Ahh, Christmastime. Carolers singing. Sleigh bells ringing. Wrapping paper flinging.
A couple of days ago I asked the question “Do you need a reason?” and enjoyed reading all of the answers. We do seem to need a reason, whether it is Jesus or winter solstice. So, now that we see the meaning in Christmas, how do we pass on that value to our children? We have found something significant in the season, but the frivolities of commercialism threaten to overpower the entire month. In an effort to prevent our kids from turning into greedy beggars during the Christmas season, we have come up with a few strategies I thought I would share.
1. We teach our kids that Christmas is about giving – when talk of “what I want for Christmas” gets into full swing, I try to swing it the other way. Countering a whiney, “I want a pony” with a gentle, “what should we get for ____ this year?” takes little minds off of me, me, me and puts them back onto you, you, you.
2. We teach our kids that Christmas is about family – Our Christmas Eve tradition is to open two family gifts – one is a game and the other is a chocolate orange. We then spend the evening playing our new game together, laughing, talking and eating our treat. We play games a lot, and we spend a lot of time together throughout the year, but this one night is so fun and has a special feel to it.
3. We try keep the gifts to a minimum – Grandparents have the spoiling covered and do a fabulous job of keeping the toy boxes over filled. The decision that we made years ago to give our kids only stockings on Christmas morning is one of the best ideas we have ever had. I should qualify that by saying that our kids get awesome stocking stuffers. (I figure about $50 for each kid.)
4. We participate in a gift exchange with the extended family – I come from a large family, so getting a gift for everyone is daunting if not impossible. Several Christmas’s ago, we started drawing names for a gift exchange. This has been so much fun. First, because we draw names early in the year, so all year long we are thinking of “our person”. “Who do you have for Christmas?” is a question asked all year long. Shopping in June may yeild just the right gift, I have tons of time to knit something great, the kids talk about/think about/pray for their person all year. We get so wrapped up in what we are going to do for someone else that we forget that someone else has our name! We focus on giving. On Christmas day, we can’t wait to give that gift that we have planned, worked for, worked on all year long. I can’t say enough good things about this tradition.
5. No Santa allowed – this was actually a compromise early in the establishment of our family. The Man didn’t want to do any Christmas at all, I wanted to go hog wild. We met in the middle by agreeing that it would be a celebration of Christ’s birth, a time for blessing others, and a time for family. It would not be reindeer, Santa Claus, or gifts (see #3 above). The Christmas tree was something that I had to lobby for, but is now solidly part of our tradition. It is important to keep the focus on the things that make Christmas special to everyone, and for us that means No Santa. I can live with that.
How do you combat commercialism in your home? What traditions are you looking forward to this year?