Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What do we do with Christmas?

Can you believe Christmas is in just over a month?  I'm not one to skip over the importance of Thanksgiving, but Christmas has been heavy on my mind lately. 

I don't think it was a coincidence that we did our month of re-focusing and our Not A Fan study the month before the holiday rush begins.  We just finished spending a month re-focusing on God, learning what it looks like to a true follower of Him, and now we're going to turn around and turn Christmas into a day about getting gifts and eating good food?  It just doesn't sit right with me.

But what do we do with Christmas?

The truth is Brad and I both love to give presents.  And we don't really like asking for lists because that shows very little thought.  There's no element of surprise.  No sense of true gift giving when the person had to tell you what to get.  A gift should be given out of the goodness of your heart, because you want to give someone something.  Not because you feel obligated because they're giving you something.  Or because they're a family member.  And Brad and I love the true sense of gift-giving.  We love searching for the perfect gift, something that says we know the receiver.  Something that shows we've put a lot of thought into it.

Admittedly, we often fall into the trap at Christmas of giving gifts out of obligation.  It's not right not to buy a gift for my niece.  And we try to come up with something we think she will love, but it's not always a very thoughtful gift (I mean, really, how thoughtful is a Barbie or Littlest Pet Shop toy?).  But that's now what Christmas is about.  And that's not what we want to teach our boys.  So, we've already been struggling with this thought for some time. 

Plus, gift giving just adds to everyone's stuff.  And we're trying to live with less because we know you can't find joy in things.  I think I mentioned before that we got our inspiration for our challenge from a blog I stumbled across.  She has a challenge each month on top of her daily tasks.  Her challenge for November and December is to have a buy-nothing Christmas.  She is cutting down drastically on her gift giving and to those that she is still giving gifts they will be homemade or upcycled gifts.  Honestly, I think this is an awesome idea!  For several years, Brad and I use to give a "date" to my nieces for their birthday.  We picked something fun to do and they got to spend the day just with us.  There was no gift except for the activity that we did.  And they loved it!  Brad and I looked forward to it just as much as they did.  I love that idea!  Brad and I were also talking about our favorite presents from each other and in our top three we both mentioned at least two "acts of kindness" rather than a physical item.  People appreciate our time and thoughtfulness so much more than the things that we buy them. 

But having a buy-nothing Christmas is very hard.  It's hard to get others on board or to understand.  It's hard to stick to.  Brad and I both have some sense of wanting to do this, but we just don't know that we can.  We would love for December to be so much less stressful because instead of worrying about what to buy this person we're just enjoying time with our friends and family.  But it's hard, and I just don't know if we can pull it off.  It has definitely given us something to think about, and I know we will be having several more conversations about it.  I'm sure you can count on more blog posts about it, too, as we process what this Christmas is going to look like for our family as we try to teach our boys that Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ and not receiving gifts.

So, what about you?  What do you do with Christmas?  Do you wish you could make some changes?  Share your thoughts and ideas and maybe together we can figure this out!

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