Peace, Love and Other Junk

Approximately 30 seconds after the kids finished trick-or-treating, the Christmas catalogs began arriving. Since then, my kids have made lists of things they want, as well as yelling “I WANT THAT” every time a commercial for said items plays. Since we don’t have the luxury of a DVR (a modern day convenience whose absence has begun to make me feel Amish) we have to sit through any and all of these commercials. Fortunately we limit TV watching, but even in that limited time the kids are bombarded by tons of reasons that Christmas has become all about the getting and not much about the giving.

Santa has a big presence in our household, but for reasons one may not expect. My husband and I have always valued Santa as an example of selfless giving for our kids. Here is this man, someone we have never met, who gives us gift simply for the joy of it. Just because he loves us. How wonderful!

Many of our Christmas traditions were created to strengthen that idea and cancel out the “give me-give me-give me’s”. Every year around Thanksgiving, we have the kids sort through their toys and designate at least three items that they are willing to donate to charity. Usually these items are toys long outgrown, and although it serves to help clear out clutter, it also allows the kids to feel a sense of generosity in giving to those in need.

For those of you who know us, this next example will be a bit of a spoiler … so pretend I didn’t tell you. Every year we pick out a few families and put together homemade mini gifts for them. We always attach a card and sign it, ‘Love, Santa.’ A few weeks before Christmas, we leave the gifts on doorsteps, ring the doorbell, and run. The kids have gotten pretty good at hiding behind trees and bushes and outrunning barking dogs without getting caught. They LOVE this tradition and are thrilled by the secret they are keeping. This has come to be the Christmas tradition the kids most look forward to.

This past summer, my 9-year-old asked one-too-many questions and we felt it was time to sit him down and tell him the truth about Santa. As we selected our words carefully, we told him that Santa is real, but he is a feeling. He is the desire to be generous, the desire to love, the desire to make others happy without expecting anything in return. This magical feeling is there to help us to remember and celebrate the reason for Christmas – the birthday of the Baby Jesus.

In spite of how much our family tries to make the Christmas season about love and joy and selflessness, my kids still spend most of their time thinking about what they want and should get. However, I am hoping that our attitude about gift giving will rub off on them some day. Avery asked us the other day if he could help be Santa for his sisters. I look at that as a pretty good start.

How do your Christmas traditions reflect your attitudes about the Holidays?

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