Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A New Discovery About Christmas

Maybe I'm a bit slow but I've just figured out why presents aren't such a big deal for Christmas. It's because there is so much more that is even better about the season.

Think about it. If Christmas entailed little more than opening presents from under the tree and a good meal, then for most, the presents would be the highlight. It's no wonder that children are focused upon presents and Santa Claus. He's the one that brings the best presents and what else is Christmas for?

 But what if Christmas was a whole lot more?
Would the presents and their list for Santa Claus be at the fore front of children's thoughts? Would we be so harried shopping and wrapping present?

 What if Santa Claus brought what was in the stockings and maybe just a little bit more? That way the biggest presents would come from Dad and Mom. And what if they limited their gift giving too?

I've thought a great deal on this subject since when I was little, Santa Claus brought BIG presents - bikes, skis etc. Then divorce entered the picture and things changed--  dramatically. All of a sudden, Santa Claus was poor just like us. Or was he? Somehow he managed to give other little girls and boys big gifts even though those things didn't come to our house.

 The complexities of this confused me. Not that I was upset by the change in presents. Especially since I didn't know I wanted skis and I got a pair because everyone else was getting a pair. I did want the bike though. 


Funny me, I was the child that got a troll doll for Christmas and then learned that they were the fad. The same thing happened often as I had no idea what other little girls were suppose to want.  Yes, I was rather out of the popular loop but then my Mom wasn't and made sure her daughter had some of those items even though her Autistic child didn't care a lick. We kind of funny that way. 

What was disturbing

Something I was not going to have happen to my own children when they grew up and it didn't. They slipped on his coat as soon as they didn't believe anymore and they became Santa Claus for each other and for others outside the family. They told me that it was the wasn't in the least disappointing since being Santa Claus was a whole lot more fun.  

So if like me, you've wondered if Christmas is little more than presents and a good meal, then it's time to put your emphasis in another direction. Frankly, I think we need to return to stocking stuffers and one gift. I'm working my way back in that direction. For I've discovered that Christmas is a whole lot more than food and gifts under the tree.

Don't let me mislead you into thinking that we had terrible Christmases as a child. We didn't. They were lovely. They just felt incomplete. 

 So began my quest to find the spirit of Christmas when I had my own children.

We DID all kinds of things. When the kids were little we caroled with dairy goats transformed into reingoats with a little red lipstick on their nose and cardboard antlers. Meanwhile we changed Christmas carols like Rudolf The Red Nose Reindeer to Angie The Dear Old Reingoat. We were a hit everywhere we stopped and if we dared not go to the same house the next year, we were sorely chastised. 

(I wrote about it in a blog in 2009 and I've linked to it if you happen to need a good chuckle. )

We also took our kids on trips to foreign countries without leaving our home by celebrating their Christmas traditions and food. One year it was Mexico that became our focus and our celebration included a pinata in the shape of a duck that Kirk and I built with water, flour, and newspaper that we'd put candy in.  

The kid's beat the tar out of that duck with a thick dowel but it refused to break open. We still laugh about that stupid duck.  

We also giggle about the time Kirk dressed up in my nightgown and played the role as Jule Tomte making sure when he knocked on our front door for the kids to let him in that none of the neighbors saw him. We were celebrating a Swedish Christmas.
 And so we continue with our children and grandchildren to celebrate Christmas by DOING. Every year is a bit different as we change our activities to fit those family members present. Since the grand kids are old enough to be able to ring the doorbell and run and hide this year, we plan on baking cookies for them to take to neighbors and friends. Our kids always loved that.  
And since we have some budding artists, they'll once again draw with Crayola window markers decorating our big picture window.

For us as Christians, the Savior's birth is the reason for our celebration and since the grand kids have the story down pretty well having played with the children's nativity set and acting out the story for a few years now, we will move to the stage, our living room, with some family members donning bathrobes, another donkey ears and tail, while yet others baa... like sheep.

And we won't stop there for we are going to make a gingerbread house, I mean stable, from grahmn crackers with Halloween's candy being transformed into Mary, Joseph, shepherds, etc. to fill out the nativity scene.

Throw in a school concert , a community concert (which we will sing in), activities at the library, rec-center, a church party, a few charitable activities for those in need, and we will have a DOING Christmas.

How can one be focused in on gifts and Santa Claus when there is so... much more to the holiday. As I begin DOING or in other words celebrating Christmas, I feel the baw humbug feelings  and the pressure created by shopping, wrapping, and gift making take a back seat. And just maybe next year, I'll have my gifts done early. That way I can fully bask in the spirit of Christmas.

So go on. Decide what you like best about Christmas. If it is the music then be sure and go to a concert or buy a new CD or two. If your favorite thing is being around family and friends, then maybe your gifts should be in that line, such as tickets to take someone to an activity they'd love or a dinner party.  Share your talents by giving of yourself. A skein of yarn, a hook, and promises to teach someone to crochet or knit makes a memorable gift that includes hours of fun.
Since family is what Christmas is all about for us, we have simplified the Christmas Eve and Day menu to keep us girls out of the kitchen and sat down playing games, and playing in the snow with the kids.

Just maybe if we cut out some of the things under the tree and start DOING more, we might just discover those hum bug feelings departed and a VERY Merry Christmas has snuck in.
What are your DOING plans for Christmas? I'm always looking for new ideas.

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