I admire people who get Christmas right. And by get Christmas right I mean not feel the need to get their children tons of things and who don’t feel the need to create some dramatic exciting scene of them coming down the stairs to find all of the presents Santa left….instead these family keep the focus where it should be and still enjoy giving and getting a few gifts while not buying into the consumer culture.
We are not those people.
I’d like to be, but my husband and I can’t get over the nostalgia of Christmas. Blame our parents for fond Christmas memories or blame the movies for presenting such heartwarming scenes of a big Christmas. But whatever it is, we have not yet been able to talk ourselves out of giving our kids those magical Christmas memories of trying to get to sleep so Santa will come and waking up to find eaten cookies and a plethora of presents.
Still despite all that, I long for my children to know and appreciate the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of our savior. I want to get it right but I can’t talk myself into it!
So we try–to show them not just to get but to give. Some of the things we’ve tried over the years:
- Every year for as long as I can remember, we set up the nativity without Baby Jesus in the manger and they earn a piece of hay to keep Him warm for every good deed they do. They find him warm in his manger on Christmas morning.
- We have baked extra cookies and brought them to elderly neighbors who are alone.
- And then every year for the past few years, we’ve given them the gift of giving. It all started a few years ago when I felt like there might be too many presents. My then 3 year old had been saying she wanted a little sister, so we decided to have them sponsor a child. We wrapped up the picture of a sweet little two year old girl from Honduras and put it under the tree. Since that time they help earn dollars and change to pay our monthly pledge as well as write letters back and forth with her which they absolutely love.
- The year after that, they earned money and we went to the dollar store and bought toys and socks and took them to the homeless shelter.
I admit I hung up list for the kids to write down what they want for Christmas well before Thanksgiving and started my shopping by ten too to make sure I get those things that may become hard to find (thank goodness none of my kids have mentioned hatchimals!!).
But I’m asking them another question too–
How are we going to give this year?