Christmas ponderings

Christmas. Santa. Ornaments. Presents. My head spins every year and then I get caught up in the chaos and spit out the other side wondering how it all went by so fast.

There are several great articles I have read on Christmas. One I read last year about redeeming Santa Claus. This year, I read an article about how Christmas has been hijacked. If you have the time, please read both, they say it better than I ever could.

We are making changes to how we focus on Christmas.

No traditional Santa – he won’t be giving gifts in our house. He’s too much about consumerism and ‘me, me, me!’ And really, if a toddler has to pick between Santa and baby Jesus, let’s be honest, he’ll pick Santa. We’ll talk about Saint Nicholas, the real person who once lived and sought to show Jesus’ love to those around him. If Jude wants to sit on Santa’s lap, no biggie. But he will know that ‘Santa’ is just a man dressing up as a fictional character.

We have already been doing our little advent activity. We are reading one verse a day in the story leading to Jesus’ birth. Each verse is on simple Christmas card stock so once we finished reading, we chain it together with velcro. Simple and reusable. But it keeps us focused daily. I hope this tradition sticks.

We are simplifying gift giving. I love this little pneumonic for gifts during the holidays: Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read, and additionally (something to give).  We are also going to do small gifts in stockings – gum, candy, markers, etc. We haven’t bought much for Jude the past two Christmas seasons because, well, he doesn’t really get it. But he certainly understands presents now. And we are going to focus in and keep it small. The season will first be about Jesus and second, spending time with family. Gifts will just be a little extra benefit.

And my on-going struggle. Buying items that do not support slave labor (top 13 items most likely made by slave labor). For awhile, I will keep this at the front of my mind and will resist buying that cute whatever that’s on sale. And then I cave. I want to look cute. I want to be trendy. And then I buy that thing that’s on sale without questioning whether I am wearing (or eating) someone else’s mistreatment. Is looking cute ever worth abusing someone’s basic human rights? What is my faith if I am not caring for others in every way possible? That’s worth refocusing how to spend our money. Oh forgive me because I fail in this over and over again.

In case you are wondering about a few good websites for items that are made without slave labor (in addition to the ones listed in this post), these are some of my favorites:

And lastly, focusing on simplifying. The holidays are busy, that’s no new news to any of us. So this season, regardless of how busy we get, I am trying to make things simple. Nothing needs to be overly complex this season. That includes cooking, gifting, schedules . . . simplifying it all!

What have you been pondering as this holiday season approaches?

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6 Comments Christmas ponderings

  1. Krista Box December 8, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    I love this post Beth! As you know, we are wrestling with all of the same things. I’d love to brainstorm together! Here are my random comments…

    Thanks for including Noonday… love it!
    I want Punjammies so, so much.
    And I need accountability as well on what I am purchasing. Too easy to cave and not research where things are coming from.
    I just downloaded the Free2Work app on my phone and I am pretty excited about it!

    Thanks for this post! I love reading your blog!

  2. amber December 8, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    Love this post! And, the pneumonic for gifts at Christmas is such a nice reminder. Thanks for this. And Merry Christmas!

  3. Michelle H December 9, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Christmas holds such a special place in my heart. My Christmas’s as a child were filled with such joy and wonderment and special times with my family, and I hope they are the same for my son.

    I like the idea of keeping Christmas simple, gift-wise. My son just had his first birthday, and we don’t need any more toys in this house! He will mostly be getting clothing and some other necessities (more cloth diapers!).

    For our extended family, we only give gifts to my parents and my in-laws (usually something inexpensive but meaningful – family photos, a calendar with our pictures, handmade gifts). We also do a $20 capped gift exchange where we draw names with my siblings and their significant others so we are each only giving and receiving one gift. $20 isn’t too much of a hit to the wallet, it’s enough that the gift feels significant (not just a gag gift and a waste of money) and can stretch a long way if you DIY! We’ve had some pretty hilarious gifts over the years.

    I’m not in the same boat as you regarding Santa, but that’s just our different belief systems at work. To each their own, there is room for all of us!

    Merry Christmas to you and your family 🙂

  4. Justine December 19, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Thank you for this enlightening post. Another reason to support handmade.

  5. Joana January 1, 2012 at 10:24 am

    I enjoyed reading about your Christmas plans and choices you are making with your little one. My “little ones” are young adults now, and I’m seeing the fruit of what we did when they were small children. We always talked about Santa as a “fun” part of Christmas, without placing much emphasis on whether he was real or not. They knew the story of the real St. Nicholas and how the idea of Santa came from that–it’s surprising how soon they can grasp that distinction and how little it bothers them (also helps with their Santa-believing friends). But one of the most important things we did involved the tree and gifts. One of the first things I sewed was a Nativity scene from a panel, and that has always been the only thing under our tree until Christmas Eve. The children played with it, chewed on it, carted it all over the house, replaced pieces with dolls and action figures, played the Christmas story. But it kept the emphasis on Christ, not presents.

    Thanks for sharing the link about child and forced labor–some things I knew, some I didn’t. It’s a problem with most quilting fabric, one reason I like to use fabric from Connecting Threads. We also live with the aftermath of the textile industry leaving the US and the jobs lost forever here in the south.

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