After writing about and celebrating Easter, I decided on Monday that I would go ahead and continue a little series on traditions. The informal part 1a and part 1b are both about Easter. Today, I thought I would jump to Christmas.
As I mentioned in my "Easter" post, I like this article by Mark Driscoll about what to do with Santa Claus. The premise of the article is that we can reject him, receive him, or redeem him. For the Driscoll Family, redeeming Santa looks like telling their kids the truth about the real person of Saint Nicholas and the origins of the cultural traditions surrounding his persona. They encourage their children to enjoy the festivities and make believe, but they also distinguish the pretend from truth. Plus, Santa isn’t all myth and magic. Driscoll ends his article writing:
“In sum, Saint Nick was a wonderful man who loved and served Jesus faithfully. So, we gladly include him in our Christmas traditions to remind us of what it looks like for someone to live a life of devotion to Jesus as God. Our kids thank us for being both honest and fun, which we think is what Jesus wants.” (http://blog.marshillchurch.org)
Now I am sure, like most things we teach our children, giving the scoop on Santa will be a somewhat on-going process. We won’t sit Reed down next Christmas (at 21 months old!) to give him a history lesson on Saint Nick, set the record straight, and check it off our list. Ha! Our early efforts will be more focused on living out authentic celebration of God’s gift of grace to the world. Indeed, the story of the first Christmas holds plenty to marvel and wonder at! As a side note, one resource Driscoll does recommend for parents of younger children is the below Veggie Tales movie Saint Nicholas. (Has anyone viewed it?)
*My disclaimer is that I do not hold my way of “doing Christmas” as the perfect or only way. Besides, my hunch is that what we emphasize and embrace will impress our children even more deeply than what we downplay or ignore, so let’s keep rolling…
Our first Christmas with Reed (this past Christmas) originally prompted some discussion about what we would do in our home to help our children understand what Christmas is all about. One thing we decided to change right away was our gifting habits. For the last several years, Matt and I have been less intentional about exchanging gifts. For example, this year we got smart phones and just declared them our Christmas to one another… and we didn’t actually get them until March! (In defense, we do always fill stockings for one another!) We decided we want to be very purposeful about modeling giving in love... We celebrate with giving to others because God gave us the greatest gift—His Son Jesus. Mommy loves Daddy, and she picked out this little gift just for him. Daddy loves mommy and he got her this gigantic diamond necklace… just kidding. :) But you get the point. We thought it would be a good idea to be more intentional in all of our giving (family, friends, others in need), making the giving—picking out something to bless someone—even more fun than receiving.
We also bought our first family gift from the World Vision Catalog. We actually let Reed “pick out” what he wanted to send- it was great! As Reed gets older, we want to help him understand more and more of what the gifts are and how they help families in other countries. How fun if giving, especially to the neediest in the world, became one of his most treasured parts of the Christmas season …or life!
I have a couple of beloved traditions for stockings, both of which I came across several years ago and have modified, but I have no earthly idea where I originally read about them- apologies!
Notes: First up is an idea where each family member writes down a favorite memory from that year about each other family member and puts them in the respective stockings on Christmas Eve. I love this, and I hope that my kids treasure their little notes more than their other loot. I know I will! As an alternative, you could do something like this as a New Year Tradition.
Buttons: The second tradition is to give each person a button for Christmas that represents something special and unique about that year for that person. For example, a bike button for the year Reed learns to ride a bike, or a lizard when he gets (never!) a pet lizard... or whatever stands out from each year. You sew these onto the back of the stockings before you pack them away, and as your children grow, they end up with a keepsake that tells a special story. You could even make a fun evening of taking down the Christmas decorations together and include this tradition. I think the original idea had a button under each person's plate at dinner. I started this 2 years ago and put a heart-shaped button in Matt’s stocking and in mine, to represent our last Christmas just the two of us. This past Christmas, I got each of us (Matt, Reed, and myself) a shamrock button to remind us of Reed coming into our lives in 2010! (Reed was born on St. Patrick's Day). This all sounds so corny when I write it out, but I love it!
As I’m writing this, it is becoming apparent that just this Christmas post could be broken down into several different days, so I will leave you with the above traditions ideas and wrap it up tomorrow with a few more. Plus, Reed just got up from his nap and is standing up on his own holding a cardboard box over his head... How lame if he learns to walk while I am blogging--and about traditions and memories. Ciao!