Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Santa: Revisted

To Santa or not to Santa, that is the question...

Last year I professed some of my reservations with the Jolly Old Elf. It was easy to make a declaration of being a no-Santa family because my child was too young to even care about the guy. This year, though, is different. She is old enough to go along with the story, she definitely recognizes him in pictures, and she can definitely tell you that he says "Ho! Ho! Ho!". So... now we've got to think again. 

I wanted to quickly re-visit my post last year and share a few "tweaks" to the ideas spinning around in mine & Blake's heads!

While I still have serious reservations about Santa, I think we are coming to grips with his role in our Christmas activities. We still don't have a problem with the character himself (hello, we have already had our Santa pictures made!) and I really love the story of Saint Nicholas. But as far as the whole lying to our kids/using Santa as behavior management will just not really be the focus of our Christmas. We still aren't 100% certain how we will "do" (or not do) Santa, but this year we aren't really talking about Santa bringing us gifts very much. I don't really know where to go with that... one idea I had is to let "Santa" fill her stocking and let the other presents be from us - after all, Saint Nicholas brought simple gifts. I don't know!!! I just know I do want Maleah to have a little bit of imagination and wonder to her Christmas, but I just don't want Santa to be the central focus of it all. Thank God she's not quite two and we still have time to figure this out!

Last year I was really scattered with gifts for Maleah - I tried to do the whole "something they want/need/wear/read" (but ended up with way more than 4 presents). Gifts are just my love language... I love giving and getting presents! I ended up buying a lot of stuff and she really was only interested in one or two things that morning. So... here's what we have settled into: Maleah gets toys for Christmas. Done. Haha!

Seriously, though, we thought about it a lot and decided that we will primarily buy Maleah only toys as gifts for now. And those toys will be fairly limited - as in, we might buy her one large toy with some accessories to go with it. And we might get a couple other fun toys. We won't be buying her shoes or clothes or anything like that until she starts asking for them as gifts. 

Why? Well... here's why: Honestly, we don't really buy Maleah toys throughout the year. Sure, we might pick up a few things here and there for a treat (like the day I bought her a bunch of baby doll accessories in the middle of the summer!). We do, however, often buy books, puzzles, and art supplies throughout the year. So Christmas is a special time when she can get a few things she wouldn't normally receive during the course of the year. 

The grandparents are on board with this, too. This year each set of grandparents is buying Maleah some type of indoor/outdoor activity! I am really excited about these items. 

Lastly, our stocking stuffers are pretty basic - I have bought Maleah two character shirts and some character socks to put in her stocking. But I'll also probably put some crayons, candy, and finger paint. But that's about it since her birthday will be right around the corner!

Blake and I aren't really buying gifts for each other, either. We will do some stocking stuffers but we have really enjoyed going shopping after Christmas together with our Christmas money. Since we are both off for an extended time at Christmas, it's a nice way to spend an afternoon!

This year, Maleah was able to participate in our Operation Christmas Child shoe box packing party. While I know she didn't totally understand what we were doing or why, I loved having her be a part of the process! That is a ministry I hope we continue to support year after year!

We hope to also visit a nursing home with my mom & Fred one Sunday afternoon when they are planning to do Christmas carols. I know the people they see each Sunday afternoon would love to have a visit with Maleah!

I really hope we can instill a spirit of giving in Maleah, especially at Christmas time. There are so many ways we can give this time of year and we are trying to make her a part of those experiences as much as possible.

This year, our children's minister put together a packet of Advent resources for families to use. I am so excited about this! We are lighting candles at home and talking with Maleah about what the candles represent. Each week, we are trying to pull a phrase out of the lesson as her "take-away". This week's candle is the Prophecy Candle - we discussed how the Bible tells us God's plan for us and how that plan included Jesus to come as our savior. He came as "Emmanuel, God with us." That is the phrase we are repeating over and over this week - how all of God's plans pointed to him coming to earth in the form of a baby. We are also learning "O Come, O Come Emmanuel". Check out the resources - it's not too late to start!!!

I am also working on an ABC's of Advent book with Maleah - loosely based off of the ideas from this website. I'm making some changes that will be a little more appropriate for Maleah's age. We will have to double-up on some days (like Saturdays & Sundays we can do 2 or 3), but the idea is to try to do one a day. They don't have to be super elaborate... most of ours will involve coloring! But I think it will be a really sweet memory to preserve and pull out each year!

Lastly, we are following an Advent reading plan with the Jesus Storybook Bible before bedtime. We usually read her a story from it anyway, but this plan is tailored for the Advent season! 

Oh! And I bought a little snowman advent calendar. It isn't exactly what I wanted, but... he's cute. Maleah like snowmen. So, there ya go. 

There are lots of other things I want to be able to do with her - a Jesse tree is high on my priority list!!! But celebrating Advent is not about how many activities you can squeeze in before December 25th! Blake and I want what we do with Maleah to have an impact on her, so we aren't going to be hard-pressed to make things happen every single day when reality just does not always allow for our plans to go perfectly! But we are going to try to celebrate intentionally! 

Christmas Tree
I did well buying ornaments this year - we bought one for our family, one for Maleah, one to hold our Santa picture... and then I bought a couple extras because they were only $5! I really have a thing for ornaments. So far Blake & I have not bought each other ornaments, but we're working on it (I think).

Other Traditions
Christmas PJs - Maleah's got some cute pajamas that she'll be receiving for Christmas Eve and she can wear them to Christmas breakfast! She has a couple other pairs of Christmas PJ's from a consignment sale that she can wear until Christmas Eve.

Baking - I decided I'm going to try my hand at baking some Christmas goodies this year. First on my list is a pecan pie... never made one. We'll see how that goes! And I also want to make some cute Christmas cookies and maybe a fudge. I used to bake all the time but just haven't had the energy for it. So we'll see what I come up with. And hopefully Maleah will want to help out!

Well... that's all the thoughts I've got for now! What are your ideas for this season? Have your traditions changed as your children have grown?

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