Folks, I love Christmas.
And I love giving gifts, for any and all occasions for any and all reasons. I love it.
Things I don't love?
The true meaning of Christmas getting lost.
Eight consecutive minutes of commercials telling kids that if their parents aren't buying them x, y, or z for Christmas then their parents don't actually love them. Usually airing during a t.v. special about remembering the meaning of Christmas.
So Hubs and I made a decision a few years ago to simplify our holiday season and to cut out unnecessary garbage that our consumerist culture seems to think is obligatory to celebrating the birth of the Savior.
Starting with the GIFTS.
It's because we're bad parents.
And hate Santa.
But that's what people think sometimes when they hear about our "rule" for gifts at the holidays. That we're channeling the Grinch (their hearts are three sizes too small!) or Ebenezer Scrooge (CHEAP!).
No. What we are is normal middle class Americans who are tired of the media and Big Box Stores TELLING us what WE NEED to have a "good" Christmas.
So we stopped listening.
A little refresher:
At the first Christmas, our Savior, Jesus Christ, was born to save all mankind from sin and separation from the God who made and love them.
"God rest ye merry, gentlemen,
let nothing ye dismay!
Remember Christ our Savior was born
on Christmas Day,
to save us all from Satan's fire
when we were gone astray!
Oh tidings of comfort and joy!"
People and angels rejoiced because he was and is the gift.
Shortly thereafter (okay, it was probably more like two full years after His birth, but let's not split hairs, here), the Christ Child and Holy Family were visited by Wise Men (the number has never been actually quantified, but it's generally accepted as having been Three) and presented with gifts (three gifts- hence the "three" kings thing):
"We Three Kings from Orient are
bearing gifts, we traverse afar;
Field and fountain,
moor and mountain,
following yonder star!
Oh, star of wonder, star of night!
Star with Royal beauty bright!
guide us to thy Perfect Light!"
When they met the Christ, they gave him three very costly and precious gifts, all of which would have been presented to a young prince at his birth:
Jesus received three gifts at Christmas.
So we receive three gifts at Christmas.
Well...actually, we receive three gifts from each other.
Everybody gets one from Santa. Because...it's Santa!
And we have a simple formula that we use for choosing gifts for each person:
Something you want,
Something you need,
Something you wear,
Something you read.
And that's it!
The "Something you want" is your gift from Santa and is usually the biggest/most expensive thing you get for the year.
I think that this formula covers all of everyone's needs for the year - mind, body, and heart - without putting pressure on us as married partners and parents to go nuts so that our kids and loved ones know how much we love them.
Because I don't want Toys 'R' Us, Walmart, Target, or anyone else guilting me into feeling like I have to buy the love of my loved ones.
"But what about when everyone at school is talking about what they got? I don't want my kid to feel badly!"
Yep. We've heard that. And this is our answer:
I would hope that we've taught our kid to value himself and his family beyond what they can get him; that we've shown him enough love that he doesn't doubt its existence if he doesn't receive the biggest, newest, bestest whatever on Christmas morning. I would hope that in doing this, we've taught him the true meaning and spirit of Christmas, that in keeping Christ at the center of it, he knows what the holiday is really about and that that meaning has nothing to do with something that comes from a store. I would hope that his sense of self worth is such that, should another child make him feel less because he has less stuff, that he doesn't buy into that kind of thinking and that he would be strong enough to reject a message that that accusatory child has obviously bought hook, line, and sinker- that more things equates to more love and more value.
And if he doesn't know those things, then there's no better time to teach them to him than at Christmas.
You know what? Every year that we've done it, no one has felt left out, forgotten, dissatisfied, unloved, or whatever else.
We've all been perfectly happy with what we've gotten!
And it makes shopping for Christmas SO. MUCH. LESS. STRESSFUL.
Hubs and I don't go into debt at the holidays.
We have time to do holiday things like bake, decorate, see loved ones, etc.
We don't feel maxed out by December 26th after battling with other maxed out people at the mall!
I love it.
We love it.
Feeling overwhelmed? I invite you to give our system a whirl! Simplify your holiday, reclaim the real reason for the season, forget making sure that everyone is "getting" what they "need" (because...do they need it? Really?), forget the post-holiday bill anxiety that's lurking around January's corner! Make a conscious decision to say NO to consumerism and commercialism. Say NO to buying your children's love and sense of self worth. Say NO to the pressure and the headaches and the anxiety.
Merry Christmas, from our family to yours!