Ideas for non-materialistic traditions on Christmas - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 55 Old 12-09-2007, 09:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi guys! We're really trying to keep xmas simple this year. We'll be at home - just the four of us on xmas day (we'll go visit family the day after) and I'm looking for some traditions that will take the emphasis off of presents. They'll be getting presents, but I really want the day to be more about us spending time as a family and doing something fun. Any ideas? Something spiritual would be lovely- we believe in God but are not conventionally religious - tho we are planning on going to a liberal Church on xmas eve. Thanks.

"We shape the clay into a pot but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want" Lao Tzu
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#2 of 55 Old 12-09-2007, 10:12 PM
 
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We drive and look at lights, which is pretty conventional but still fun.

We also read a story and drink cider or hot chocolate on Christmas Eve.

We don't have many traditions yet since the kids are so little, but after this year, we've agreed that we will be spending EVERY Christmas Eve at our own house and waking to open gifts on Christmas morning instead of being beholden to others' schedules - but that's another thread!

It's us: DH , DS ; DD ; and me . Also there's the . And the 3 . I . Oh, and .
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#3 of 55 Old 12-09-2007, 10:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by BrandiRhoades View Post
We don't have many traditions yet since the kids are so little, but after this year, we've agreed that we will be spending EVERY Christmas Eve at our own house and waking to open gifts on Christmas morning instead of being beholden to others' schedules - but that's another thread!
Us too - After a disaster last year (parents showed up at 6;30 AM and took over my Christmas) we decided never again. These years are too precious. We're very excited to have a mellow time this year. I just feel a little uneasy because over the past years, the kids have been inundated with gifts from visiting family. I really want to make a point to emphasize something besides presents.

"We shape the clay into a pot but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want" Lao Tzu
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#4 of 55 Old 12-09-2007, 10:20 PM
 
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One of my favorites that I did with my Mom, and that she and I now do with my daughter is decorate cookies together
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#5 of 55 Old 12-09-2007, 10:28 PM
 
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This is what I did in preparation for last Christmas. My mom and sister live near each other, and we all (5 sibs and various partners) go to my mom's on Christmas. I went to my mom's on Christmas eve and made a few batches of Blue Berry Orange Sweet Rolls. I left 2 pans at my mom's and sent one home with my sister with instructions of how to cook them. Then I went to my sister's early Christmas morning, and opened stockings with her family and had some sweet rolls and drank port. A wonderful way to start the day. Then we all went to my mom's where they were eating their sweet rolls and drinking port and we had more stocking opening. It was so nice, and I loved having a special breakfast thing.

This year, my sister will have a 2.5 week old babe on Christmas morning (and the other one may be giving birth!) but I'll probably still stop by since my 3 yo niece will want to celebrate.
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#6 of 55 Old 12-09-2007, 10:30 PM
 
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cooking and baking!

Blissful Mama to DD-(5), DS-(6) and someone new due in November!
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#7 of 55 Old 12-09-2007, 10:42 PM
 
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We drive around and look at lights on houses a few days before Christmas. And if you ask my sister, we have a family tradition of eating chinese food on Christmas eve, but none of the rest of us can figure out why.

Mom to K (06.23.06) & A (09.13.09)
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#8 of 55 Old 12-09-2007, 10:46 PM
 
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Bundling up on Christmas morning, going for a walk in the woods, and blowing our wishes into the "magical" christmas north wind.
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#9 of 55 Old 12-09-2007, 10:51 PM
 
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Our local zoo has Zoo Lights, which is a really neat show. It opens at night and everyone walks around and looks at the lights (there are so many over the 1.25 mile walk). They sell hot chocolate and popcorn.

My dh is Hindu and they have a holiday called Pancha Ganapati that is sortof to replace Christmas. We are doing Christmas/Yule and Pancha Ganapati. For PG they have 5 days of celebration and each day focuses on something different. One day you give goodies to the neighbors and co-workers and teachers in your life. One day everyone shares a gift with the family, be it a song, a painting, or a performance on an instrament, or a goody made just for the family. One day the family sits down and they ask for forgiveness for wrongs committed against each other, then they are written down and burned, with apologies and hugs all around.

7yo: "Mom,I know which man is on a quarter and which on is on a nickel. They both have ponytails, but one man has a collar and the other man is naked. The naked man was our first president."
 
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#10 of 55 Old 12-09-2007, 11:15 PM
 
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Most of our Christmas day traditions are entwined with the gift opening at my mom's place, so it's hard to separate them from the gifts, yk?

One thing we have done every Christmas for the last several years is to go for a walk around the neighbourhood to look at everybody's lights. I think the walk will be a little truncated this year (I'll be just over 6 weeks post-op, and I don't think I'll be up to a huge walk on a busy day), but we'll still do it. Obviously, that doesn't work in some areas, but I like walking and looking at lights even better than driving and looking at them. (We sometimes do that, too - but before Christmas, not on Christmas.)

We also have a family tradition of forgetting to eat breakfast on Christmas day, and filling up on mincemeat tarts and other goodies with our morning coffee. That's one I've been trying to make myself stop doing...but I haven't been successful to date...that morning is just too out-of-the-ordinary.

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#11 of 55 Old 12-09-2007, 11:19 PM
 
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we bake bread on every holiday- christmas is monkey bread! fun and kid friendly.

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#12 of 55 Old 12-09-2007, 11:43 PM
 
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Many communities/area churches (if this doesn't conflict with your beliefs) have free/low-cost holiday concerts/programs.

Putting on whatever music says Christmas/winter holidays to you while putting up some decorations in your home, baking cookies, etc.

Adopting a family for Christmas/charitable donations - take your kids grocery shopping for the items to donate to a food bank. "Angel tree" at the mall, etc., where you choose a card/ornament on the tree and buy a child what is needed.

Maybe doing something for the animals - pinecones covered with peanut butter & rolled in seeds, hung from a tree outside. Things like that.

For older kids, working at a soup kitchen, etc.

ETA: if you do Santa, you could read Clement Moore's poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" on Christmas Eve, just before bed.

http://www.bartleby.com/248/27.html

A friend's family did this when she was a child. And even now that she lives away and doesn't always get home for Christmas, her parents gave her a copy of the book, and there's a LD phone call on Christmas Eve, while her dad reads it.

For older children, you could add Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol, read over a few days - maybe between Christmas and New Year's?

A Christmas Carol text: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/46/46-8.txt

AUDIO version: http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/9696

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#13 of 55 Old 12-09-2007, 11:47 PM
 
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We actually do this on the solstice but it would be fun to do on Christmas day as well.

We go into the woods and decorate a tree full of pine-cones smeared with peanut-butter and rolled in birdseed, and other tree-food goodies for the hungry winter animals. It's a little way to give back to the earth. It's so nice to get out to feel the cold and feel alive.
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#14 of 55 Old 12-09-2007, 11:49 PM
 
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I'm a teacher and one tradition we have in my classroom that I plan on doing with my family is to read "Night Tree" by Eve Bunting and then decorate a tree outside for the animals. At school, we make quick and simple things like bread cut with holiday cookie cutters, smeared with peanut butter, and sprinkled with birdseed to hang like ornaments. We also make garland on cotton thread with cheerios and raisins or cranberries.

Also, for the past several years dh and I have talked about making a mountain hike a Christmas tradition, but each year we've talked about it one of us has either been sick or exhausted from being pregnant!
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#15 of 55 Old 12-09-2007, 11:51 PM
 
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We actually do this on the solstice but it would be fun to do on Christmas day as well.

We go into the woods and decorate a tree full of pine-cones smeared with peanut-butter and rolled in birdseed, and other tree-food goodies for the hungry winter animals. It's a little way to give back to the earth. It's so nice to get out to feel the cold and feel alive.
Whoa... it's like some cyber brain link or something. We were typing the same idea at the same time!
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#16 of 55 Old 12-10-2007, 12:04 AM
 
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I found this on Boho Girl's Blog, Laterne Laufen

Not quite Christmassy, but would fit in with taking a walk looking at the decorations in the neighborhood. The thought of carrying a lantern around seems very warm and cozy...

I think reading each other a book before bed is always fun. Other suggestions would be to volunteer on that day (or before Christmas have your kids help you prepare gifts for other kids), have Christmas dinner in your jammies, have the music playing, decorate and indulge in all those yummy treats, watch the classic Christmas movies if you're not tv free, go tobagoning (anything outdoors really)... Love the decorating the trees for the animals ideas.

Be together and forget about the dishes, the pine needles on the floor, and remember this is the only Christmas they will have when they are *4* or whatever age they are
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#17 of 55 Old 12-10-2007, 12:21 AM
 
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We have a variety of traditions that I love. My favorite, though, is spending the afternoon at family friends' house and having dinner, making a big puzzle, playing board games, and singing carols. There are no gifts, or just trinkets discreetly opened, and the entire day is spent warm and talking and laughing. Every year, the group gets bigger, but there is never any drama. We also do make-your-own sushi for the lunch. Much fun!
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#18 of 55 Old 12-10-2007, 12:44 AM
 
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Originally Posted by TranscendentalMom View Post
Us too - After a disaster last year (parents showed up at 6;30 AM and took over my Christmas) we decided never again. These years are too precious. We're very excited to have a mellow time this year. I just feel a little uneasy because over the past years, the kids have been inundated with gifts from visiting family. I really want to make a point to emphasize something besides presents.
I remember that thread.

We will have fondue but I love the tree decorating ideas..is there a site where I can find how to make those wild decorations for outside trees. I know how to do the pinecone peanut butter one but the garland sounds fabulous.

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#19 of 55 Old 12-10-2007, 12:45 AM
 
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I love the idea of doing a puzzle together!

7yo: "Mom,I know which man is on a quarter and which on is on a nickel. They both have ponytails, but one man has a collar and the other man is naked. The naked man was our first president."
 
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#20 of 55 Old 12-10-2007, 12:54 AM
 
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We keep our pajamas on all day. Have a "picnic" on the floor that pretty much lasts all day. We drink cocoa and egg nog while we play games together. Last year we baked cinnamon buns in the morning. In the evening we camp-out on the living room floor in our sleeping bags and watch movies.

+ (13 years together)= (9), (9), (2) and
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#21 of 55 Old 12-10-2007, 01:08 AM
 
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This maybe more of a Thanksgiving/New Year type of thing, but I remember we did this for a few years w/ my stepdad's family. Plus it will depend on how old your kids are. I want to adapt it somehow when my kids are a bit older...

Dim the lights & everyone gets a candle. Stand in a circle & light one candle. Then that person talks about the blessings in their life, things they are thankful for or their favorite memories of the last year, whatever theme you chose. Then that person lights the next persons candle & they get to say their piece etc...

Cheryl, wife to an amazing man, homeschooling SAHM to Gavin 12/03, Rhys 09/06, and Ian Aug 11, 2010.

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#22 of 55 Old 12-10-2007, 01:12 AM
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In no particular order:

Each of us makes a gift for another. This was simple gifts when they werw younger...they made pillowcases or key holders. Now we make photo calendars, afgans, labels for dad's homemade beer, etc.

Everyone cooks one thing for christmas days meal. No big meal because we play board games, hang out, cook, eat, etc.

Long walks are great!

Before the holiday we sometimes make gingerbread houses. Give them as gifts.

We have the traditional meal a few days later. The youngest kid was in charge of stirring the gravy, the next kid made the cranberry sauce, etc. Everyone contributed.

We always pick a family to help, either with gifts or cash. We discuss it among ourselves and never tell. THe kids help pick gifts.

In the days before we string Cheerios and decorate a tree for the animals.

We walk our land and pick what we all know is a Charlie Brown tree, but we love it. (saves money) YOu can take a ride out into the country, and either go down some dirt state road or simply ask a few home owners for permission and cut down your own tree. Honestly, the sapling you're going to take isn't going to matter to anyone. (Please remember! If you can almost touch the ceiling in your home, your tree shouldn't be any talled than that. A 30' tree won't magically shrink. Think good ole Charlie Brown, cause there'll be gaps and spaces, but it will be wayyyy more fun, and then have cookie dough ready to bake (try a freezer cookie recipe. YOu can make them months in advance, and freeze the rolls of dough. Just like slice and bake cookies) and hot cocoa when you get home.

Dh loves to watch the parades on tv.


Cookies, puzzles, board games, crafts, cooking, all cause us to gather togehter and do something together. We've made trees out of Readers Digests and spray painted them ala 1950's, and we've put tea lights in paper bags and lined the driveway. (total cost, $2)

We all say one thing we're thankful for before dinner.

We call my siblings and other relatives and everyone wishes everyone else a happy day.

The kids always get a string of lights each for their rooms, or more if they want. They love to decorate too.

We buy a family gift, something for the house. This year it might be our first mircowave. One year it was a museam membership, another it was a Nintendo, another a DVD player.

We often ask, "What are YOU giving" so-and-so?





We sometimes deliver a hot meal and some holiday cheer to elderly people in town. We bring the kids, so they can see what we're doing, and because most people love to see kids that day.


Looking back over the thread, the same things are said over and over. So many of us share the same traditions, often that we've gone out and dragged home ourselves. (my parents were't big on tradition)



Have a great one.
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#23 of 55 Old 12-10-2007, 01:16 AM
 
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You know what makes me sad about this thread? By the standards on here, my Christmases are totally materialistic...and yet, my approach is less materialistic than almost anyone I know. How did we, as a culture, get so far away from the things that really count?

This year is really screwy for us, but I'm going to think long and hard about some of the ideas in this thread...

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#24 of 55 Old 12-10-2007, 01:22 AM
 
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You know what makes me sad about this thread? By the standards on here, my Christmases are totally materialistic...and yet, my approach is less materialistic than almost anyone I know. How did we, as a culture, get so far away from the things that really count?

This year is really screwy for us, but I'm going to think long and hard about some of the ideas in this thread...
I think some materialism is ok, just look to incorporate some of the other ideas as well. Be gentle on yourself mama! This isn't the time for you to be getting too worked up about that. You've got other, more important things to mull over this holiday season.

Cheryl, wife to an amazing man, homeschooling SAHM to Gavin 12/03, Rhys 09/06, and Ian Aug 11, 2010.

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#25 of 55 Old 12-10-2007, 03:43 AM
 
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My in-laws house is always waytoomuchstuff & very present focused, this year the kids are getting an ATV four wheeler thing that I'm super nervous about (plus all the proper equipment thank goodness) & i'm sure much of the day will be spent doing that. How do I watch!? We will be going to a Candelight service in the evening together though.

But at my parents house, where the kids get 1 or 2 things each (typically choosen by me, as my mom doesn't have a ton of shopping time and ends up doing it close to Christmas. This year it is DVD movies we have been wanting), we play games together. Whether it is video games (Mario DDR one year, and likely Wii this year) & doing tournaments with them, board games, or card games it's always a lot of fun. Sometimes my brother & sister, who are in band & orchestra at school, will play for us a little.

Our house Christmas Morning, I have always wanted (but never have) to incorperate daddy reading a Christmas book (we have a basketful) to everyone before they dive into the gifts (which I wrapped tonight, woohoo I love feeling done "ahead" of my usual schedule).
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#26 of 55 Old 12-10-2007, 04:27 AM
 
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For Solstice we always make treats for the birds, that would work for Christmas, too. We melt lard and mix it with birdseed, dried fruit, and pour it into muffin tins with a bit of yarn. Cranberry strings, half a citrus fruit impaled on a bamboo stake, pinecones smeared with peanutbutter and rolled in seeds and fruits... and decorate the trees out in the yard.
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#27 of 55 Old 12-10-2007, 09:24 AM
 
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We always did a "Christmas Craft" on Christmas afternoon--something to put on the tree and save for next year.

This year, my DD and mom and I made a gingerbread house, and we'll do that every year from now on.
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#28 of 55 Old 12-10-2007, 11:04 AM
 
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I have, over the course of three years, been slowly shifting the emphasis from "what do I get" to other traditions. We still buy gifts but not that many and make many of the gifts ourselves.

We spend time decorating our home with handmade things, make lots of crafts, bake goodies for presents for friends, listen to Christmas music, watch Christmas movies, invite friends over for dessert or dinner, go to the Christmas markets to see the trees and listen to concerts...
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#29 of 55 Old 12-10-2007, 11:29 AM
 
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To bring home the fact that Christmas is about giving and not receiving, that a lot of people cannot afford new things every Christmas much less all year, that "those who can, should", and that it is not up to some "myth" (Santa) to provide for people in our community but actually, you know, PEOPLE who live in the community... we do a big charity donation project.

We give each child a standard-sized cardboard box. We help them go through their toys and clothes if needed, and the goal is for each of them to fill the box. Dh and I do the same, mostly with clothes and any unused household items Then we ALL take the 5 boxes to Goodwill. We talk a lot about what we're doing, where it's going, and so on. I also involve them in preparing Holiday Helper boxes.

The kids are actually very into it. Not only does it help bring home our values, but it also helps reduce clutter and make room for new things that they'll be getting for Christmas. We've been doing this every year since the twins were 2 1/2. This is their fourth year doing it, and the first year for our 2 year old to be doing it. It was a big success this year!
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#30 of 55 Old 12-10-2007, 11:58 AM
 
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We spend the time together as a family. I set out some snacky treats and we stay in our PJs all day. Around supper time, I get out the toppings and everyone makes thier own pizza. In the evening we watch movies while munching on homemade pizza. Usually it will be just the family, DH and I, the teens and the babies. This year a friend of my stepdad's has fallen on hard times so he will be joining us.
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