensign, Dec 1987, 3).And: