My husband and I come from very different backgrounds when it comes to Christmas time. I remember very clearly the first time we both laid out our families Christmas traditions with each other-my family went to the Christmas Eve service at our church, drove through the rich subdivision looking at their lights while singing carols, then we went home and opened gifts after my dad read the story of Jesus’ birth in Luke. At my house, Christmas day was divided between both my parents families so we spent that day busy eating WAY too much food.
His family made all sorts of different cookies, and frozen fruit cups. His mom would made special orange glazed cinnamon rolls and they would eat them while opening their stockings. They always open presents on Christmas morning, not the night before like in my family. Blending these two families together and mixing in some things of our own has been SO fun.
We try to be intentional with what messages we are sending our children, both verbally and by our actions. Two years ago I was working retail during the holidays and it was a weird combination of fun and horrifying. People in America go CRAZY during the holiday season. Money loses all value, I think because people don’t want to put a price tag on those that they love. It was (and sometimes still is) hard to not get wrapped up in all the fun and craziness. I have always enjoyed walking around busy malls during Christmas time-I love the huge, decorated Christmas trees, the music on a loop, and the fancy store displays. When you strip all that away though, what are you left with during the holiday season?
I want my children to grow up and experience the “magic” of Christmas while still focusing on the incredible gift that we received in Christ. Here are our family traditions for the holiday season:
- We focus on experiences. Experiences are what you’ll take with you anyways. The toys I bought for my daughter last year were long forgotten by February. To this day she still talks about decorating our tree, making cookies, and looking at Christmas lights.
- We buy practical presents. My three year old got a new toothbrush and toothpaste in her stocking, new tennis shoes under the tree, and a few other small gifts. She was SO excited about her new pink shoes and special watermelon toothpaste. I think WE are the ones who have control over wether or not our children become ungrateful. My kids are happier and play better with fewer toys. We don’t need to fit into the stereotype that the culture puts on us to constantly have bigger or better things.
- We buy family oriented gifts. I have loved giving my daughter a new Christmas movie every year. We get cozy in our pjs and drink cocoa and watch whatever movie it is. Last year was Frosty the Snowman. Other fun ideas are board games, and books!
- We have a big fancy meal. We don’t live near our families anymore, so we get to totally decide what we include in our Christmas meal. We see it as a BIG celebration, and we eat like it’s one. 🙂 Last year we made mashed potatoes, maple glazed carrots, and a big, giant beef tenderloin roast. It was glorious, and we are SUPER looking forward to this year!
- We take it easy. Last year we didn’t leave the house all day. Granted…I was 8 months pregnant so partying wasn’t really an option. I made special punch for breakfast and a french toast casserole to go with it. We just relaxed with our coffee and breakfast and then opened presents. The rest of the day we spent with each other, soaking in the holiday.
- We make it about Jesus. I remind my daughter during the entire season the reason behind the holiday. I tell her, “this is not about the presents.” and “Christmas is about Jesus’ birthday!” because that is ENOUGH to celebrate! We always make sure to read the story of Jesus’ birth before we open presents. Christmas time always makes my heart feel really squishy (in a good way!)
As the Christmas season approaches a few other ideas would be to avoid malls (or make a plan in advance and only go once for things you have planned to buy), avoid browsing websites that make it easy to buy more and more, and just focus on your WHY. Why are you celebrating-and how can you model that to your children?
Merry Christmas! (two and half months early 😉 )