My children have been up since well before dawn thanks to a little family tradition passed on from my husband's childhood called Christmas Eve Gift. (The first person in the family to utter those words on 12/24 gets their choice of a gift from under the tree to open early.)
Last night there were spy laser traps set, even our mischievous little elves got involved...
So in the dead of night at 5:25am we were startled awake by my sweet girl YELLING at the top of her lungs, "CHRISTMAS EVE GIFT!" in the hall outside all our rooms. It was hard to be frustrated when I heard her tremendously satisfied and nervously excited giggles.
The sparkle in their eyes, the energy, the wonder... There is nothing in the world like a 7 year old's Christmas Eve anticipation.
Childlike faith in things unseen. Imagination. Hopefulness and excitement about what is to come. Yes, these are responses to secular celebrations of the season--but they teach me so much and lend lots of opportunities for parallels to the wonder of the REAL Christmas story. They help my heart remember how it was designed to feel.
I am not a Santa or elf apologist. We are grace-loving folks who don't get into the elf surveillance or 'earning your gifts' observations. We redirect to what really matters when things seem to be getting out of kilter. But it is OK to have fun!
As with most everything in life, balance and perspective are key. And my 7 year olds think Jesus is even more awesome for letting us all have so much fun celebrating His birthday.