Monday, November 26, 2012

Friday Q & A–Christmas prep

…on a Monday…didn’t quite get to this last week…

I did a quick search, so maybe I've missed your discussions about Christmas gifts/Santa. I read the traditions post {I think back here}, but I'd love to hear how you combat the commercialization, excess and greed encouraged by society.

Oh man, I think about and worry about this every single year.  Each year I scramble to try to find a way in the middle of all the hoopla to take off into the mountains and just give each child one single Polar Express “believing” bell and some family games and snuggle together talking about the true meaning of Christmas. 

BUT, having said that, it is a wonderful thing to be able to give gifts.  There’s nothing like seeing the look on kid’s faces on Christmas morning if they get what they have been dreaming of. 

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Although we in no way have all the answers to this question, here are some things we do to try to combat commercialism:

1) Because our big kids have to pay for a lot of what they have (see this system here and here) I think that makes Christmas that much more exciting.

2) If our kids ask for too much for Christmas we just laugh.

I’m serious. 

We just smile and remind the kids we don’t have a money tree in the back yard, and even if we did, we wouldn’t feel right about giving them everything they want. 

3)  We try to incorporate service into the Christmas season.  Still working on figuring out a great idea for that this year…we are trying to figure out something to do actually on Christmas morning before we open gifts…

4) We make a really big deal about giving and how it makes you feel.  My very favorite part of Christmas is Christmas Eve is when the kids give each other their gifts they have saved up for.  We do it on Christmas Eve because we don’t want all the Santa stuff to take away from the joy of giving.  The kids always earn and pay for gifts for each other themselves and there is nothing better than their faces when they give something they have worked hard for away. 

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When the kids were little we went to the dollar store before Christmas and they bought each other presents there.  For the past few years though they draw names out of a hat and they buy something special for one of their siblings.  We use a money limit of $20. 

I love Christmas Eve.

A couple weeks ago I read this passage to my kids from this book I’m reading (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn…it’s a gem by the way):

“Christmas was a charmed time in Brooklyn.  It was in the air, long before it came…the first sure sign was the store windows.

“You have to be a child to know how wonderful is a store window filled with dolls and sleds and other toys.  And this wonder came free to Francie.  It was nearly as good as actually having the toys to be permitted to look at them through the glass window.”

Then it goes on to talk about how Francie drooled over the gorgeous dolls in the windows.  “Francie had never had a doll except a two-inch one that cost a nickel.” 

“there were other marvelous things.  Francie couldn’t take them all in.  Her head spun and she was dizzy with the impact of all the seeing and all the making up of stories about the toys in the shop windows.”

We talked about how amazing it is that we can actually buy some things, not just look at them in the store windows.  It makes me think that sometimes buying things and just having them isn’t nearly as pleasurable as yearning for them, or saving up for them.

I’m not, in any shape or form, trying to say we don’t buy our kids stuff for Christmas (in fact, I’m working on a “favorite things” post for tomorrow because sometimes it’s hard to think of the perfect gift).  We buy them what they need (clothes, underwear…they’re very excited about that :) and Santa usually brings them each one “big” thing.

We get satisfaction from that because they look like this when they open their gifts on Christmas morning:

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So excited for Christmas.

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