Making Traditions

by Lesley on December 15, 2011 · 6 comments

in christmas

It’s our seventh married Christmas, and over the years we’ve almost completely failed when it comes to starting any real Christmas traditions. Oh sure–we almost always get our tree at Home Depot and fake fight the whole way home because the tree practically falls off the car. We fake fight over Christmas cards too because I’m always wanting to send them and Jonathan usually thinks the cost in doing so is too much. And many years I’ll make Buckeye cookies, while watching Home Alone or one of these other holiday flicks. On this little blog I have always done a holiday gift guide so I suppose that’s become a tradition as well.

For some reason adding a baby to our family has me thinking a lot more about what traditions we want to incorporate into future Christmases. Since Anna is only five months old I figure this is my year to plan for the many holiday seasons to come.

One of the things I’m most excited about doing is an advent calendar that includes activities such as getting a Christmas tree, reading the Christmas story, memorizing certain bible verses, and making craft gifts for grandparents. Pinterest has lots and lots of cute advent calendar ideas. One of my favorites, above, is from Skip to my Lou. I like it because it doesn’t require me to sew. I just need to start saving soup cans!

One thing I’m wrestling with is how to talk to Anna about Santa Clause. As I child, I LOVED believing in Santa Clause. I found the mystery to be magical and special until about eight years old when I asked my mom if Santa was really, really, real? She told me no, and to not tell my siblings, so I faked it for another 4+ years. I want Anna to have the same Santa experience I did but I also don’t want her to ever question why we lied to her about Santa, and I don’t want to her to confuse the truth of Jesus and the lie of Santa. If you’re not following me right now, I’d love for you to read this article, the Christmas Conundrum, by Jen Hatmaker about setting the right tone for Christmas when our children are young. It really rocked me in a good way.

So, I’m curious- how have you all handled the whole Santa experience with your kids?

One way we might talk about Santa is placing some of the conversation around St. Nicholas. I really enjoyed this blog post about St. Nick from Mama Monk. In it she says, “in many European countries St. Nicholas Day is a day for giving gifts or waking to filled stockings. It’s also a day where people are encouraged to follow in St. Nicholas’ footsteps and do something to actively care for the poor. (If you don’t know the story of St. Nicholas or where our modern day version of Santa and stockings comes from, refresh yourself here).”

I wonder if it’s possible to still have our children embrace the idea of Santa without following in our culture’s tendency to give him more emphasis than Christ? Perhaps spending an afternoon each St. Nicholas weekend, where we do something for a person or family in need, might help remind us all what truly matters at Christmas.

Another idea I really loved reading about this year from Jen Hatmaker’s article was sticking to a gift limit for your child. I like the idea of us, the parents, giving each child three gifts only: something they want, something they need, something to read. Three gifts kinda goes nicely with the three gifts Jesus was brought as a babe. It might be a nice way to make sure everyone is given to equally, mom doesn’t go insane, and kids aren’t (too) spoiled.

So, in the midst of thinking through this post I realized I hadn’t yet put together my annual gift guide. I decided that the idea I’m suggesting, of pairing back, doesn’t really go with me then telling y’all a bunch of stuff to purchase. All that translates to: no gift guide this year. There are so many great blogs out there with fun gift guides that you don’t need my opinion on such things anyway. I will say, as a hint, that I’ve done a lot of my gift shopping this year on Etsy in addition to some handmade/personalized gifts. I’m really excited to support individuals over big chains and stores…plus…my one outing to the mall yesterday had me in hives so I’m thankful my shopping has been done in the peace and quiet of nap-times.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Christmas traditions. What are some of your favorites? How did you family talk about Santa? Any seasoned advice for a new mom?

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6 comments
Lindsay M
Lindsay M

Growing up, my parents never led my brother and I to believe in Santa. Their thought was the conflict between saying Santa, The Easter Bunny, The Toothfairy and Jesus were all real. And then later saying, well actually, only Jesus is real. They didn't want to set us up for that kind of questioning and confusion. They gave us permission to believe if we chose, but did want to lead us to false beliefs. As an adult, I can tell you that I am not scarred by that experience. I did not feel like my childhood was missing "magic" because of knowing the truth. If anything, I remember times of going through an old-school Advent Calendar with Bible verses. And making a "Happy Birthday, Jesus" cake each year. For my family, not having the pretense of Santa allowed more focus on the present of Jesus.

susan
susan

as the boys grew, we started showing them that not just fat men in red suits were "santa".....people buying presents for children they had never met, people donating time, money, groceries, etc.....and a whole lot of others were all being "santa". somehow it became more of an adjective or verb instead of a noun.

Ashlee
Ashlee

I'm usually not one for excuses, but I've said it before and I'll say it again: pinterest is the devil. It makes me want all the things. :)

Lesley
Lesley

AQ- I bought slave-labor chocolate for Halloween. We're even. AG- I JUST read your post, like as I was working on this one, and I almost didn't hit publish because I didn't want to offend you or anyone else doing gift guides. I love them. I promise.

Ashlee
Ashlee

I love that you posted this on the same day I published a wishlist of nine things my unborn baby wants. *hands head in shame with Anna*

Anna Q
Anna Q

I can't believe we haven't talked about the Jen Hatmaker article yet! I am in exactly the same boat as you about this. Exactly. (Except that about 2 hours ago I just bought a bunch a slave-labor crap at Target instead of hand-made treasures on Etsy... *hangs head in shame*)