Friday, November 25, 2011

What if Christmas Lasted All Year Long?

Yes, my title is cheesy. It's cheesy because everyone knows that it won't happen. A nice, quaint phrase that goes really well in a song. Maybe. I think it might depend on what your definition of Christmas is.

I am once again I am debating how to celebrate. I love, love, love the holidays. And I hate the holidays.

I know most people get excited with Christmas and children, how magical it all is to bring so much joy to their little hearts. I love bringing joy to my children's little hearts. Just not necessarily in the form of Christmas packages.

It is exciting to get so many presents, but after the ripping of paper and squeals are over, it's just another day. Maybe even a downer.

Last year, all the girls wanted Baby Alive. And since they each get $20 to spend on a name drawing, Baby Alive was gotten. I kid you not. One month later, they loathed Baby Alive. I don't believe that this is Christmas Magic.

January is often a very depressing month: 1) because it's winter and there is not enough sunshine to keep our spirits up and 2) It follows the holidays. If Christmas is that great, why does it make us feel all cheery just for one month?

The spirit of Christmas that brings joy to our hearts, at the risk of sounding cliche', is not in presents. It is tradition, family and friends, loving, forgetting everything else to put your effort into being jolly. And it's really about giving.

Christmas has been blown up to unreasonable hype for one reason: money. Greed. Good advertising. That has nothing to do with the spirit of Christmas.

So this year, I'd like to do something a little different. I want to embrace the things about this holiday season I love, but eliminate the things I hate. Because just because something is the way it is, it doesn't mean it has to stay that way.

And I do think that there is a huge potential for a wonderful holiday season. It's Jesus's birthday! And I love Jesus.

Here is my plan:

1) Advent envelopes that will include one gift or activity each day in December until Christmas. Here are some ideas:

  • make Christmas ornaments
  • make a gingerbread house
  • look at Christmas lights
  • write a Christmas story together
  • draw/paint a nativity poster
  • act out a play
  • send Christmas cards
  • donate used clothes to someone in need
  • Christmas movie night
  • (gift) fancy socks
  • put up mistletoe
  • bake sugar cookies (or peppernuts!)

2) The children always draw names. We usually go to Wal-Mart to shop since I only give them $20, there is quite a selection, and because any change goes directly into the Salvation Army buckets. Wal-Mart still allows the bell ringers (at least as far as I know).

3) They will get one gift that will be shared- some electrical device that most everyone else already has :) It will be small, not messy, and will be shared! And well used, I believe. As for the rest of my gift list, I like to buy gifts that also benefit someone else. Here are some ideas.

Bead for Life helps Ugandan women
Ergon helps women in India
Water for Christmas etsy shop helps supply clean water around the world
Fair Trade helps provide a living for people all around the world
This bracelet is gorgeous! From the World Vision catalog.

4) Since we don't believe in Santa Claus, on Christmas morning we will read the real story of St. Nicholas and look in our stockings, where they will see what has been given in their name. Maybe a duck, sheep, clean water, or fruit trees? And probably some candy. Here are some gift catalogs:

World Vision
Samaritan's Purse
Amazima Ministries

5) Otherwise, we will continue our family traditions. We will exchange gifts with extended family. We will soak up the joy. But I think that if we want it to be truly meaninful, giving will bless us and others much longer than one month. I'm really excited about this. And I am thankful that we have the resources to be givers.

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