Friday, November 13, 2009

How is your Christmas shaping up?


But it's not even Thanksgiving you say? Well I'm here to encourage you, before you even begin, to think hard about what your family's goal is for celebrating Christmas this year. After several years of shopping 'til I dropped, up to the last possible day, I've taken an entirely new approach this year. I will not be spending the month of December in the Wal-Marts or even the BIG Mall. I will not be sending my husband out in the wee hours of the morning on Black Friday for that impossible-to-get, super-duper fabulous deal we don't even need. No, not I, never again I say. In fact my Christmas shopping is almost done, and will be by Thanksgiving.

Here is our plan for celebrating the birth of our King. This year, to keep the gift-giving simple and to not let it over-shadow the reason we give gifts in the first place, each of our children will only have three presents to open from us. I've always wanted to start the tradition of giving just three presents to represent the gifts the three wise-men brought to the baby Jesus. Shhhh...I am cheating just a bit as a couple of them will be two things that go together, wrapped up as one gift. I'm finding that old habits are hard to break. Next year should be even easier. And unfortunately, we have already introduced the girls to Santa Claus, so yes, the bearded man will place a few choice things in stockings and leave a small red sack (that I had monogrammed super on sale after Christmas last year) under the tree. No way around that one. But the point is, we will not be waist deep in wrapping paper with so many things that overwhelming is the only way to describe Christmas morning. I think in the past, David and I both let our own enthusiasm for shopping get in the way. We are changing that, just in time I think.

I have also done a lot of my shopping on-line this year which has helped make the few trips to the currently sparsely populated stores, even easier. I've never done this before and let me tell you, it's wonderful. I used to think that it didn't feel like Christmas unless I was standing in a store (preferably Eddie Bauer) listening to Christmas music while waiting in line or helping customers in line. How wrong I was! I think the five years I worked retail did a number on me. That's not Christmas at all. I want to get back to (and for my kids, start) the tradition of quiet evenings at home eating lovely homemade dinners, listening to music, playing games and gazing at the Christmas tree instead of running around like a crazy person. The only thing we'll be missing is a fireplace.

And this year, while many are just starting their shopping, the day after Thanksgiving, we will be driving an hour or so to cut down our own Christmas tree. This will be a first and I hope there is snow! Later, we'll spend a few evenings driving through our city to look at Christmas lights after hanging up our own display. We also have tickets to the Nutcracker Ballet (I've never seen a live performance) with the girls and to a Night Before Christmas play too. We'll be baking various Christmas cookies and attempting our first, from scratch, gingerbread house. We'll be reading the story of Christmas from Luke 2:1-20 several times. This week, we'll also be filling up Shoe Boxes for children overseas. And on Christmas morning we will be eating Birthday cake and singing Happy Birthday to Jesus.

I want our kids to grow up understanding that the toys with all the bells and whistles are not what Christmas is about. That it's about how much God loves us and sharing that love with others. It's about the birth of our Savior, Jesus, who is the only reason for the season.

What Christmas traditions does your family enjoy? Are you starting anything new this year? I'd love to hear from you.

p.s. I love this idea (see these too) instead of traditional teacher gifts, especially if you have several children (aka multiple teachers in their lives). I'll be trying my hand at making these myself, for neighbors this year. Stacy, Marilyn and Cheryl, you didn't just read that! ;)

p.p.s. I'll be back soon with Sam's 1st Birthday pics and later next week I should have a baby blanket tutorial up as well.


Jessica said...

Love this post, Angel!

We, too, are trying to reel it in and really focus on the meaning of Christmas - our Savior's birth! Last year was the first year I heard of doing the 3 gifts in honor of the gifts the wise men brought to baby Jesus and we're doing that this year (and yes, cheating a bit with the 2-for-1...old habits die hard!). I'm also making homemade gifts for all the kiddos on our list (wish me luck as it involves sewing :O).

For Grace's teachers I plan on making cupcakes-in-a-jar gifts and having Grace paint a large cardstock that I'll then cut into small tree-shaped pieces to make gift tags.

For our neighbors I plan on baking treats and leaving them on their doorsteps a la "You've been boo'd" instead this year it'll just have a tag telling them how much we appreciate them and then encouraging them to "Pay it Forward"...I hope this way most every house in our neighborhood will enjoy a little unexpected holiday cheer.

As far as traditions, we have several, but my favorite is making hot cocoa in a big thermos and going to look at Christmas lights. Grace loved this last year and I can't wait to introduce Hudson to it this year!! In January (Jan 5-6) we always celebrate 3 Kings Day where kids put grass and a little water under their bed and in the morning the 3 wise men (and their camels - hence the grass) leave them little trinket toys and candy. That one is a hispanic tradition I grew up with :)

And finally - to end the longest comment in blog history - I plan on making another gingerbread house with that I know how long it takes!!

Merry Christmas! I love Christmas!

holly_rapley said...

Hi Angel! We've always done about that - 3-ish gifts, but only because we're cheap and the kids won't notice and we have a family's worth of airline tickets to buy at Christmas, rental car, etc.

That's amazing that you're already about done. My goal is to be done before December which is huge for me.

What Christmas traditions does your family enjoy? Are you starting anything new this year? I'd

We're going to the Holidazzle parade downtown - probably just Caleb and I, and if we like it we might go more than once. I've never been to it, but Caleb loved watching it on TV last year.

As far as teacher gifts, I did get them chocolate last year, but I usually assume teachers are getting a lot of treats this year and that there's only so much a person can eat in a day, and perishable food could get tossed. I'd love ideas for non-food gifts, but I have none.


Barefoot Belle said...

I love this post! It is so easy for us to become consumed by the season, when really we should be celebrating the life of our redeemer. Thanks for sharing.

Kacey & Kandy said...

What a great post! Thanks for sharing your new Christmas traditions with us! We will be scaling back a bunch this year on the gifts and try to embrace the the celebration of the season instead!

Angel said...

Jessica, I've never heard of 3 Kings Day. That sounds like fun too. Loe the thermos of cocoa for the Christmas light drive, I think we'll do that too. Everything sounds wonderful!

Holly, I forgot about Holidazzle! Maybe we can caravan with your family this year? We'll also see Macy's 8th floor auditorium's display this year too and I'd like to do Christmas caroling with church this year, if they do it again.

Barefoot Belle, LOVE your blog!

Kacey, I'll be sure to have lots of pictures of snow for you! LOL