December 13, 2006

How We Do Christmas

Christmas Craziness. Just as my post yesterday says I love Christmas. What is it that I love....The spirit of the season (which is not easily found in the Walmart aisles), the focus on Christ's Birth, that's actually my favorite, the excitement of my kids counting down the days to Christmas morning, 2 weeks playing with my kids while they are on break, focusing on others and trying to figure out a meaningful gift for them.

I think that it is a stressful time for many because there is not enough funds to go around. My husband and I have set some guidelines for the Christmas season and we are part of a family that is also conscience about the money issues of the holidays. Here are some of the things we have done to make the season as stress free as possible.
1. Our kids get 3 gifts plus some stocking stuffers each. They get one gift that is their main gift from us then two smaller gifts. Santa brings one of those, so we buy 3 gifts total for each child. This is not easy, mainly because I want to make sure that the 3 gifts they get are something they really like and want and will use. There is no ... well maybe I will just get them this too. 3 gifts - Jesus received three gifts for His birth, my kids get 3 gifts to celebrate that birth. There has not been very many gifts that get tossed to the side and forgotten about, each of their gifts is normally played with and appreciated. Sometimes the stocking stuffers add up, I will do some and Rob's mom is thoughtful and will pass on some stocking stuffers too. What happens when I find the most perfect gift 3 days before Christmas and I have already wrapped 3 gifts, I either unwrap a gift and return it and buy the "perfect" gift, or I put the "perfect" gift on my list for the birthdays which days or weeks after Christmas.
2. I have a large extended family, we buy for each others kids, what ever we can afford, my kids have received dollar store gifts that they have loved and played with. I make alot of those gifts, this year I am making all of those gifts. It is not about the money spent, it is more about finding something that the child will love, my daughter Sophie received a dish towel from someone a couple of years ago, each time she helps me in the kitchen she uses her dish towel with the kitty on it. That relative knew she loved kitty's and loved helping in the kitchen, voila, perfect gift that she is using 3 years later, dollar store gift!
3. Scripture Exchange, the adults in our family do something called a scripture exchange. We each bring a wrapped gift for a gift exchange. This is like the typical gift exchanges you have done, draw a number, pick a gift when it is your turn, because scripture is involved - you know when the Lord is involved it is not good to steal, so we do not steal these gifts. You pick the gift, read the scripture on it, then the person who brought the gift makes a note of who picked their gift and prays that scripture for that person all year long. These gifts can be a handwritten scripture in a frame, a coffee mug from the Christian bookstore that has a meaningful scripture on it, it doesn't matter what it is, but it must have a scripture on it.
After this exchange we go around the room with someone keeping notes and share our praises and struggles and give our family our concerns to keep in their prayers for the following year. And then the note keeper gets copies to everyone through email or hardcopy. Then we...
4. White Elephant. $10 limit and the gloves are off, we pick numbers again and we choose a gift on our turn that can be stolen up to 3 times, each year I bring a big back of peanut m and m's for this and it is always a big hit. Sometimes people do a white elephant exchange that is filled with old used stuff, but that is not the kind we do, we do real gifts just keep the limit at $10. We laugh and steal and then in the end, we have made memories that we will remember for years to come.

This system works for our family. There is meaning and love throughout. Christ is the center.

Whenever I start getting frazzled about all the demands of the holiday season I take a step back, take a deep breath, decide where that falls in the scheme of Christmas, if it is just a stressor I don't do it, unless it is a need or a service to someone who is in need. Then I will find a way, I will take the opportunity to help someone who is in need, because that is more important than anything else listed above, if the Lord has given me that opportunity then He will provide the means. My radar is always lifted a bit higher in this season because of the financial stress it puts on people. Some people can't afford one present for their child unless their food budget is cut, or they don't put gas in their car this week, those are the people I watch for. Those are the real tidbits of celebration of the season.

Since Jack got sick periphery things have simplified for me. If I was to die tomorrow, if my child was to die tomorrow, what is really important. Our relationship with the Lord is the only thing, are my actions bringing glory to Him, am I a beacon of light, or has the world covered me up so much that I just blend in and match everyone else, I strive and pray every day for the strength to be used by the Lord, all the other stuff is just that.


Anonymous said...

Great post!! I love the three gift idea.

Nicole said...

I am strating the three gifts idea this year. It really cut down on the gift buying and made me really think about what I was buying. Those are great tips though. I think that the smartest thing to so is buy throughout the year. I am just always afraid someone will change their mind. But still, I think that it would help.

Anna said...

I loved the 3 gift idea. I have never heard of that. That allows you to bring Christ into this season even more, and teach your kids what this holiday is really about. But it also helps the financial side as well!

Loved reading all of the things your family does at Christmas time. I am wanting to start some traditions with my family as my kids are getting older.

Thanks for sharing.

Anna said...

Hey...I just noticed on your occupation only have domestic have to add that you are a rockstar photographer!!! =) Because you ARE!!