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Stomach Ills

Stomach Ills

I think Bella might have a bit of a stomach bug. She’s been having what I think is diarrhea since Monday morning (before we went to the doctor). Where her average dirty diaper was once a day or even once every two days, the past few days it’s been five or six a day. Her poor little bottom is so red and sore.

I think it’s a bug rather than something she ate because Dom’s been feeling a bit under the weather since Sunday afternoon. He though it was just a reaction to the uber-spicy chili I made (I accidentally replaced the chili powder with cayenne pepper. Oops!). But now I’m not so sure. I’m not feeling 100% myself.

I guess tomorrow I’ll call the doctor. Though I doubt he’ll be able to do anything more for her.

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16 comments
  • I really like what you’re saying about Aslan, but I disagree with your saying that Santa (the common image of him) can serve the same purpose.  Why? Most of the atheists I’ve talked to hate a God who watches everyone’s smallest mov and erwards those who hypocritically simper in order to earn his favor, and punishes those who do not.  That God—whom I do not recognize—has a mirror image in the Santa we see around us, the one who “sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake.  He’s knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness’ sake!”  That’s exactly the action of the God they hate, and the self-servong hypocrisy of the Christians they detest.  Neither the God nor the Christians are the real thing, but that’s the only God non-Christians will be led to by the Coca-Cola Santa Claus.  If we could change the image of Santa Claus, so that he’s actually generous rather than serving as law-enforcement, we might get the reaction you’re talking about.  But I don’t see that happening with Santa as he is commonly portrayed.

  • Kate, I understand where you’re coming from. And I will concede that the most common secular image of Santa makes it much harder for him to evangelize the culture than for Aslan to do the same. (Although the recent movie rather watered down Aslan, come to think of it. Still, one can continue to have recourse to the books.)

    I guess where I differ from you is a matter of degree rather than kind. I’ll acknowledge that Santa has been watered down and that for some the drink is to weak to be palatable. But I refuse to believe than Santa has been completely bankrupted, and is absolutely devoid of all positive value. I’ll admit that some images of Santa are pretty much hollow shells. Just hearing the torch songs “Santa baby” and “I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus” makes me want to be violently ill. And I’m not terribly fond of the “naughty or nice” list checker that you cite.Though I understand where he comes from, I think it wrong for parents to use Santa as either a bribe or a punishment. In fact, I’m not a huge fan of the carrot and stick method of parenting period, not just at Christmas time. Like I said, I think Santa is much more valuable in the versions of the story where he brings toys to everyone. 

    But the thing is that Santa isn’t monolithic. In the popular culture there isn’t just one image of Santa that everyone refers to. There are hundreds. Some of them better, some of them worse than others. But those better ones are out there. And they are the ones that people who love Santa cling to.

    One example, for me, is that classic movie you can still find repeated at Christmas time, Miracle on 34th Street. A thoroughly secular movie. But Santa there represents childish faith, generosity and wonder. One of my favorite scenes in any movie is when the postal workers bring bag after bag of mail into the courtroom. Yes, Virginia, Santa Claus is real because the spirit of Santa lives on in the heart of every mother who stays up late to put presents under the tree, of every father who hates the mall but spends hours there to find the perfect gift. I’m not talking about conspicuous consumption. I’m talking about the joy of a parent seeing a child’s face light up when they see presents laid out under the tree, where there were none the night before and unwrapping the thing that they hoped beyond hope to find.And for many people, that’s what Santa represents. The joy of giving when the recipient doesn’t know it came from you. (Isn’t that why we call it “Secret Santa”?) 

    I feel rather like Abraham pleading with God over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. If I can find even one atheist or unchurched Christian swayed by the power of Santa, would you spare him the fate of being discarded as utterly irredeemable? I know Santa can never have meaning for you, and for many others. But can you concede that for some he still does represent something wonderful, magical, something approaching the true meaning of Christmas?

    In fact, I would argue that the very prevalence of Santa as an icon in the popular culture is evidence that he hasn’t quite lost all meaning. If Santa only means “gimmee, gimmee”, then why do so many well-intentioned parents line their children up to get photos taken on Santa’s lap? I can’t bring myself to believe they are all of them, without exception, sell-outs to the secular, materialist culture. Because I know many of them, my parents were them, my in-laws are them. I read their blogs, I overhear them talking in the line at the mall. They believe in Santa. They believe in the Santa that represents generosity and love and wonder. Ergo Santa still has that meaning.

    I will only give in and acknowledge that Santa can’t be saved when there is not one person left who still understands the true meaning of a Santa.

    I’m sorry for all those people for whom that meaning is lost and cannot be recovered. I am sorry for those people who feel a need to separate Santa from St Nicholas and from their celebrations of Christmas. Because something has been stolen from them. They are the victims. I’m not condemning you. I understand where you’re coming from. Really I do. But I don’t share your point of view. To me Santa still has meaning.  And, please, don’t insist that just because Santa doesn’t mean that for you, he must therefore not mean it for anyone.

  • Hey Melanie,

    I just wanted to comment on a couple of things you said:

    “In the popular culture there isn’t just one image of Santa that everyone refers to. There are hundreds. Some of them better, some of them worse than others. But those better ones are out there. And they are the ones that people who love Santa cling to.”

    I agree with what you said, but then what about the bad ones? To what do those lead? Is any directive towards Christ still in those? And for non-Christians or anti-Christians, what authority is there to direct them away from bad ones and toward good ones? Further, what safeguards are there to keep even good Christians from being dazzled and distracted by secularism and slipping into the pit of a bad Santa? I’m certainly not saying there aren’t good images of Santa and there aren’t good people who benefit from belief in him, but I have to wonder about the others.

    I certainly respect that Santa has meaning for you, a good meaning, and the same meaning for others. But if you are going to compare Aslan to Santa, I have to wonder if you have ever heard of anyone finding the image of Aslan to lead them astray rather than to Christ? In other words, if you are going to compare the two, I’ve heard testimonies of people both being directed toward Christ and away from Christ because of different versions of Santa. Have you heard testimonies of people both being directed towards Christ and away from Christ by different the same understandings of Aslan? While the film industry still has many opportunities to corrupt and completely secularize Aslan, I’m hoping that, watered down though he may be and become, he will still retain his Christ-likeness.

    I guess I’m just not sure I see the parallel since I see how Santa can be a stumbling block to some, but I don’t see how Aslan or LOTR can or has been to anyone.

    I hope I made sense. Sorry if I babbled.
    Katherine

  • Melanie—

    I’ll admit that there are good Santa images.  But I find them only rarely, whereas I very commonly find good St. Nicholas images.  I’m not saying “Santa is evil and no one should have him!”  I’m just saying that certain images of him may, in fact, be harmful, and that people who are going to encourage belief in him should be careful as to what image they’re encouraging.  Which I think you’re doing, so it’s all good.

    The question remains, however, of what to do with—and how to counteract—the bad images of Santa out there.

    I’m not insisting that Santa can’t have meaning for you.  But I’m not a victim, nor was anything ever stolen from me.

  • Well, nothing like plunging into an already lengthy discussion…  Melanie, you love books so perhaps you are familiar with the Christmas story in The Little House on the Prairie.  How about the Christmas story in The Good Master (Kate Seredy)?  What those stories share is the recognition of the child’s fantasy and the adult love that is creating something wonderful.  In the Little House book, Mr. Edwards tells the chidlren that he met Santa Claus in town and offered to bring gifts to the children since Santa couldn’t get there.  (I think the river was in flood or something.)  Stories like this let a child believe but also let him/her move to another level when the time comes.  I think there would be less of a shock with stories like this in a child’s background.

  • I’ll admit that Aslan is much less problematic than Aslan. The marketing goons haven’t got their grubby paws into Aslan yet. Thank goodness Lewis’ estate has kept pretty tight rein on that. So far we aren’t seeing Aslan dolls in Happy Meals or Aslan Halloween costumes. We’ll see what happens when subsequent movies come out. I hope the Lewis estate will continue to hold out against the lure of merchandising. Because if they don’t, I know we’ll be headed down that path.

    I’ve seen much more problematic material with the marketing associated with The Lord of the Rings. Once at Borders or Barnes and Noble I saw a package of LOTR tarot cards. Poor JRR would be absolutely appalled.

    I have seen people absorbed into LOTR to what I consider to be an unhealthy degree. And it does trouble me. Unfortunately Tolkien’s popular work has inspired many copycats who only ape the accidental features of his imaginative universe. Though I have found that the copycats are ultimately unsatisfying. They lack the truth that Tolkien’s story embodies.

    I can certainly see how too much attachment to any of them, though, Aslan, Narnia, Middle Earth, elves, Santa Claus, can be detrimental. But isn’t that indeed the very nature of sin: inordinate attachment to things that are good in themselves? Wine is good, drunkeness bad; food is good, gluttony bad.

    Or, a more apt parallel: what about scholcky images of the Virgin Mary? What about images of the saints used in Santaria and voodoo? In the Protestant reformation they decided that Mary was dangerous because inordinate attachment to her seemed to lead people away from her son. And there are people who get so caught up in Marian apparitions and mystical visions that it’s dangerous.

    Satan loves to attack us through that which is good. The more closely it reflects the love of God, the more he whittles away at it. The good things God has created and the good works of man, including the works of the imagination, can lead us toward God, or become instruments of our downfall.

    (Just look at sedevacantist traditionalists. With some of them the mass itself has served as a wedge to divide them from the Church! If the mass isn’t safe, what is?)

    And that’s why I’m not going to write Santa off. For all the bad he might do, there’s a world of good he does as well. He inspires people to enter hospital wards dressed in silly costumes giving toys to sick kids at Christmas. With the growing distrust of anything religious in the public square, Santa is seen by some anti-religion freaks as safe. He smuggles in the spirit of Christmas to places where the Christ child is not allowed to show his face. I like to think of him as a Christmas commando.

    As to how to counteract bad images. Well, I guess the same question applies to how do you deal with all the bad images of Christ out there, the people who think that Christ is all about hellfire and damnation? You set a good example, you speak the truth when you can. You become a beacon set on a hill.

    All I can control is what goes on in my own home, how I raise my children, how I make my home a domestic church. For me that means having Santa, but tying him firmly to Saint Nicholas. I will tell Bella that they are the same person and emphasize the Catholic aspects of his figure. (I recently saw some blogger, somewhere mention a book about how St. Nicholas became Santa Claus, I forget the title. That looks like it might be a good thing to add to the library.) I will tell her that Santa gives because he wants to be like Christ and that gift giving is associated with birthdays and we are celebrating Jesus’ birthday.

    I will limit the number of gifts he brings and the number of gifts in general that are given.

    Here I like Melissa Wiley’s suggested rule of four: something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. Though I think I’d have a hard time stopping at one book… that might bend the rule a bit. smile

    As far as the accretions to the legend, the reindeer and the North Pole, etc., they don’t really bother me. If you read medieval hagiography at all you see that saints develop all sorts of accretions that are probably not very accurate and are certainly not historically verifiable. Take St. Francis, for example. There are all sorts of fabulous legends about him. Did he really stop a wolf? Did he really preach to birds?  I’m not going to try to sort through them to determine which are “real”. Or one of my patrons, St Christina the astonishing. Go read her story, she’s a doozy.

    The magical reindeer who fly were meant to explain how Santa gets everywhere in one night. The chimney, how he gets into the house. The North Pole, where does he live and why we can’t take a trip to go visit him and present our lists in person. Parents can be pretty creative when it comes to elaborating details and answering tough questions.

    Above all, I don’t think we should cede the battle. Santa is ours, he’s Catholic and I’m not going to give him up to the secular materialists without a fight.

    Kate, I know you’re not a victim. It wasn’t aimed at any particular person. I was just having a flight of fancy. If I were magically transported into someone else’s life (you know, like Quantum Leap) and that person had been deprived of Santa, had him ruined when they were a child so there was no magic, only pain in the image. If that happened to me, I’d feel cheated. I’d feel like Santa had been stolen from me. That’s all I mean. I can’t help feeling that way. Santa is a treasured part of my past and the idea of his being gone or spoiled hurts. That’s why I am writing at such ridiculous lengths and spending so much passion and energy on the topic. I’m a foolish crusader.

  • Jane,

    It’s been a long time since I read Little House, but I vaguely recall that episode. I think your idea is great. It’s true, books feed children’s imaginative life and stories can help with difficult transitions.

    I’ve been thinking about my own transition and wondering why it was not the traumatic shock or loss of faith some people describe. Part of it, I think was my parents respected my imaginative life and let me grow out of Santa in my own time and didn’t force me to grow up before I was ready.

    I just read a post on the Santa debate (it’s going around the blogosphere like a meme.) blog that described why one family gave up Santa. Now, I don’t want to judge anyone else’s parenting practices. I’m trying really hard to phrase this just right… but their practice was to tell the kids when they hit a certain age that Santa was just mom and dad. My impression was that the daughter wasn’t ready to let go of the fantasy. She tried argument after argument to “prove” her parents were could not have been Santa. She was mad at them.

    I wonder what might have happened if they had waited until she was ready to let him go. My own practice will be to wait until Bella comes and asks if Santa is real. Then, I’ll ask her what she thinks.

    If she says that she thinks he’s real and lists her arguments for his realness, I’ll know it is too early to shatter her illusions. But if she says that she thinks it’s really mom and dad and explains her reasoning, I won’t contradict that, either.

    To illustrate, I’ll recount what I can recall of my own discovery of the truth. For me it was the m&m bag in the trash. I knew we hadn’t had m&ms; in the house. I knew Santa had brought them, set them out in a pretty candy bowl he’d also provided. I’m not sure why the fact that the bag was in our kitchen trash bag should have been the proof I needed to confirm the rumors I’d doubtless heard at school. But for some reason, I was pretty sure that mom and dad had left the candy and not Santa.

    I let go of the fantasy on my own terms. And then I enjoyed keeping it alive for my siblings for years after. I later helped the Easter Bunny hide eggs. Thus I know from experience how parents feel when setting up the gifts from a magical person. Maybe that’s part of why I want to do it for my own children.

    I do recall that the answer to the question of whether Santa in the mall is real was that Santa has helpers. And that answer helps make the transition easier. If you acknowledge that not all people in Santa suits are Santa, then you allow the child to fill in for himself how many of the occurances are real and how many are helpers. He can grow into an awareness that mom and dad may be another set of helpers. He can begin to understand that the true meaning of Santa is the generosity   he shows and that generosity can be done in Santa’s name.

    Perhaps the Secret Santa game at school also helped with this. The experience of leaving gifts for a classmate and wondering which classmate was my “Santa”. If you’ve been Santa for someone else, then it’s harder to be angry at the person leaving the gifts.

    Another approach one could take would be Danielle Bean’s. She tells the kids both that the gifts come from Santa and that Santa is mom and dad. Not sure how that works, not really my cup of tea. But it’s another approach.

    Seemingly it results in kids who can live with one foot in wonder and one in the real world:
    “But despite not believing, I still have �magical� memories of my childhood Christmases. I still enjoyed pretending about Santa�even leaving him a note, cookies and milk, and a carrot for Rudolph. The fact that I knew it was actually my father who ate the cookies, my mother who shopped for the toys, and the two of them who stayed up late wrapping our presents only made me feel loved and secure. Not cheated.”
    and:

    �I know Santa isn�t real,� he [her brother] said, �But how he does he get into the house?�

    I guess that’s really the goal we have as parents, isn’t it? To make our kids feel loved and secure, to foster their sense of wonder, to keep them from feeling cheated. And most of the time we do what our parents did, if that’s how we felt. Or we react against what our parents did, if we felt they didn’t do it right. Such is parenting. And we may not know if we got it right or wrong until it blows up in our face. Or until we see what choices our children make when they become parents.

  • “The Santa myth can be in our secular world a sort of pre-gospel.”

    I think this is the heart of your message, and I agree.  As someone who grew up with Santa, but absolutely no religion in Christmas, I can say that in my experience, Santa was indeed pre-Gospel.  Santa was unconditional love (because sometimes I was bad, but I never got a lump of coal …. grin)  and he was magic.

    God is the ultimate unconditional love and the True Magic.  Somewhere, deep down, the child who loved Santa was yearning for Christ.

  • Melanie,

    One question I would pursue in discussion further:

    Granted a parent can control how a subject is treated within their own home, but what about outside their home? I’m not arguing absolutely in either direction, but I was told Santa didn’t exist OUTSIDE my home. Granted, it was at school and you and I plan on homeschooling, but it didn’t have to be at school. And I don’t just mean Santa, obviously other children or adults or advertisements or whatever can challenge our children and what we teach them or what we want them to know or believe.

    I remember driving in a part of Dallas seeing a billboard with big letters advertising “CONDOMS TO GO.” Now I certainly am glad I won’t be driving near there with Cecilia any time soon. Today on the plane we sat in front of two young men with mouths so filthy I wished I had brought bars of soap.

    It is easier to form a child well in the faith and in Truth only in the home, but the world outside the home will present every challenge including the bad images and while adults may be able to combat them with defenses, children are young enough to be easily confused and hurt. Today’s world has become especially dangerous for children as secularism tries to either erase or pervert any truth or good thing we teach our children.

    In short, how would a parent prevent the bad images from outside the home from negatively impacting their children while trying to maintain an alternate but good image within the home? As you said, secular society has abducted Santa and run with him as a materialistic icon of selfish indulgence and he is everywhere in this fashion.

    I tried to be clear – sorry if I wasn’t. If not, let me know. I had interruptions of a grumpy but cute little Cecilia.

    Katherine

  • Katherine,

    I think you already gave what I consider to be the largest part of the equation: homeschooling. One of the key tasks for the homeschooling parent is the formation of the child’s imagination. Feed their hungry minds with good, healthy images, with well-written literature (Charlotte Mason refers to “living books” and I rather like that term). Give them a taste for imaginative works that nourish them and a large part of your task will be done for you because the shallow imitations will have no savour. Control her access to television and movies while she is very young and impressionable. And when she does come across images that you consider unhealthy tell her so and why (at an age-appropriate level, of course.

    You can compare it to the way you develop healthy eating habits. If you start a child off with sweets and white bread and salty foods, she’ll develop a taste for them and will turn up her nose at broccoli and whole grains. A conscientious mother sets before her child healthy, well-balanced meals, gives her whole grain breads and sauces without too much salt, desserts without too much sugar (or, if you are of the more extreme persuasion, witholding sugar altogether.) and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. She trains her child’s tastes. Not forcing her to clean her plate if a certain dish isn’t to her liking, but certainly requiring that she try everything once and try it again at a later time as well to see if her tastes have changed.

    Long before homeschooling was on my radar I was composing lists of books my children would have to read. Yes, that really did occupy me for unbelievably long stretches, I think I was destined to homeschool. Now, my lists might have changed a bit, but I’m still composing them. Isabella’s wish list on Amazon is longer than mine. And she’s already got a small bookcase stuffed with books! I think reading aloud is the core of a good education. In part because a child can hear and understand works which are well above their reading level. And in part because (as came up in some Harry Potter discussions previously) reading aloud can allow a parent to either edit out material inappropriate for a child’s level of understanding or to initiate discussions of troublesome passages.

    If you develop a habit of dialoguing with a child about troublesome images, they will learn how to deal with them. For example, I recall my 3 year old niece suddenly declaring in the middle of dinner: The Beast is not nice! She repeated it several times throughout the meal. Obviously, he;d troubled her and she was working it out in her mind and seeking affirmation of her judgment. Also, obviously, my sister in law hadn’t just plopped the girls down in front of the video and gone about her business. She was there to discuss the images that scared the girls and to guide them through the process of talking about their reactions.

    My mom used to do that with us. We’d be watching a movie and she’d say “I don’t think they needed to use that kind of language” or “That scene was too violent”. When I was older I’d hear her voice making those comments. I’d internalized that dialogue and it became a model for how I dealt with problematic elements in movies.

    I also see it in my nephew who is 13. He’s been trained that there is bad stuff out there, and knows how to recognize it. He’s been taught about custody of the eyes, how the world treats women and why that’s inappropriate. When he comes across sexually suggestive material, he brings it up with his dad or a teacher. (And he found the Lady in Perelandra to be problematic, sometimes I think he might be oversensitive.) He knows that other boys will not share his values and that knowledge and having his dad there to discuss issues as they arise gives him the strength to avoid temptation. Family rosary, frequent confession, a good selection of literature all help as well. The main thing is that education is about the formation of habits. You encourage the good habits and discourage the bad.

    If you promote a Santa who is generous and selfless, you discuss the story of St. Nicholas who left money for girls who were too poor to marry, you don’t give too many gifts, you encourage charity and good works, and if you discuss those aspects of the secular Santa that you find disturbing and explain why they are not good, then I think kids will be ok.

    I know what you mean about the terrible billboards and the people with foul mouths. They always bugged me and now that I’m a mom, they really disturb me. The other thing that gets me are all the bumper stickers with profanity. I worry about that with kids who are starting to read and eager to sound out all the words they come across. I was (and still am) a compulsive reader. I couldn’t let a sign go past without reading it. But I think parents have two things going for us. One, kids’ inherent innocence. A surprising amount of stuff that you notice will completely escape their attention. They don’t know what it means so it’s just so much static. I read or heard recently that we only actually perceive a small fraction of what our eyes see. Which is why it become so easy to ignore that note that’s been on the fridge for two weeks or why you just didn’t see that car turning out of that driveway. Two, kids’ trust in you as absolute authority. (At least until they hit those difficult stages when they test boundaries; but even then it’s your boundaries they are testing.) If you say something is bad, a little child will accept your pronouncement. SHe might ask why and you can give an age appropriate answer. You say, that ad doesn’t treat the woman with respect. That sticker has a bad word. That man shouldn’t have said that, it’s not nice. I’ve been corrected by my nieces when I said I hated something (like anchovies). They said, that’s not a nice word. And at Thanksgiving dinner they told my brother in law not to say “shut up” or even “be quiet”.

    I’m in favor of limiting television. But not eliminating it altogether, that can cause it’s own problem as with my roommate who became a television addict in college because she’d never been allowed to watch it. I think you should watch it with your children and discuss what you see, especially the bad stuff. Give them the tools to understand what they are seeing and why they should disapprove. Though you should also censor it according to their age. At our family gatherings we change the channel when ads for scary movies come on, for example. The little kids just don’t need to have those images in their heads. My mom used to also refused to buy us anything we saw advertised on television. If we begged, she just became more adament. So we learned not to beg. We actually learned a quiet, “I like that” was much more likely to get us something we wanted. But we also learned we didn’t always get what we wanted, that mom and dad weren’t atms, that money wasn’t endless.

    Not sure I’ve completely answered the question. But that’s at least a start. Probably way too long and rambling.

    I hope you have a nice trip. And I hope Cecilia recovers soon from the strains of travelling.

  • Kate,

    I think you’re dead-on. I want to write more about myth and sacraments. But now my brain is a bit fried. I’ll have to come back to it later.

  • Hi, Melanie,

    I came across a reference to your blog on the Happy Catholic blog (I love how Julie brings together so many interesting authors). It really hits home with me today, because I just finished a children’s story about Santa Claus and the true spirit of Christmas. The story was started by our son when he was about 13 or so, and I fleshed it out a bit. On the surface, it’s a story about how the animals of the world learned how to help Santa distribute gifts, thanks to the giving spirit of a young crocodile. But if you look below the surface, it really digs into the topic that you are discussing. What is the role of Santa? Is he really what popular culture says he is? What does the tradition of Santa’s gift giving really mean? How are we participants in that tradition?

    Our children are now (almost) grown, and we all still believe in Santa. While Christmas is and always will be *all* about the Nativity of our Savior, the Santa story adds layers to the Christmas experience. I totally agree with your assessment of the Santa story as a kind of pre-gospel. To me, the Santa story serves to reinforce the power of the Gospel—the secular world *needs* the Gospel and without even realizing it, it draws in Gospel truths, despite all of its protestations.

    Thanks for a wonderful piece! I am looking forward to reading more of your blog.

    Happy day,
    Anne

  • Melanie,

    I completely agree with you on homeschooling, and, lol, I have a list of books I want all my children to read as well and Cecilia has a small bookcase of books too. I’ve been reading her Time for Bed at bedtime but I think she is growing impatient with the same book so I may have to change that soon – which will be tough since I’ve memorized it and having it memorized makes it easier for me when she tries to turn the pages before I’ve finished reading!

    It is refreshing to hear accounts of habits being formed as you described. My youngest cousin is 11 and I am the first of all my cousins to have any children. I have only two nephews and their parents have very different views on parenting than my husband and I do, so it has been a long time since I was around any small child being brought up well.

    We don’t really let Cecilia watch television but we do put on Veggietales videos for her and she loves them. She now always recognizes their theme song, are creative and brightly colored, continually use words like “God,” “friend,” “Bible,” with scriptural stories and, when she can understand enough of what they are saying, they give a good message. (And I figure it can’t hurt for her to think her vegitables are her friends!)

    Since you have had more experience with little children than I have, let me ask you a question. We take Cecilia to daily mass and we don’t let her bring any beverages or food or toys or blankets (we tried but she tried to play peekaboo during mass – eek). The only thing we will let her bring is something to gum/chew on if she is teething. However, she has learned to walk and even having her sit still on the pew let alone be held still in our arms has become quite a challenge. She just wants to run and explore and I can’t blame her – if I’d just learned how to walk, I would want to too. At what point/age can little children learn that Church is a time to be still and quiet? We don’t want to fight her to hold her still if she really is incapable of understanding and doing so.

    Katherine

  • re: Santa

    Again, I see where it can be done well, I simply have very grave reservations about my ability to do Santa well as the only Santa I know is the secular one. St. Nicholas I have no problem with since I didn’t grow up with him at all and I think we quite enjoyed celebrating his feast day this year.

  • Katherine,

    I love Veggie Tales! My nephews and nieces are big fans. Very catchy songs, good messages. Entertaining for the adults as well as the kids, unlike so much children’s entertainment.

    I’m not sure about your question re little ones at mass. I’ll ask my sister-in-law about hers. I know the older girls (5 and 4) are generally pretty good though have problems running after mass. The almost 2 yr old wanders a bit but dad holds him quite a bit. (They also have a newborn, Cecilia, born the day before Thanksgiving.)

    I think doing St Nicholas on his feast day instead of Santa at Christmas is probably a good compromise, especially if you want to avoid too much secularization and given your feelings and history. As she gets older and curious about Santa, perhaps you could explain that Santa is another name for St. Nicholas and he comes to different people on different days. 

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