Like most new parents, Blake and I are wondering how to go about "doing" this whole Christmas thing. We've been discussing Christmas traditions long before Maleah ever came along and now it's time to start putting those things into practice. We have made some thoughtful decisions that I hope help teach our children that celebrating Christmas means celebrating Christ. But, don't just read! Share what you're doing, too. I want to hear others' ideas on shifting the focus off of consumerism and back onto the hope of Christ.
Disclaimer: I'm not judging anyone. Let's just get that out there, okay?
First things first: Blake and I will be the weirdos who don't "do" Santa for our kids. Working in elementary schools totally ruined the whole Santa thing for me. I hated talking (read: lying) to kids about how someone could possibly travel the world in one night, how he could fit down the chimney, and how the Santa's in the malls are just his "helpers". I just hated it. Essentially, we have no problem with the story of the real Saint Nicholas or even about letting our children enjoy the character of Santa Claus. Heck, we already have plans to take her to get her picture made with the jolly old elf! I'm cool with that. I just don't want to get caught up in the lies and stories and all that. Oh, and I especially don't want to play the "bad kids get coal" game because let's face it - the bad kids usually get the best gifts. Santa won't be used as a bribe for good behavior and we won't be writing wish lists to him. I hope my kids won't need therapy for this.
Gifts are my love language, so this is what I struggle with most at Christmas. I love to give and to receive. We hope to teach our children that Christmas is a time for giving to others and enjoying what others have given us. I love the "something they want/need/wear/read" thing going around, and we've decided to base our gifts around that. While I can't promise we'll stop at just four presents, we will definitely give our children an assortment of those types of things. We want to avoid the onslaught of random toys that will only hold their attention for a millisecond. That's what grandparents are for, right? :)
Blake and I do exchange gifts, but we set a very modest budget because we usually get money as a gift from our families. Last year, we went shopping together with that money and it was so much fun! We bought some things we had been wanting to better organize our apartment, and we each got something "fun" for ourselves. We loved it!
As far as giving goes, we really want to place an emphasis on enjoying giving to others. We want to do some sort of charitable giving that involves our children each year. I'm sure the means we'll use will change as our children grow, but one idea Blake had that I love is that we have our kids give away items (in good condition) they no longer use/need before Christmas. I love this because I hate keeping things we no longer use/need and it teaches them how to sacrifice for the sake of others. I also like the idea of giving them money to spend as they see fit for those in need.
I've never really intentionally celebrated Advent at home and I'm really excited about what we're doing this year! My mom is crocheting 25 mini stockings for me to turn into a garland and use as our Advent calendar. This year we'll follow a guide of 25 Scriptures to read each day before Christmas (I'll put the passages in the little stockings). In the future, we'll do more kid-friendly activities that really involve them in the waiting.
I am also looking forward to having our own Advent wreath that we can light each night at dinner. I'll post a picture once I've made it, but my plan is to buy five white pillar candles, pink and purple ribbon (I already have white), and some burlap. I'll wrap purple ribbon around three candles, pink around one, white around another, put them in a circle with a candle in the middle and use the burlap as the "wreath". Easy, inexpensive, and usable!
I love the Christmas tree. I also love ornaments. Two years ago, I spent over $100 on ornaments in one day. Yup. Obviously this is a habit I need to get control of FAST! My ornament plan is as follows:
1. Each family member gets one new ornament each year.
2. We make a family ornament each year.
PERIOD, KATIE. PERIOD. (This is gonna be hard. They're so sparkly!!!)
I love getting new PJ's on Christmas Eve, so I'd like to continue that in our family. Blake and I would like to try to give the PJ's and read the Christmas story before bed on Christmas Eve while drinking hot chocolate. So special! (I am obsessed with hot chocolate, FYI. It WILL be a part of Christmas.)
Before opening presents on Christmas day, I would love for us to light the final Advent candle and spend some time together as a family. Maybe we have breakfast and sing a few carols, read some Scripture, and pray for others before rushing into the living room. I'm really not sure how this will play out since it will still be a few years before Maleah understands what is happening. So, if you have some ideas about how to avoid the OHMYGOSHITSCHRISTMASMORNINGANDTHEREAREPRESENTS mania, please share!!!
That's about all I've got at this point. I'm reading Treasuring God in Our Traditions by Noel Piper and I must say, it is a beautifully written story. I am a person who LOVES traditions and I want to pass those things along to our children and grandchildren, while helping them understand that we do those things because they help us focus on Christ. Please share some of your holiday traditions that help keep the Christmas Craze at a minimum at your house!!