Around Christmas last year, I found this on Pinterest.
It started some conversations and they haven’t stopped. So this year, we’ve headed into the Christmas season with specific plans and intense focus.
I know that probably sounds a little extreme, but we are determined to make Christmas fun and enjoyable for our kids, but keep the focus on Christ and less on presents. We still want presents to be a part of our holiday because, come on, it’s Christmas and there has to be presents, but we want to be noticeably different as Christians because we’re celebrating something more important than a time for presents.
We’re focusing more on giving to others (through our church, through families at my school, through donations, etc.) and less on how many presents we can shove under our tree. Normally, I start Christmas shopping in the summer, slowly putting away gifts when I come across a good deal or something I know someone will love. It was good for our wallet and made the holidays seem a little less hectic because I felt ahead of the game.
But that process also made it easier to get more gifts for our kids. Less intentional and more random. More toys than they needed. Buying stuff to buy stuff.
So this year that has stopped. I have one present bought as of today. We are very careful when picking the gifts for our kids this year, making sure each one is special and important because it’s only one of four. It’s made shopping different for the better.
The way we’ve interpreted the above four-gift rule:
Want: one toy present
Wear: one new outfit
Read: one book or set of books
Need: shoes for Elliott and we’re not sure about Harper’s need yet.
Isn’t that silly? Harper doesn’t even have a need—but in year’s past we would have spent a couple hundred dollars giving her new stuff. And she doesn’t even need anything. It’s embarrassing, really.
We’ve also struggled with the Santa thing: I love the magical Santa idea and the fun that goes with that. But we don’t want to sacrifice the story of Jesus for fun with Santa. Also, we’re aware more than ever about making sure our kids know that things cost money, that Mommy and Daddy worked hard to pay for these gifts, and we need you to be thankful for that God-given ability. So in the Graham house, Santa brings the stockings (candy, little toys, junk, etc.) and Mommy & Daddy buy the gifts. I think that’s a pretty fair deal.
My parents and Chris’ mom are on-board our four-gift rule also. It’s been encouraging to have our family’s support in making these changes and refocusing our Christmas.
I’m already anxious for Ellie to see the toy we got her—she’s going to flip. Although, she has also talked non-stop about a $250 doll house she saw in a toy catalog and thinks she’s getting it. So that might be a letdown. What do you and your family do at Christmas? How do you handle the Santa thing? Every family is different and this is what works (hopefully) for us–what works for you?
Added bonus (for those of you that made it through this long post): We’ve been reading a lot about Christmas and one book that has been really helpful in setting the tone for our Christmas is Precious Moments: My Christmas Bible Storybook. It’s full of Bible stories, songs, and texts geared toward young kids that helps make the real Christmas story accessible and tangible. Ellie especially loves it and since it’s a board book, it’s survived daily “reads” from a one year old also. And because ’tis the season for giving, the book’s publisher, Thomas Nelson, has offered to give one copy of the book to a lucky Trusty Chucks reader. All you have to do is enter the rafflecopter giveaway below–good luck!
(sneak peak the book here.)
DISCLOSURE: I WAS GIFTED THE ABOVE BOOK, BUT ALL OPINIONS ARE MINE.