December 15, 2014 | 12:21 pm

Naughty or Nice?

There are so many lovely parts of this season that I wish I could stop time and enjoy it. But there is at least one part that I will be happy to leave behind in January: the Naughty list. Just this morning before we boarded the elevator in our building, a neighbor asked my children the dreaded questions: Have you been naughty or nice this year? Will Santa be bringing you any gifts this Christmas? At this point, my children look at me awkwardly, not knowing what to say. They have heard a different message from us for the past few years: Christmas is about love. We give gifts to the people we love. There is nothing you can do that will cause you to lose Christmas.

You cannot lose Christmas.
You cannot lose Christmas.

You cannot lose Christmas.

Psychologically speaking, in our household, anxiety creates problems. Less anxiety about losing presents equates to less bad behavior. But spiritually speaking, the naughty/nice dichotomy is missing the point of the gospel message for which Jesus came: We are all naughty. We are all given a great gift. In spite of ourselves.

Now the silly question about naughty and nice may not be as triggering for your family. It may be a fun exercise that doesn’t make your children nervous or anxious. That’s the beauty of grace. Rejoice that your children are so secure in your love and in their place in the family that you can be playful in this way. But when you sit down to open gifts together on Christmas morning, you might consider taking a moment to remind your kids that these moments represent love, not a reward for good behavior.