Having "Giving" Christmas Instead Of A "Getting" Christmas

>> Tuesday, November 25, 2014

For awhile now, I've been feeling the pull to make our Christmas more simple, less about the materialism and more about the meaning.  But when you have a soon-to-be Tween and a 6-year old obsessed with Frozen, I began to doubt that it could even be possible.

As a parent, I'm guilty of spoiling my daughters.  Giving in to the impulse buys, fulfilling their Christmas wish lists at the expense of our bank account, wanting them to have the perfect Christmas with lots and lots of wrapped gifts under the tree.

What I've finally realized is that what usually happens is that 90% of the time, most of those gifts go unopened for days, weeks, often months at a time.  And even then, they usually end up in the "Gift Cabinet".....ready to be recycled for a last minute birthday gift or even donated to Toys for Tots the following year.

Realizing this triggered my own Christmas memory.  I honestly cannot remember sitting down to write a Christmas list.  (Maybe my mom or daddy can correct me here).  But I DO remember for about 2 Christmases, I begged and begged for Monopoly.  I told Santa, I told my Bubbe, I told my aunts and uncles, and I told my parents over and over.  But for two Christmases.....no Monopoly.  Until that one magical Christmas, Santa brought me the beloved Monopoly game.  (Picture me opening it a'la Ralphie on Christmas morning!)  I was thrilled.....I was ecstatic.....I promised Santa I would be the best behaved little girl ever.

I played that game maybe twice. 

You see my point?

But I digress. 

This fall has been a challenge for us financially.  We've had a few unexpected expenses which has made us tighten the belt a little more and rethink Christmas just a bit.  Could we really give our daughters a Christmas to remember without breaking the bank?

I recently met a friend for coffee and we had this very conversation.  We both talked and agreed that maybe, just maybe, God makes things a little tight around the holidays so that we can turn our focus to what truly matters -- the REAL gift -- Jesus Christ.

This year, this has been on my mind more than ever.  Especially when I sat down with the girls to ask them what they thought Christmas was about.  When they answered Santa and presents, I realized with a sinking heart that I have failed them as a mother.  I neglected teaching them the most important reason for Christmas.  My heart just broke.....but then made me more determined than ever to show them that a simple Christmas isn't all that bad.

We are a family of Santa believers, so I am not eliminating Santa from our family.....I can't do it.  The Christmas child inside of me would have a tantrum lasting until next Christmas.  But I believe that we CAN put a spin on Santa -- teaching the girls that he isn't just about bringing you everything on your list.  So, the first thing we're doing away with is the miles-long Christmas list.  I searched Pinterest, did Google searches and found a few Santa letters I liked.....but one thing was missing......thinking of others.  So I created my own.

Here, we are asking the girls to think about kind/nice things they've done throughout the year....whether it's helping a classmate or helping mommy/daddy/sissy.  We are also limiting them to list something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.  But my extra addition, was encouraging them to think about others and think of a gift that we could purchase and donate.  Not sure how all this is going to go over with Nani, but I can only hope!

Instead of doing an Advent Calendar (because I can never remember to do the activities!), we'll be doing 25 Days of Kindness.  We sat down as a family and came up with ideas to show kindness and think of others.  We came up with some good ideas and I can't wait to get started!  (Stay tuned for future blog posts as I document some of our RAKs!)

I've thought about this a lot and prayed over it.  My Marine is in total agreement with me and even said that we can never talk too much about giving back to others.  My only prayer now is that the girls will understand and take this all with an open heart.

How do YOU keep the meaning of Christmas in your family?


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