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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Holiday Traditions

It's funny how much having a child has affected the way I look at the world. Some things are much more fascinating than I ever thought they'd be, like watching Izzy learn to do a puzzle for the first time. Others are frightening, like the idea of one day being a mom to teenagers!

One thing that I've really seen differently since becoming a Mom is the Christmas holiday. All parents have to decide what traditions they want to bring into their growing family. Many of us spend a lot of time deliberating over how to deal with the "Santa" issue in our homes.

What traditions are important to you and your family? What traditions would you do away with, if you could?

Some people choose to not even celebrate Christmas, because of its pagan roots. I really gave this some serious thought at one point in my life, but then I heard my Pop say something that put it all into perspective for me:

"This holiday has served the Devil long enough, let's take it over for God now."

I don't have a problem with taking a holiday over for Christian purposes. The one thing I'm really struggling with, and I know I'm not the first to say this, is the materialism and commercialism that now surround Christmas.

I've tried to stay off of my soap box and not sound like a Scrooge, but it's getting more and more disturbing. It seemed to me this year that Thanksgiving was treated like "just the day before Black Friday." I'm afraid that the most important tradition to my kids each Christmas will be getting more stuff.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy giving and getting presents, but I don't want it to be the one thing my kids look forward to on Christmas day. This year, with Izzy, I've already started letting her open her presents, one every couple of days. I'm toying with the idea of letting her open them all by Christmas eve, and then Christmas morning we'll just do the stocking. That way, Christmas day won't be this big "stuff party" that ends in overhwelmed exhaustion, and she'll have time to enjoy each gift individually. Instead, we can save the 25th for some traditions that revolve around family time and emphasizing Christ's birth.

As of right now, Santa's not in the picture because Izzy's to small to understand the concept. I don't have any problem playing the Santa game as our kids get older, though. There's only one thing I don't ever want to do, though, and that's lie to my kids about anything, including Santa.

So, it comes down to this for me:

1) What do I want to emphasize on Christmas?
- time with family and friends
- the sense of awe, wonder, and gratitude we should feel over God coming down to earth as not just a human, but a helpless baby born in a barn and sleeping on hay in a feeding trough
- good food (I have to be honest here)

2) What do I not want to emphasize on Christmas (or ever)?
- doing so much that I'm too stressed to enjoy it
- giving and getting stuff, stuff and more stuff
- lying to my kids about a guy in big red suit

What makes Christmas special at your house? How do you handle the "stuff" issue?

I feel like I sound like Charlie Brown. I really watched and payed attention to "A Charlie Brown Christmas" for the first time this year, and I never noticed how wise that little bald kid was.

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