Every so often you come across a bit of writing, a phrase, or simply a visual image that makes your head turn. What might be considered by some a saying uttered with little thought for deeper meaning, or a book written that does not fall into the category of longwinded scholarly tomes that offer more footnotes than actual text itself, to you may simply become the beginning of a paradigm shift. What marks a true paradigm shift - versus simply noting that there is a great idea out there somewhere worth taking another look at when your busy schedule permits - is the fact that the new paradigm will invade your thinking and replaces your old mode of seeing things with a new one. Yet in addition to offering you a new methodology for perceiving that which is around you, the hallmark of a true paradigm shift also demands that it is better - not marginally so, but decisively!
Such a paradigm shift happened to yours truly when reading Glenn Norfleet's YOUR CHILD AND SANTA. Lest you heave a deep sigh and move on, figuring that this is just another book review (for cripes sake), stick with me. Trust me; you'll be glad you did.Much has been written about Christmas
There is no other holiday in existence that has spawned so many books, leaflets, stories, and billboards as Christmas. The motion picture industry has revisited the story of the traditional Christmas celebration and put its own spin on it. We have been regaled with a green Grinch, an unwilling Santa who must marry to fulfill the other Santa Clause, a Pumpkin King who would kidnap Santa, and a host of other characters, story lines, and ideas that are quite often brilliant, and at the very least entertaining.
Sure, they do precious little to actually capture the true meaning of Christmas, but for those looking for that, there is always 34th Street and other venues, correct? Add to this the plethora of Christian writings, and you can be sure that whether secular progressive or traditional conservative, Christmas has something to offer to you as well! Like most others, I have written at length on the subject. In Contemplating Your Birth we took a look at the way God picked just the right family for Jesus to be born into and then used these insights to think about our own families; the article entitled Keeping Christ in Christmas…While Decorating a Tree discussed the notable absence of Christmas celebrations in the Bible, while reconciling our need to mark this great event with trappings some have deemed pagan; Christian Parenting Encourages You To Ask What You Can Do For Your Faith yielded any Christmas considerations of buying and giving in favor of Operation Gratitude, an organization that picks up where the government leaves off and supplies our soldiers who are spending holidays away from friends and family with thoughtful care packets that contain useful gifts as well as simply enjoyable reminders that someone at home does, indeed, care; yet it was the article To Santa or Not To Santa which perhaps was closest to my heart and mind: it dealt with incorporating, or choosing not to invite into your home and child's belief system, the image of the red-clad, gastrically challenged man who would sweep down the chimney and bring gifts. It was this article which sparked some controversy but also inspired some parents to help them transition from following the herd to boldly going out and creating their own Christmas traditions and sensibilities, feeling free to incorporate Santa Claus as little or as much as they felt comfortable doing.Yet it took a wise man to make sense of the dilemma.
Given leave to do so, a lot more will probably be said and written about Christmas and Santa Claus, but if you really want to take a look at the holiday, the traditions, the truth of its origin, and find a neat way of tying it all together in a spiritually sound, easy to apply package that will make your secular in-laws happy while also satisfying your hyper-spiritually-correct friends who frown on even the hint of a reindeer cookie in your living room during Christmas time, then YOUR CHILD AND SANTA by Glenn Norfleet is the book you will want to read.
In an unassuming 100 pages Mr. Norfleet succeeds in pointing out the simple truths behind the celebration and the ways in which beautiful traditions and spirituality can coexist without struggle. Yes, you can have your reindeer cookie and eat it, too!
As a matter of fact, the author encourages you to take a good look at the tradition of Santa Claus - not the big bellied man invented by an eager and ingenious commercial artist - as he has lived on for hundreds of years. Go back to the man who sparked the tradition and did so in the name of Jesus Christ (Christ, Christmas, you realize where I'm going with this).
Learn how you can incorporate Santa Claus on your terms while actually going back and resurrecting some long forgotten traditions that have been pushed by the wayside, such as the beautiful traditions surrounding the persona of Saint Nicholas and the nuns who used to adopt his customs.
Forget about silly anagrams that seek to equate "Satan" with "Santa" simply by the moving of a few letters; instead, deepen your spiritual convictions about the love and generosity that preceded the birth of the Christ, and then take into account his life and message. Fast forward to the acts of selfless and anonymous giving the Christ inspired in others, and use the lives lived by those who went before us to glorify the Christ and celebrate that which he brought into the world. Amazingly, Glenn Norfleet is able to package all this into just 100 pages.Just who is this Glenn Norfleet?
He is not a philosopher, professor of theology, or highfaluting persona firmly ensconced in the ivory tower of academia. Furthermore, he is not a theorist devoid of human interaction. Instead, he is a man who wishes to help you "make the Santa experience a force for good, and a faith builder, in your child's life." He does not have an axe to grind or the lack of a Daisy Red Ryder B-B gun to overcome. Instead, he got the B-B gun, did not shoot out his eye, but over time also came to have a strong faith in God.
Glenn Norfleet was a dad who sought to reconcile the message of the true Christmas with the persona of Santa and had mixed results to show for it. Fast forwarding to his retirement, he was now a grandfather who found he was grappling with the same question about how to incorporate Santa Claus into Christmas while not usurping Christ's place in the holiday. It was then that epiphany struck and Mr. Norfleet came to realize that the two concepts of Christmas were not mutually exclusive, but when handled and applied correctly, the commercial Santa could very well help a child find its way to the real reason for the season: Jesus Christ!
In a simple to apply nine-step process, Glenn Norfleet will help you, the Christian parent, to make Jesus Christ the focal point of Christmas while enjoying reindeer cookies, jolly Saint Nick, and not seeing red when the mall Santa appears on television. His suggestions are so easy to apply that I found myself close to wanting to bang my head on the table repeatedly in frustration since I, too, had agonized over ways to make the different modes of celebration gel with my own offspring.
I guess the only question Mr. Norfleet cannot answer is simply: "Where have you been all our lives?" Thank you for making it so easy to keep our homes spiritual and for once again filling them with beautiful Christmas tradition that have almost been forgotten but which serve to point our hearts and minds back to where they belong: a stable and a bed of straw some 2,007 years ago. Thank you!I want one, too!
Glenn Norfleet's book YOUR CHILD AND SANTA is published by Tate Publishing and may be purchased either via their website at www.tatepublishing.com or through any bookseller. The ISBN is 1-5988672-3-7.
I guess I could have entitled this article "Glenn Norfleet is a Genius," but would you have really read on had I done so? In closing, please do not limit yourself to trite and true celebrations that have lost their luster years ago but dare to explore the deeper meaning of Christmas and how its spiritual message is still applicable today. Who knows what it will inspire you to do?