How we celebrate Christmas became an important discussion my husband when our daughter was born. The Santa question was one we had to discuss, along with other issues that are common in today’s society.
We choose to not get wrapped up in materialism – this means Christmas without Santa, Elf on a Shelf, or truck loads of presents. It means a Christmas where we focus on our family, our faith, and our time away from the rest of the world.
It’s a time to connect and spend time together.
And while our stance has gotten harder over the years as the world tries to creep in and our kids are exposed to more at school and gain more friends, it’s still something we stand by.
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While I originally thought about bashing Santa, this post turned into something more; it’s a inward reflection of our family’s intentions at the Holidays. While sometimes, I do have a plea to kill Santa Claus, I also have a plea to focus on the greater meaning of Christmas and of the holiday season in general.
And honestly, we have never hated on Santa even though in some ways I really hate the concept. We simply teach that reindeer don’t fly and focus on history… but I am getting ahead of myself.
How we Celebrate Christmas as Christians in a modern world.
We Celebrate Christ
Some would argue that Christmas is a Pagan holiday and that Christians shouldn’t even celebrate it. However, my belief is that it does not matter when Christ’s birth is celebrated. The idea is that as a family we have time to worship and honor the birth of our savior. The amazing gift that our Heavenly Father has given us, His Son, is worth remembering even if it does not correlate to an exact date.
We put up a Christmas tree & a Nail
As the tree points heavenward, we are reminded of Christ’s arrival. The star at the top reminds us of the miraculous star that God and His angels gave the shepherds and wise men to follow. We read the story of Christ’s birth and the story of the wise men bringing gifts as we prepare to decorate the tree.
Not only is it noteworthy to celebrate the arrival of Christ, but also to remember His death and resurrection. If it was not for the tree that is the Cross, we would not have eternal life. We spend time discussing the second tree that is important in the life of Christ and hang a hidden nail on the interior of the tree.
Serving Others & History Lessons
As a history teacher, I can relate to teaching my children historical stories. There is value in studying past events and cultures from around the world. As St. Nick is a historical character, we are more than willing to educate our children about his good deeds and his story.
In fact, my husband and I discussed how the real St. Nick might feel about his commercialization and secular agenda in today’s world. I feel like he would not feel so honored to know that his intent and message is warped into something completely different today.
We have our stockings hung at the fireplace and read the story of St. Nick to then discuss the good deeds we can do for others and the true historic accounts of who the Real Nicholas really was. We are blessed with so much, while many struggle. What better time to go out and help others than during the holidays?
We have had to deal with the backlash of not doing Santa. So if this is you, learn how to deal with your child telling other kids Santa isn’t real.
Making Memories & Quality Time
Whether it is making delicious snacks together in the kitchen or just going out as a family and banning all distractions, we spend time together. It’s so easy to take family for granted. And with time off from work and school, there is not better time to capitalize on spending that time wisely. We love movies and getting outside together and there are days for both.
Despite difficulties, we have always found ways to treasure one another. From the winter we spent without a shovel, to Christmas in a new home without food or a working oven. We find the beauty in the madness and value the time with each other. We love to put together puzzles and just spend quality time together.
Odds and Ends Decorations
We only have one small box of Christmas decorations and the tree. We don’t go all-out and we like it that way. It means we’re not buying a ton of stuff that sits in storage for 11 months and it means we don’t get lost in the season. We have a small stake in the ground that says “Jesus is the greatest gift”, a wreath on the door, a Nativity Scene, and just a few other winter items up in the house.
We choose to buy any replacement decorations on clearance so that companies aren’t making more and we choose to be minimalists in our decor. Again, the holiday is about remembering our faith, focusing on our family, and serving others.
A Few Gifts
Christmas is still a special time. It’s magical without flying reindeer and I choose to teach my children to be good year-round. But “goodness” is how a person benefits others and service to our fellow man. I don’t want my children to believe they are being rewarded with gifts for serving others, because that’s not the point at all. The point is that they do it because they are called to live that way.
We choose to limit gifts and buy sustainably. And while we’ve all heard the argument that “Jesus received three gifts”, that is what we have historically tried to do too. It not even that he got three gifts so that’s our model, it’s that we choose to not buy into consumerism and 3 is a small number and a good maximum. Too many times our society tends to worship possessions and that is not the message I want to send my children.
We revamped our gift-giving strategy over the years to create a 4-gift rule alternative that’s been very effective!
How we celebrate Christmas is a time to spend the Holidays without stressing. And though extended family is sometimes stressful for us, we get through everything together. We take trips to visit others and remember crazy Christmases past.
What’s your favorite way to spend Christmas? Do you participate in elvish games or Santa? Please share how your family enjoys Christmas!
Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 4 children living in Boston, MA and believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!