Not that I don't enjoy Christmas. Not that I don't want my children to grow up with all the suspense/mystery/excitement of this holiday season. Not that I don't enjoy the shopping, gift giving, anticipation that comes from this time of the year. I'm just not THAT into the commercialism, advertisement overload, shop til you drop, must-haves mind set of the majority.
So this year has been just the same as the past 7 years (since we had our first child) of questions.... "what shall we get the girls for Christmas?", "what do you want to spend on each person this year?", "who all do we need gifts for?", "where shall we buy ____ (fill in the blank)", is ______ (FIB) on sale at _______(FIB)store/web site?", "when are we putting up the tree?", "what are we having for Christmas dinner?", "which side of the family do we get together with and what day?", "when are the girls programs?", "do they need new clothes/shoes/etc", "are we seeing Santa this year? Where?", "are we sending out cards? Generic or family picture ones?", "when can we go to Ohio?", "can we take the time off?", "do we dare buy a BIG ticket item or should we wait for tax return in the spring?"
HOW SIMPLE/SPARSE/EASY/NON COMMERCIAL OF A CHRISTMAS CAN I GET AWAY WITH AND NOT DISAPPOINT MY CHILDREN?
NOT that I'm a Scrooge, a Grinch or any such thing.... I'm really just tired of it all!
Well, to me and my family, it's the celebration of the birth of Jesus as a baby. THAT's THE most important reason we celebrate. That to us is the whole reason for the season. The decorations, gift giving, eating, parties etc. those are just bonus' to our celebration!
The past 2 years we have lowered the amount of gifts that we give to the girls. We buy three gifts each (if the wisemen brought that many to Jesus it's good enough for us)!! Traditionally, we buy them each a new game (for our family time throughout the year), new jammies or nightie, and then one larger item that they have maybe wanted for a while but we've always said, "no" to.
*now before any of you loverly readers take offense to our girlies having such a minimal Christmas, please note: they receive MANY gifts from other family members (grandparents, uncles/aunts, school parties etc)
We'd also like to take gift giving to a "new" level. Greg and I have thrown ideas around for quite a few years. Serving holiday meals to the less fortunate, caroling to shut-ins/nursing home residents. Delivering food/gift baskets to those who wouldn't have any, volunteering @"Toys for Tots" toy pickup stations. Almost anything that would take us out of the "mememe", "getgetget" mindset of the season. We are just kinda wondering when would be an appropriate time/age for the girls.
Since our girlies are 7 and 4 1/2 years old they are very much into "Oh, I want that!! Can I have that? I want that for Christmas!" stage (as I was @ their ages). We've been teaching them and talking to them about others who may not have anything, or maybe don't have enough to have Christmas for their children. That is a year long lesson.
(Please note, these stores are not "evil" and I will more than likely get Christmas gifts @ one or more)
The other day Liyah and I ran to Wal-Mart to pick up a Rx for me (coughing is some better thanks) and there was a 30 something year old man standing at the edge of the parking lot with the cardboard sign that read "Will work for Food for Family". Li wanted to know what he was doing and I told her as best I could so that she would know what he needed, but not worry about his family (she would want to know where his kids are and are they hungry). Not that I don't want her to be compassionate, but she is too young to take the weight of worry onto her shoulders!
The girls know about the red kettles and the bell ringers (Salvation Army) and why they are doing that. They ENJOY dropping in change whenever we go into stores where they are located.
Here's my question to you? Does your family do some "gift giving" @ Christmas time? Do you go outside of you and your family and make someone else's holiday meaningful? What do you do? The hubs and I have debated going to a shelter/soup kitchen and volunteer our family to help serve, clean, minister to those that are there during the holidays. How old do you think the girlies should be to do that safely and usefully (pretty sure no one would like my 4 yr old scooping them some mashed potatoes, as my 7 yr old wouldn't be too efficient with a broom)?
Has your family volunteered anywhere? Any suggestions?
As for me and the gift giving..... we will probably be hitting the stores within the next two weeks to get what we would like to get for the girlies. The hubs and I will be trimming the tree, decking the halls, singing the carols and wrapping the presents. Just like we do every year!!