I know Christmas isn't until December.
For a couple years, however, it's concerned me over the amount of commercialism there seems to be over the holiday.
I won't lie, though. I love decorating for the holiday, and listening to Christmas music. I'm one of those who put things up the day after Thanksgiving, too! My family loves to bake Christmas goodies and mail it to the grandparents and hand them out around town. And there's nothing wrong with all of that!
The problem lies when you turn your focus off of the true reason for the season and focus on me, me, me.
The amount of stuff my family receives each year for Christmas is mind-boggling. The amount of things we do for others throughout a whole year is sad.
I'm not ready to get rid of the Christmas tree and all the decorations, but we are ready to change some of our Christmas traditions.
We have long given up on anything Santa related. In previous years, we have left milk and cookies out, all the while giggling about what kind Daddy would like and how many he should have. My kids know the truth about Santa and we don't encourage Santa-pretending. We do, however, teach them to respect those who "do believe in Santa" and that it's something their moms or dads should teach them, not something that we do. I do not know if the tradition of leaving milk/cookies for Daddy out will continue, though.
We do enjoy doing for others during the Christmas season. When we moved to our small rural town just a couple weeks before Christmas 2010, we wanted people to know who we were and who we represented (the church my husband is the missionary for). We made a ton of cookies and other goodies and hand delivered them around town. This has since became a meaningful thing for us, a way for our family to reach out to those in our community. It's taken the focus off of us and put it on to others. This year will be no exception. We will continue to bake and deliver, though we are adding more places to our list and are contemplating doing more of a dinner delivery, rather just dessert.
Let's talk presents! This is a big one for me. Each year, we spend quite a lot of money on the kids, each other, and all our friends and family. This last year was especially hard for me because there wasn't a lot the kids needed, nor really wanted. I mean, truly wanted, not just saw something that looked cool and wanted it then. Why, oh why, do we spend SO much money and put forth SO much effort each year for material, worldly items? This year, hubby and I decided to set a limit (probably $20-$30) and draw names among the 6 of us. That will be the only present that person gets from an immediate family member. Friends and family will still be purchased/made as usual, but for us, it takes the focus off of, well, us. Maybe one year we will not buy any gifts for each other at all, who knows... but this year the extra money that would NORMALLY be spent on the 6 of us will be spent on others. We are talking about making donations to different cancer groups in honor or memory of those who matter, we are talking about doing more than just one Angel Tree, we are looking for ways to donate to those in need. For us, we are looking for ways to shift the focus from all the things I want for Christmas to those around us! We want Christmas to really be about giving, not getting.
It's just another way that God has been working at changing my family's heart this past year. We want Christmas to be such a special reflection on the birth of Christ and a way for our family to truly minister to others.
I've heard some people doing Jesse Trees and there are so many wonderful ways to keep the true meaning of Christmas in check. I'd love to hear how you handle Christmas for your family. Do you do a tree, decorations, Santa Clause? Do you exchange gifts?