During a trip to Wal-Mart last month, I decided to peruse the toy aisle to get some ideas for Christmas gifts. As I was looking at Littlest Pet Shop Pets and My Little Pony toys, I started to see this "stuff" for what it is -- STUFF! It's a bunch of plastic that someday will end up in a Goodwill bag after the kids have outgrown it.
I started pondering WHY was I out looking for gifts for no reason except to simply BUY GIFTS?!?! Yes, we're celebrating Christ's birth, but why does that have to involve tons of STUFF? The idea of gift giving just for the sake of gift giving seemed shallow and empty.
I've spent the past month pondering that overwhelming sense of shallowness I experienced in Wal-Mart that day. I determined that this year, Christmas WILL be different. I already have a small stockpile of gifts for the kids purchased on clearance and at yard sales. I've had handmade gifts for my family and close friends finished for weeks. I decided that I AM DONE. No more time, energy, or money will be spent on gifts this year. In fact, I put some of the gifts I have aside for birthdays for the next year!
I'm now focusing on re-working our Christmas celebration. Advent will become a bigger part of our season. I decided to make an Advent wreath (after wanting to buy one for years but they are just expensive!) and I pulled out an Advent devotional we have. We'll be reading "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" as a family. I'm looking for a way to make an Advent calendar that doesn't include Christmas trees, Santa, or little mice. I'm thinking of adding a piece of hay each day during Advent to a manger in one of our (many!) nativity sets.
Another "kink" in our Christmas celebration is that we are a "blended family" and our eldest daughter never arrives before December 23rd (or so) and every other year (like this year) doesn't arrive until December 26th. I certainly don't want to spend every other Christmas celebrating without her! We decided that our family will have our big Christmas celebration on December 26th or 27th every year. I'm hoping this will help take the focus off the presents and put it back where it belongs. We'll spend Christmas day baking a cake for a birthday celebration for Jesus and decorating for a party. At the end of that party on the 26th or 27th, we'll open gifts. The twelve days of Christmas, the true Christmas season, runs from December 26th until January 6th. I really like celebrating during this time and this new tradition falls right in!
Christmas is going to look very different in our home this year and I hope it is also more meaningful for all of us!