(My so-excited-favorite part of this post is at the end... )
I've shared this before, but a couple years ago a sweet friend posted about an outing with her daughters where they saw a bell ringer collecting money. The person asked the girls if they were excited about Santa coming and the oldest remarked that the didn't do Santa, they did baby Jesus. I'm sure my friend had no idea what impact sharing that story would have - but it created a tremendous shift for me.
Before Oliver was born, I started thinking about how I wanted Christmas to look like for him. I grew up with Santa and loved it. Santa still comes to my parents house and leaves treats and I still make requests for him since he continues to stop by... :) I don't want to take away the fun of Christmas. What I do want to do however, is to create a Christmas that teaches him the meaning of the season. I want him to know it is a day we celebrate because it's the day Jesus was born. So... I know lots of people want this and I would love to hear how you do this in your family. Please share!!
This is our current plan... the first year Chandler and I dated we made a birthday cake for Jesus - (it was chocolate because we're sure Jesus would like chocolate!) - and I'd like to keep this tradition. When Oliver is older, I can totally see us having a birthday party for Jesus where we invite his friends over for cake and ice cream. I would also want to involve a project like maybe each child would bring a gift or warm coat and we could take them to a shelter, school or other place of need. At the party I could see us making Christmas cards and then going to a nursing home or other facility to sing carols and deliver the cards. I'm sure I'll find more ideas and change plans a hundred times between now and when it's time to plan, but I'm stoked about the possibilities!
I guess technically, the above isn't 'current' since Rover can't walk yet so some other plans include...
-three gifts to symbolize the gifts from the wise men to Jesus
-a stocking from 'Santa' because our parents are having a hard time with not doing Santa and there are only so many things I will fight
-choosing a service project to do as a family
-choosing three alternative gifts again to symbolize the gifts from the wise men
Up until very recently I took my non-Santa to the extreme and didn't want any Santa books, no Santa clothes... I realized I'd become anti-Santa and didn't want to be. Plus, it's really hard to be against a happy, jolly man that everyone loves. I consulted my sweet friend and she shared how they handled Santa and well, it made my world jolly again. It makes sense to include Santa in Christmas for many reasons, mainly because it just can't be avoided. I think Santa is cute too! I don't want to be against him. I do want to limit his importance though. I am looking for a good book about Saint Nicholas, if you know any, I'd love it if you shared it with me. More than anything, I want to instill a spirit of giving and the ultimate reason for Christmas - Jesus.
This year will definitely be, as Chan says, a learning year. I know there will be things we'll have to address later, like Santa being real and things of that nature. We want 'Santa' to be a fun thing for him as long as he will let it, but I imagine that when he is old enough to ask if he is real, it will be our cue to share with him that he is not and then address how we don't talk about it so he's not the kid in class that spoils it for everyone else. Another friend is exploring similar things for her daughter (who is a bit older than Oliver) and she is thinking about going with the idea that 'Santa' is what you sign when you don't want someone to know the gift is from you. I like the anonymity, but I'm not sure how we'd still fill his stocking (note to self: order stocking this week!) using that - I did want to share it though because a few people have asked about how we will 'do' Christmas and I thought that was a terrific idea.
Three gifts for Oliver.
Birthday cake for Jesus.
Lots of Christmas books celebrating Jesus' birth.
My FAVORITE part... there is a strong possibility our project could become a tradition. I am SO, SO excited to share this!!!
Since Oliver is small and we can't really do a lot with him in terms of a project we've put our heads together and this year we've decided that we'll do a random act of kindness every day. I am giddy thinking about it!!! I can't wait for Thursday!! We made a list of forty or so ideas and while we will pull from them, it's my hope that we will see opportunities each day and can just do something! I would love to post each day, but considering my track record lately I plan to try to post weekly. I plan to share a more about this tomorrow.
Don't forget though... if you have traditions or ideas about sharing Jesus, book suggestions - please share! I'll be sharing some of my favorite books this month too.
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