December 6, 2011

True Meaning of Christmas (the next Charlie Brown special)

I've had these jumbled up thoughts in my head for almost a week now and have been trying to get to the computer to sort them out (I've tried talking about it multiple times, but my mouth, unfortunately, doesn't have a backspace button), but I've been busier than normal. In a good way. I've allowed myself a little more freedom in my social life area and it's done my soul a ton of good. Most importantly, I helped friends get ready for Nancy's sweet baby shower that was held on Sunday. Nancy and I discovered we had locked up talent that was dying to be let out.

Not perfect, but keep in mind that this was the first time either of us had ever even touched fondant.
 And Ashley convinced me that I need a Cricut when we worked on this together.

I seriously want one so very badly. Good thing my birthday is in March because my Christmas present was used up with a camera. Which I love.
 Speaking of Christmas.. let's get down to the point.

Growing up, Santa was EXTREMELY good to us. The presents always extended far out, half way across the living room. It was SO MUCH fun. I'll always have warm, fond memories of waking up on Christmas morning and seeing the room dimly lit by the tree and other decorations, and feeling the magic of Santa Clause even as an adult. Having younger brothers helped too. I'll always remember both of their excitement.. coming to frantically wake me up so I could see what Santa brought. We'd all sit down in the living room, my mom with her coffee, camera, and a huge grin on her face. My dad with his OJ, trash bag, and sweat pants telling us all to "relax". Ha! He loved it all just as much.. I think we were all just a little too hyper for him.. and I'm not sure why the sweat pants stick out so much.. but they really do. We'd open a present one by one, each taking turns and would stop half way through to refill drinks and maybe get a little something to much on. This was like a two hour affair.. at least. I loved it. I have such great memories of Christmas with my family.

Which makes my conflicting ideals that much more difficult. I'm struck with my strong dislike of the commercial side of the holiday this year more than any others. The constant countdown reminders of how many days you have left to shop. How Black Friday might as well have started on Thanksgiving itself. I'm seeing people break the bank.. literally.. trying to get gifts for everyone they feel obligated to buy for.

We're choosing not to do that this year and it's a great feeling. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE to give. It's one of the best feelings. But it becomes such a hassle around Christmas. I hate that gift giving is EXPECTED.  I hope this isn't coming out wrong. I want to give.. within our means. And that's what we're doing this year. My side of the family usually gets a gift for everyone.. this year we're doing a $25 limit Chinese gift exchange. It's going to be a blast and we'll be able to just be. Together.

In our immediate family.. Trey, Drew and I.. I want to focus on the real meaning of Christmas in the years to come. I want to talk to our kids about Jesus' birth. To show them what it's really all about. To teach the importance of giving.. ironically. But giving to those that have less. We'll still have all of the fun decorations and Santa will be a part, but I don't know that we'll have presents filling up the living room on Christmas morning.

I saw this on Pinterest the other day.. which is what sparked all of this.

A big part of me wants to stick with this. The item they want and read can be from Santa. The other two can be from us. If we do this, we can take whatever money left of what we budget and sponsor a child that may not receive anything.
We, as a family, may not have excess.. we may not have the best of things.. we definitely don't keep up with The Joneses in other words.. but we have plenty. We have everything we need. We are warm, clothed (even if I do have to do laundry twice a week), and always have food on the table. Andrew is in no shortage of books or toys. We take all of this for granted and I want to teach him that others may not have ANY of this, and we can be in a position to help.. if we don't spend all of our money of gifts for him that he may WANT but not NEED.

I can't help but go back to my fond memories growing up though, and feel like he'd be missing out on that. It's a smaller part of me that thinks like this, but it's obviously enough to cause some conflict. When he's older.. but still young.. how would I deal with the whole, "but Johnny gets a ton of gifts from Santa.. am I not being a good enough boy?" type of thing.

I'm probably thinking way too much into this, but that's what I do. I have no idea how I'd answer that.

Anyways, that's where we are and we'll sort it all out. In the meantime, we are very much enjoying our lower-key Christmas this year. It's going to get busy soon with traveling and chaos, but right now, it's calm, beautiful, and peaceful. And Andrew almost has putting coins in the Salvation Army bucket down pat.


Kristy said...

I grew up in a family that had a few select gifts under the tree as Mom and Dad tried hard not to break the meager bank account ... and I have all the same wonderful, heartfelt memories as you. It's not about the quantity of gifts, it's about the quality of time spent with those you love! :D

Kristy said...

I think you'll do a fabulous job teaching Andrew about the "true" meaning of Christmas! (Didn't want my first comment seem like I just thought you were talking only about presents!)

Mel said...

I think you will do a great job of instilling the values you want Andrew to have, regardless of how many gifts are under the tree.

Becca said...

I agree with Kristy. We were VERY broke growing up. My mom was a stay at home mom, because there were 8 children so all the financial responsibility was on my dad. But Christmas was still VERY special back then, even though we might not have even gotten a gift! I just loved what my mom put into it, even though she didn't have a lot of money to give gifts to her children... It was her favorite holiday so she made it special, because she LOVED it so much and that wore off on us kids. She would play Christmas carols from after thanksgiving til Christmas, bake bread and sugary goodies (a lot of times us kids wanted the good food more then a toy.) The house was always toasty warm while white snowy-fun fell softly outside. We always had the "feeling" of Chritmas in our house and what it was truely ment to feel like; time spent with family and love of one another. We were also definitely taught what Christmas was really about...

Now we have a baby girl coming into the world in March and I want to give her those same memories for her own, because I cherish them...It doesn't require grand gifts ( although, when you can afford them, it's a lot of fun to do too!) It just requires a love of one another and strong family connection which brings out the true meaning of Christmas:) A love of this time of year doesn't hurt either;) Sounds like you have this covered!!!

Tori said...

FYI, did you know Cricut just lauched the Cricut Mini?! I'm totes getting one...

Michelle A'etonu said...

i'm totally with you on this, but i wish i could act on it. i'm already stressed out trying to gift our entire family. they're all getting a bigger christmas than we will here in our little family of three! thanks for this post though. puts tons in perspective and brings back memories of my family christmases!

JG said...

Well I think most people have already said what I want to say, I'll just add that I think for all of us, our best childhood Christmas memories weren't about the actual gifts as much as the time spent with those who gave them. At least, I hope that's the case. I know it is with me.

I see this definitely being an issue in our future. I'm married to someone who's love language is giving gifts and who is incredibly competitive. Which right now means that I'm the only one who really keeps to a Christmas budget, which is fun sometimes (who doesn't like being spoiled) but I hope we can get to this place when kids come along and not try and make our focus on Christmas about how many gifts we can give our kids.

C. E. Welch said...

I didn't like Christmas growing up. I didn't care as much about the gifts, I didn't like squeezing tons of people into our house for a huge christmas dinner. I liked Channukah, because it was quiet, relaxing, and a time to simply enjoy the company of family and friends.

When you describe Christmas day with your family, you never mentioned any specific gift you got, but you described your family in detail. The gifts were fun, sure, but it's that time with your loved ones that seems to have really stuck with you. And I know you will give that to your little family now.

I also thought - might be fun to find a kid-friendly nativity scene for Andrew. I had a little ceramic nativity as a kid, and every year I would find a place to set it up. I would even build a little barn with my lincoln logs for them. Kept those lincoln logs for a long time just to set up my nativity scene every year.

Jenn said...

We're doing the same thing here this year too. We're building a new tradition where we only receive three gifts each, total. Since my son is only a year old, it's easy enough to start now, and we are not into receiving an excessive amount of gifts or BUYING an excessive amount of gifts.
We truly want to focus on why we started celebrating this season in the first place.
I'm sure your family will grow up with the same fond memories of Christmas that you have!