I've been thinking a lot about Christmas recently, I'm sure everyone has as it's that time of year! Stephen and I chose not to participate in Christmas again this year, we didn't do it either last year. I guess in one sense we aren't participating but it's more in the commercialized aspect of Christmas that we aren't participating. We're still going to church and will be with our church family on Christmas day but that's the extent to which we are celebrating. Having not done the commercialized aspect of Christmas the last two years I think we have come to find the true meaning behind the holiday season and really started to shape how we want to participate in the future. I've seen a lot of people debating the whole "Santa" issue but to each their own. I don't care if you do or don't but I do care that you don't make it all about presents. That's not the reason for the season (we all know Jesus is) Our world is so material greedy that most stress out at a time of year that should be filled with love, laughter and lots of good food. So many people we know are stressing out over the perfect gift and how many gifts to buy, what to by, when to exchange...it's all about gifts gifts gifts.....well I can say that will NOT be a part of our Christmas tradition. We have come up with the 5 gift rule. 1. Something they want 2. Something the need 3. Something to wear 4. Something to read and 5. Something to donate. Of course I will always do stocking, stockings were and still are my favourite tradition around Christmas. Our children will have everything they need and there is no reason why once a year they should be beyond spoiled when they already have so much and others are suffering with very little.
We will still set up a tree and decorate it because I love that tradition as well. Every year I will get a new ornament for all of our children that way when they grow up and move out and have their own little tree, they will have some decorations. We will cook a family meal (my personal fav is the about 10:30 delicious brunch followed bu the 5:00 dinner) but it won;t be stressful, it'll be about enjoying time with our loved ones and being appreciative of what we have. Stephen and I have paid the ultimate price to learn the lesson of being appreciative. We have learned the lessen that material objects simply do not matter but what is even more important and priceless is time spent with family and friends. It's about love. God is love, Christmas is about his son, given Jesus wasn't born on Christmas but that's when we celebrate him.
Everyone talks about it being Jesus' birthday so why not have a birthday party for Jesus. Sure, our kids probably will be made fun of a lot, after all they are children of Stephen and I, but I think it would be another fun tradition to start and instead of getting birthday presents for Jesus, our kids can buy a gift for someone in need. We'll incorporate birthday streamers and party hats as well as a cake into our Christmas tree/Nativity Scene and singing of traditional Christmas songs...the Nelles household will be a crazy mismesh of holiday traditions but you can bet it will be full of love, life, laughter and LOTS of good food! (Just not the orange chicken crock pot recipe disaster from a few days ago)
We are still undecided on the whole Santa debate. In one sense I love the magicalness of Santa and teaching children to believe even when they don't see (like God and Jesus, that's a good Faith lesson....I think I just thought of how to handle Santa if we choose too) anyways, the downside is that Santa seems to be the only thing people think about during the Christmas time. I think it would be valuable to teach our children about the real St. Nick and encourage them to be extra giving through the holiday season (as our kids will grow up in a household of always doing things for others and giving to those in need) but just doing the whole "Santa" thing and leaving it at that, it doesn't fit with our family. It's like the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny. I like the idea of showing our kids to believe in something even if they don't see it, I think that is a great lesson in life but there are also other ways to do it that aren't so commercialized. I guess we can debate the Santa issue when and if we ever get the chance to so for now he is....in the North Pole.
Having had a stress free Christmas the last two years (in the one and only sense it was stress free because we weren't worried about gifts or money or food or stretching ourselves between all of our families) we have really gained a valuable insight to this time of year. We won't ever participate in the commercialized aspect of Christmas like we use to. Our kids will not get tons of toys, there will be no need. Instead we will teach them about helping others, we will create our own family traditions for this time of year, we will cook lots of good food, spend time with family and friends, we will sing carols and when our kids wake up on Christmas morning we will be going to church. They won't even care about presents. Maybe we'll do their 5 gifts Christmas Eve and they'll be excited to wake up to family traditions and time with family instead of material objects that mean nothing. I can't tell you what I got as a present year after year when I was young but I can tell you I remember the traditions, going to my grandparents house and playing with my cousins, the talks, the food, the treat jars from my grandma...it was about time and memories not material objects and I want my kids to have that too. I want to instill that value into them. No matter where we are in life there are always people who are in more need then us. Our kids will have what they need, clothes on their back, food on the table, warms beds to sleep in at night, they may not have the newest cellphone (they won't even get a cellphone until there much much older) they won't have laptops when their 5, they won't have the latest toys, they will have love, true love from a very loving family, they will have traditions that are out of the ordinary but done out of love for each other. They will have plenty of good food and good times spent with loved ones. They will have memories to cherish.
I am thankful to have had the opportunity to really sit back and look at this time of year in a whole new picture. I know it came at a horrible cost but I am thankful to have come to the understanding of what this time of year really means. What this time of year will mean to my family in the future. It has helped shape yet another aspect of our lives, one for the better. I am thankful for that. Kids can't unwrap love and time but they can feel it deep within their hearts if people just show them.
Merry Christmas Everyone, please say a special prayer for us that next year at Christmas we will be celebrating the birth (or close to it) of our own child (adoption or our own) and that all our wishes, hopes and dreams will come true in 2012.