...because we all have our motley moments!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Traditions...or Not

I get a little panicky when people start asking about my family's Christmas traditions. In truth, we didn't have any. Most of the time my dad had to work, but sometimes he didn't. Some years we opened the presents on Christmas morning, some years on Christmas Eve, and one year we opened them on the 23rd. We spent some holidays in Alabama with my extended family, but most were spent at home. My mother might be the least sentimental person ever. One year she opted for a "theme" tree and didn't hang any of my childhood ornaments. When I married she gave me all said ornaments. I love fresh trees and begged for one every year. My mom usually gave in, but when I was in high school she bought a fake tree on sale. Arrrrrggggghhhhhh!!!!
I love Christmas. I love cold weather and trees and carols and hot chocolate and live nativities and Advent calendars and crowded church services. Working out the family togetherness gives me heartburn, but I really do love the whole season, especially now that I have children. We are trying to start some traditions for our kids. The year I was pregnant with Ethan my in-laws gave us a homemade Advent calendar. There are pockets for each day and in every pocket is a Bible verse or quote and something to attach to the Christmas tree on the calendar. Most of the items are personalized, such as an Alabama jersey or a tae kwon do top. I send out Christmas cards and this year we're even going to do a Christmas letter. We celebrate Christmas morning at our house, with just our family, then the extended family comes over later for breakfast and we open presents with them. We ALWAYS get a real tree. We open one present on Christmas Eve. We drive around and look at Christmas lights often. My husband and I set a dollar limit on gifts for each other, but gifts that fit in the stocking don't count (it's an unspoken rule). We draw names with his family. We adopt a family from the Care Center. We have 2 nativity scenes - both kid-friendly - my MIL made one and the other is the Fisher-Price plastic one.
One thing I am torn on, and welcome ideas about, is Santa Claus. I don't think he's evil or anything, and I agree that kids can learn about faith in God through faith in Santa. It's just, well, I don't like lying to my kids. I don't like telling Ethan this elaborate story and insisting it's true when it isn't. Not that I've never lied to him, but I really try not to. Honesty is important to me. I didn't believe in Santa for long - when I was 4 my dad took me outside and told me the truth - but my husband did and for him it was great fun. I want my kids to have fun and I don't want them to miss out, but still, I don't want to lie. Help?


Maria said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maria said...

It's a tough one, for sure. Santa will visit our house this year and bring something special for each child. Nothing extravagant. One wants and Barbie and my other girl wants a toy reindeer. Well, really a live reindeer, but we've talked about the logistics of that!

I'm trying to talk more about Jesus than Santa. I remember the excitement of Santa and Christmas as a child and want my kids to experience that too. I'm thinking this will probably be the last year of it so I'm just going with the flow for now.

Rachel said...

We struggle with this, too. I actually know a girl whose sister is still angry with their parents because of the "lying about Santa" thing. She's in her thirties. I don't really see your kids as being that, um, uptight, though. Our solution may be to just let nature take its course--we will just let our guy create the story on his own without a whole lot of intervention from us. That way, it's more of him using his imagination than us using ours. I'm sure it will work perfectly :)

Liz said...

Thanks, ladies, for the food for thought. And what's up with leaving a comment then deleting it. Not fair!

Donna said...

We definitely love having these make-believe characters help us commemorate special seasons and holidays in our lives. The toothfairy helps celebrate the "loss" of a tooth, the Easter Bunny leaves special Spring gifts (eggs and chicks, a few small things) to celebrate the new life we have in Jesus, and Santa (or the Spirit of St. Nicholas) visits to spread the cheer of each Christmas season and leaves special gifts, the way God left us his Ultimate Gift on Christmas.

I think I would have felt robbed if my parents hadn't given me the gift of Santa's magic. It's only one part of our Christmas tapestry of traditions, though. Another integral part is learning the joy of giving, modeled by St. Nick, even as we look forward to receiving.

Karly said...

My husband beat up a kid in second grade because the other kid was saying Santa wasn't real. He has such strong feelings about it still, so we don't do Santa at our house. I didn't grow up with Santa at our house, and I really didn't feel like I missed out. My parents had a tradition of hiding our presents all around the house on Christmas morning. We had a blast searching high and low for our presents, and then taking turns opening all of them. As adults we still love this tradtion.

Last year, I just let my oldest believe whatever he wanted about Santa. He was convinced that Santa was the one who put the presents in our stockings and could not be convinced otherwise. This year he is asking specific questions about Santa which I have answered truthfully. We read a book about the real St. Nick. Now we have moved on to really focusing on Jesus and the reason we celebrate Christmas. The advent wreath has been awesome. We do a reading out of the bible every night when we light the candle. We have an advent calendar with the Nativity characters. We have a wrapped box that can be opened under our tree--a birthday present for Jesus, and we write down things that we are doing (good deeds, etc.) to make Jesus happy for his birthday and put them into the box.

In the end, you have to figure out what works for you and your family. Good Luck!

Karly said...

Oh, and we give three presents per child like the three wisemen brought three presents to baby Jesus. Plus some little things in their stockings. Which my almost five year old now knows are filled by me.