I feel the end of year drawing to a close, music concerts are almost over and extra-murals done… and I feel a sigh of relief and a a sense of rest is at hand. It has been kind of a crazy year and we are nearly half way into to December and we are all pretty much relaxing into summery and lazy afternoons around the pool. And yet I sense a certain franticness in the world around us… The first thing folks say when you chat with them is how many days it is until Christmas and how much they have to achieve before then.
It all began around 1 November. The stores overnight became frantic, and some stores even before then… our mailbox is stuffed with seasonal specials… you know, cans of baked beans half their normal price or dubious deals on really expensive electronic items. Frankly neither electronics or baked beans form a major part of our Christmas celebration and the advertisements are somewhat unrelated to the whole event. The thing about Christmas is that it is celebrated for all sorts of reasons by all sorts of folk, wether they believe in the birth of Jesus or not. Most folk around the world will at least munch on a mince pie and swap gifts. And then of course there is the other Christmas camp… you get folk who won’t have anything to do with Advent or Christmas trees, anything… because there is no proof that 25 December is the actual birthday of Jesus… and all these traditions are just the trappings of ancient pagan celebrations… Those folk would rather do anything else than receive a gift or have a family dinner.
Yes, it is a mad, mad world we live in!!! But where does that leave us? What do we need to do to teach our children about their Christian heritage? For us as a family we really do celebrate Christmas… in a very simple non-commercial kind of way… but we celebrate none-the-less because we want our children to grow up delighting in the Lord, with all their hearts… And a huge event filled with too much of the “special” and the crazy chaos of more gifts and more stuff and more outings can be just as stifling as no celebration… the trick is to find the happy medium… between completely indulging our children on the one hand and on the other hand forgetting that we are their teachers and they need to know about their Christian heritage.
The question is, how do you celebrate without going over the top… how do you celebrate with out getting caught up in the frantic… and for many folk, how do you come out of the Christmas season relaxed and rested and ready to start a fresh year?
- We will craft an Advent Calendar: It sets the scene… and everyone knows that it is a special time of year… a time to think about crafting and a time to make spicy biscuits… A time for glittery cards. A time for christmas carols and familiar bedtime stories… for making little gifts and sheets and sheets of gift wrap… We will haul out the Christmas Box that is packed with fond memories…
- Schedule in Free Time: We do have an open house and we do get a lot of visitors at this time year – we live in a holiday town after all and as everyone heads to the beach likes stop by and visit. We keep our schedule as clear as we can so that when folk drop by we are not rushing out the door or under pressure to be somewhere else… we want to give our friends our time and attention. So we have no big projects planned for December – ever… we know we will have guests and we know there will be ambles on the beach… a couple of fun traditions… and for this time of year… that’s probably enough for us!!!
- We Read the Same Books Every Year: And a couple fresh ones… My kids know that we are going to read through the story of Christmas as we rotate through our picture bibles each night, and they know we are going to read the Christmas Carol and they know we are going to read One Wintry Tale. Same books every single year… It is a tradition, and gives us a sense of the being part of the season.
- We will bake Christmas Cookies: In fact we will probably do that twice!!! It is fun and they make fabulous instant gifts for neighbours and drop in visitors. There is no point in making them in October… cookies are best when they are fresh from the oven and shared on the day!!!
- Gifting Friends and Family: We do gift our friends and family, but not every single person we know… So really it is a handful of gifts and there is absolutely no need for us to have a special christmas gift budget… and definitely no need to go into the store. We all know that shops at this time of year are a nightmare… crushing of people trying to grab the latest and greatest… so much stuff and it is not just packed with stuff to tempt our kids, I find myself walking out of stores thinking that I need all sorts of things that before I went into the store I didn’t even know that I wanted… Most of our gifts we make, and we have quite strict criteria and my kids work hard at creating beautiful gifts for their friends. This year we will be using our Preserving book to make our gifts and we have been happily collecting jars to this end. And very often we make gifts that we have made before and that we know have worked!!!
- We will have Christmas Dinner: But the entire house doesn’t need to be pre-prepared and I don’t need to have scrubbed the front stairs or cleaned the skirting in order for our guests to feel relaxed and welcome… In fact, nice as it is to have everything perfect… perfect potatoes and perfect table settings… a couple of bloopers will be forgiven and forgotten… No one will remember next Christmas or ten Christmas’s from now that you didn’t have enough plates and someone had dinner off a side plate!!! What you want folk to remember is that it is the special day to remember the birth of Jesus and a warm welcome and attentive little hosts are more memorable than matching cutlery or if you have ice-cream or custard with your dessert or not!!!
- We will gift each other: Our kids do get stockings with a couple of little treats in them… really it is pretty much the same every year – the stuff they love!!! But the most important gifting that goes on in our house is the sibling swap… our kids put their names in a hat and pick out who they will be creating for… and the most amazing and creative gifts spring together in secrecy. Really this is Christmas for our kids… the great sibling gift swap!!!
- It is a time to remember others: We try and remember the grannies that my children seem to collect throughout the year at Christmas time and invite folk round that we hardly ever see… And keep in mind that there are plenty of folk that we know who have a difficult time with Christmas and who always worry that they are imposing on us and never just pop round for a visit. For them especially it is time to roll out the hospitality mat and invite them over for a visit.
And the se7en + 1th…
And every year as we wander through Advent we will create a new and special Nativity… Piece by piece and day by day, with baby Jesus arriving in the manger on Christmas morning…
So that is what we do around here for Christmas, it is pretty lazy and laid back… and to be honest so far we have made a couple of cards and we have a list of gifts to make… We are reading christmas stories and the house is resounding with young musicians and their christmas carols… it sure feels like christmas… but it really isn’t frantic at all!!!
Every year we write Christmas posts… and I have gathered them altogether on one Christmas Page for our readers so that they can find anything they are looking for for Christmas in one spot: recipes, heaps of easy to make gift ideas and so on… you can click on the yellow button and head straight there if you would like to read more.
This post forms part of the Focus on the Nativity Blog Hop with heaps of Kid-bloggers joining in:
The Imagination Tree Living Montessori Now target="_blank">Kindergarten & Preschool for Parents & Teachers My Nearest And Dearest Life At The Zoo Creative Connection for Kids This Reading Mama Adventures in Mommydom Train up A Child Rainy Day Mum 3 Dinosaurs Crafty Mom Share The Magic Of Play Sun Hats and Wellieboots The Fairy and The Frog Housing a Forest The Iowa Farmers Wife Mommy & Me Book Club Craft To Art The Golden Gleam Here Come The Girls Mamas Like Me In Lieu Of Preschool Kids Creative Chaos My Small Potatoes Love Play And Learn Kids World Citizen Se7en