With summer over, Christmas is just around the corner. I had a friend tell me just the other day that Christmas is only 82 days away (at the time of this particular blog)! I sort of had a minor melt down cuz I am most definitely NOT ready for THAT time of year yet!
I LOVE Christmas!! It is my absolute, hands down MOST FAVORITE time of year! I get to do all sorts of stuff! I love the lights, the music, the snow (cuz I can bring out all my favorite snowmen - OK so they have been out since just after Halloween, but hey - when it snowed, the snow stuck to the ground for more than 24 hours so I was justified in getting them out of hiding!) I love the excitement of buying the perfect gift for someone and imagining the look on their face when they open said gift.
There is just one thing that I don't love about Christmas and that is the commercial side of all of it. I ask you "Why do we have Christmas anyway?" I know for a fact that it isn't to see who gets the biggest and best "whatever" on the block. It is because we were given an incredible gift so many years ago.
The first Christmas was very simple. Shared between a man and woman with a small baby that was born under the humblest of circumstances. There weren't any brightly colored packages, no boughs of holly, no silver bells, no carols were sung, no trees were strung with lights, and there were most definitely no cookies to exchange and no cards to mail. No, Christmas is about the Son of God who was sent to this earth to provide us with a way back to our Heavenly Father. What we do with that gift is up to each of us personally.
My hubby and I started a tradition of giving service to families that might be in need of a little "pick-me-up" for the holidays. We don't always pick a family who is struggling financially either. We tend to look for a family that is really trying to pull their own weight to make things work for themselves and not just looking for a handout. Sometimes it is a close friend while other times it is someone we barley know. What I love most about this tradition is how my children LOVE to wrap the packages, place them on the doorstep of our unsuspecting candidate, ring the doorbell then run like crazy! Oftentimes we will hide in nearby bushes and watch as the family piles out of the house and stand on their front porch wondering where all this Christmas spirit came from. That is what I love most about Christmas. The magic of making someone feel loved.
My hubby and I have decided to scale back the gift getting aspect of our young family. We used to go "all out" on gifts for our children. It got to the point that there were more gifts in our front room than sitting places to open it all up. At the end of the gift-opening session, the children couldn't even remember what they got from who. So, it was time to scale it all back.
We started to look around our humble home and decided the children already had enough toys and we didn't need to create anymore messes by adding to the craziness of toys that don't get cleaned up. We decided to instead get them ONE toy they could play with, something to wear (usually pjs), something to read (everyone loves a good book), something to eat (yum! chocolate) and something from their sibling (got to teach them how to give to others).
The one thing that we have most recently done is get them an experience. I know this sounds really weird, especially if you don't understand. We give them an experience by going on an outing with them. It is a time when we go to the aquarium, zoo, museum or wherever to let them experience time with mom and dad. Just the kids and parents. No extras like grandparents or aunts, uncles or cousins. Just them. It gives them the feeling of being loved above all else. I guarantee that they will never remember that great-aunt so-and-so gave them a set of legos, but they WILL remember the time they saw a sea turtle the size of a car at the aquarium.
There are still the gifts from grandparents and aunts who like to spoil the children, so they most definitely don't suffer from lack of gifts. When grandma-great gives them money we purchase a small gift for them, then take the rest to the bank and put it into their accounts to accumulate for when they get older. All in all my children don't feel slighted in any way.
It is all in how you present it to your children. I once asked my now 18 year old if she felt like we didn't give her enough when she was growing up. She said, without hesitation, "Nope. You gave me all I ever needed." I love my children and I hope that the traditions we have started with them will teach them we really do love them and that you don't need to have "things" to make memories.