As Christmas quickly approaches, I am faced yet again with the attempt to teach my children (and myself) the simplicity and the true meaning of Christmas despite the bombardment of the media saying otherwise. This year, my husband and I do not want to give our children lots of presents as we have done in the past. We don't want our boys to get caught up in the message of the world and lose the intended message of Christ.
Having lots of presents doesn't move our children any closer to the reality of celebrating Christ (which is the point) and it certainly contributes to an insatiable appetite for 'things' and an unhealthy sense of entitlement and ungratefulness. So many of the toys bought go unappreciated and unused each year. I see it with my own kids. Of all the gifts that they receive from us, from friends and family - only a few are played with any frequency.
I think it's funny that we move from Thanksgiving, a holiday to express being grateful for what we have to a man-made frenzy that feeds the mouths of overabundance and overindulgence. Somehow over the years, Christmas has become the time where people break the banks, max out their credit cards, deplete their savings... for what?! This only serves to contradict a grateful heart for the things in which we already have. This contradicts the simplicity of the season.
Now, don't get me wrong, our boys will receive presents at Christmas this year but the amount will be reduced drastically. We have talked to them about this change and instead of a long Christmas wish list, they have been asked to pick 3 things (each) that they would really like to receive. This has been an interesting assignment. Instead of complaining and sadness, it has sharpened our boys' deduction skills. Now, instead of creating a two page wish list, they have to really consider if an item is worthy of making the "top 3". Through this, they have really honed in on what they really want as opposed to random stuff that looks fun but is unappreciated moments after opening. Instead of receiving toy after toy ad nauseum and to the point of glazed over eyes, the focus has shifted to the true meaning of Christmas - celebrating the arrival of Christ our King, that was promised long ago.
Instead of giving your child one more 'thing' that may be tossed out or given away (or still sitting on a shelf) come next year's Christmas season, consider giving gifts that make an impact in the life of a child. Here's what I'm thinking for our sons in the new year:
1) Give of yourself. Life is busy. How much quality time are you giving to your child? Each child? One on one time is so precious and so important. Play some ball. Take a bike ride or a walk. Grab some ice cream together. Talk. Listen to your child. What a great coupon book this would make! Regardless of the presentation, make a commitment in your mind to do this more often.
2) Give to others. Volunteer to do a good deed with your child or children. Teaching our children to serve and help others is an excellent way to teach them about the spirit of Christmas and combat what the world says Christmas is. Make a welcome basket or cookies for a neighbor. Give to those in need. Find a charity to volunteer some hours. Help an elderly person.
3) Commit to creating some family moments in the new year. The reality is if you don't plan for them, they might not happen. Set aside a day or two each month that is just 'family day'. Create a time that is uninterrupted by any outside influence and just be a family together. Whether you go to the park, visit a museum, or take a road trip, make a plan to create some special
moments for you and your kids. Monthly family days have been a hit in our household!
4) Create a tradition. Traditions create wonderful moments for kids. They are special and set your family apart from what other families do. Traditions give kids a sense of security and a sense of fun. Come up with something fun and that your kids can really get in to!
Those are just a few free and fun ideas that my hubby and I will focusing on this holiday season and finding fun ways to present them to the boys! They each help capture the spirit of the season and help us to keep it simple!