Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Time

Christmas is only a few days away. Read my thoughts about Christmas last year from part of my living simply series. (I have many more thoughts to add to that series, just working on how to articulate them).

This is the first Christmas that the boys really have some idea of what is going on. That don't really know that Christmas is an actual day, they just know it's Christmas time. That means we decorate a tree, have a manger scene (where the donkey gives everyone a ride!) and light our advent candles each night. Their favourite Christmas songs are Away in a Manger, Jingle Bells and Up on the Rooftop (thank you daycare!).

I am feeling quite thankful that we have embraced the idea of a simple Christmas. We've decided that in our little nuclear family we are only going to do stockings for each other. This is pretty easy at the moment as the boys are still young. I am not anti-gifts and they will still have presents to open at extended family gatherings but they really don't need more from us. I want Christmas to be more  focused on giving to others in need, spending time with family and sharing experiences together. And of course, celebrating the gift of Jesus. Lighting the advent calendar this year has more been a lesson in counting than anything spiritual. Such is life with toddlers.

It continues to amaze me how much Christmas seems to be about stuff. By far the biggest question I'm asked is if I'm done my Christmas shopping. People also ask if my kids are excited about Santa. Santa wasn't a big part of my childhood. I'm not going to go out of my way to teach them he isn't real but I'm not telling them he's bringing them gifts. He's more a figure we see on TV and sing about sometimes. (As a side, I will always remember a favourite moment last year, sitting in the waiting room of a doctor's office. Some kids were acting up and their dad was threatening to call Santa to cancel their presents. He was on his way to dialling before they smartened up. I would bet any amount of money that no matter what they did he was never going to follow through.)

I love that Christmas is not stressful for us. It's about people, not stuff, and celebrating God incarnate. I think going against the consumerism of the season will get harder as the boys get older. They will begin to notice what happens around them. But we're determined to be intentional about learning to be a family that lives counter-culturally and gives generously especially at this time of year. And I'm thankful to be part of a community that values this as well. There are million ways to do Christmas and I love learning from others. I have a long way to go. What are some ways you've changed the way you do Christmas over the years?

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