Putting the Christ back in CHRISTmas

Our first Christmas with Arleigh was a wonderful mix of different. It was our first Christmas without the last patriarch in the family, my Pop, which meant this was the first Christmas with new traditions of our very own.          
Our first new tradition... Christmas brunch at our house. I've never been home for Christmas (always with the Junkin side), so this was all new to me. I did a trial run of what we were having at AOM's birthday party.  Hot ham and swiss sandwiches, Pluck it bread, Chicken Salad, Pasta Salad, Christmas Day breakfast casserole, fruit....It was very yummy in our tummies. :-)
On to the presents.  AOM is one lucky little lady. The grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and Cousin supplied her with this load of LOOT. We need a bigger house because of it. NO JOKE. After the Mansell, Sansing, Junkin sides of the family, plus my friends who are family, Arleigh O was racking up the stuff. Our car was loaded to the ceiling 3 times with stuff. She got more at one stop than most kids get all Christmas. This is just a sampling....
 Then Santa came and supplied her with this load of loot at our house Christmas morning. Santa doesn't wrap in our family. Does Santa wrap for you?   Santa brought AO the little people first farm, which I got on my first Christmas. My Mama didn't tell me until after Santa came. How cool was that!  (Great Mama's think alike, apparently!) She also got the Little People doll house, which has a flushing toilet. Her first baby baseball, a xylophone, and her first cabbage patch doll. Which brings us to this...

Gifts of the Magi - Christmas gifts with a little more Biblical Meaning

Before we even get started, I am in no way saying the overload of presents is wrong for your family. I'm doing this for my family because: 
  • Arleigh is more than blessed with plenty of stuff from the Grandparents, aunts, uncles, great aunts, cousins, friends...you get the idea.  I don't think she will miss out on any presents.
  • We don't have room for much more "stuff" - We are busting at the seams of our little bitty starter home.
  • Mama needs a budget and expectations on what is acceptable. I need to buy presents worthy of lasting and not just "stuff" to fill up space. The presents need to have a meaning or a substance. I need to think before I buy.
  • There will always be three presents, which (you've got to admit) makes it much easier when shopping. Not to mention one day with sibling rivalry. 
  • If we start this now while AO is young, it will be our own tradition as a family. One that they will hopefully want to pass on to their kids.
  • I really think we're raising a generation of kids who expect the latest and greatest at all times. (This applies to me as well.....Have you seen her smocked dress collection?) Toning it down and honing it just a little will (I hope) have dramatic results one day. It can't hurt.
  • And the biggest reason? There is not enough Christ in Christmas.

We've talked with Santa and decided it's time to get a little more perspective on Christmas. From now on, children in the P&J Mansell house will receive four presents. We had discussed doing this this year, but I let folks talk me into the "it's her first Christmas, you have to buy more" mentality, which was (excuse the word) stupid. This year, Arleigh got traditional Santa, PLUS her Gifts of the Magi. Not again. There is no point in going this overboard on presents. Mama and Daddy need boundaries. My kids need to realize the real meaning of Christmas - which has nothing to do with presents.

The biggest benefit for Christmas presents with biblical perspective - If three gifts were good enough for baby Jesus, why shouldn't they be good enough for our own kids? Why do we have the "keep up with the Jones" mentality, when we should be worried about keeping our kids on the right track with their heavenly Father?

From a budget perspective, we can reign in requests to fit whatever budget we set. There is no point in an overflow of stuff that is used or played with for two months and then forgotten. It requires us - as parents - to actually think about the gifts we are giving.  When Arleigh is older, it will require honest discussions about the biggest point of Christmas - the birthday of Jesus. Imagine that thought - Christmas is about CHRIST.

When I was first searching online and asked for ideas on Facebook about traditions within your own family for Christmas, I was surprised with the friends who already do some type of variation of the three present rule. They may not tie back in to the categories directly, but they set boundaries for themselves and their kids for a holiday that is becoming more and more excessive each year.

Present 1. Christmas Eve night PJs from Mama and Daddy. Just like baby Jesus got swaddling clothes. (for 33 years I have always had Christmas pjs, so this one just has to stay.)

Present 2, from Santa. Representing Gold. This is their big ticket item, or the item they would like to have the most. It can be a gift for the entire family, or it can be a gift of enduring value.  Like dance or swimming lessons, or a trip to make memories with the family. Or a keepsake piece of jewelry.  This year, Arleigh is the proud new owner of two Britax Car seats.  (Which, by the way, she absolutely loves.)

Present 3, from Santa. Frankincense.  Back when baby Jesus received Frankincense, it was a comforting, holy anointing oil. For Arleigh's purpose, the gift that represents Frankincense is a spiritual gift. Something that can further her relationship with God. One day, it could be a new bible, Christian CDs, the cost for a special retreat or church trip, or a new devotional book. This year, she got Noah's ark and a Veggie Tales movie. 

Present 4, from Santa. Myrrh. Myrrh was used when someone died, to clean their body. This one is always a little harder for me to make a literal present. One day, this could be lotions, new towels, bath robe, makeup or house shoes...you get the idea. Cleanliness is next to Godliness. This year, Arleigh is getting a bathroom redo, which (don't tell her) we were planning on anyway.

I should probably mention that within our little family four-some (Me, John, dog-child Clarence, and 10 Month Arleigh) we really don't do a ton of presents. I couldn't tell you the last time John bought me something for a birthday or holiday on his own. We're just not holiday gifters. Givers, yes. But within out little family, it just isn't a priority. We give to each other with what we want year round, or I just buy what I want. I have friends who would go insane at the thought of no present from the hubs at Christmas or your birthday. It's just not on the list of battles I choose to pick. It's really not that big of deal in the grand scheme of things. Yes, I've had my feelings hurt before. And maybe one day Arleigh O can take dear old dad shopping like we did with my Daddy years ago. 

Maybe presents are more important to your household, and this would never work. And that's fine, too. As long as your kids know the real reason for the season, the message is in their hearts.
Daddy, The Lab Child Clarence, 10 Month old Arleigh
The memories from Christmas are my favorite part of the holiday. Especially this one. I was conked out on the couch for THE FIRST Christmas afternoon nap, and woke up to this precious sight. My three loves playing in the new doll house. (Inspecting the above mentioned flushing toilet.) Such a sweet sight, and a very, very, precious memory.

We didn't get in our Birthday Party for Jesus this year. Hopefully next year. I already bought Happy Birthday Jesus plates and napkins, so we have a head start! 

Hope your Christmas was a fabulous as ours!  What are your favorite Christmas traditions?

1 comment :

  1. Sweet plans Penny. I hope you can stay true to your purpose and are able to resist the "Jones" mentality:). Ashley and I try to stick to our favorites....Pj's. a book and an ornament. Stockings are for those little things we see and "just thought you would love it" sweet things. You Can control it!!!! Love ya , Ms Karen