Simple and joyful holidays - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 40 Old 11-16-2007, 01:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am trying to figure out what to get my kids for the holidays. I veer between wanting to get just one special thing for each, and feeling like my anger at our crazy consumer society is depriving my kids of the innocent pleasure of getting gifts. I feel like I'm dumping my ascetic/anti consumer issues on them. I want to replace "getting" with something more positive than just "not getting".
How do you guys foster a sense of abundance while trying to live simply? Especially when kids do see the excesses available to so many kids (this is true for my 6 year old especially). What are you doing for holiday gifts? I would love concrete suggestions and inspiration--I need to get out of the self-denial mindset and into something more positive.
Thanks.
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#2 of 40 Old 11-16-2007, 02:34 PM
 
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My son is just two years old so I am not faced with the consumer challenges, yet.

We buy no gifts in my family, period, BUT my husband is all excited about getting our son gifts for Christmas. Over and over I have reenforced my desire to keep it simple but I know it will be an on-going battle for years to come. At this point we have agreed to get two or three special toys that we jointly pick out and shop for together.

Going forward, I hope to keep his gifts to a minimum while stressing that our family values experiences over "stuff", which is why we do X, Y, Z family activities all year long. (This is how my family was when I was growing up - lots of activities and very few gifts.)

I have no doubt it will be a struggle when he is older and sees so many kids getting so much.

I look forward to hear about other posters' experiences.

Mom to DS, born fall 05 after ,,, wife/best friend to DH We have
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#3 of 40 Old 11-16-2007, 02:34 PM
 
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subbing...want to know the same thing!
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#4 of 40 Old 11-16-2007, 02:43 PM
 
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My first thought was something like a zoo pass rather than a physical toy.
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#5 of 40 Old 11-16-2007, 03:20 PM
 
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My suggestion is to create memories around Christmas. Make decorations, have a pageant. Make it about togetherness and warmth and food and family games and not about toys. Also, focus on the giving aspect rather than the getting. I have no kids, but that's what we always did in our family. And we're not even Christian.

Mom to a little boy (June 2009)
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#6 of 40 Old 11-16-2007, 04:52 PM
 
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I don't have kids, but I buy for my 2.5 yo goddaughter and her new sister. Books. I almost always buy books! Their parents are big on books, too. Something else to think about might be "experience" gifts (depends on the age of your kids) - art/music lessons, park/museum memberships; art & craft supplies, music CDs (I got my goddaughter a great one by Sandra Boyton called "Philadelphia Chickens," book with CD set, big band/show tune set. I listened to the CD myself - very funny!), in addition to books.

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#7 of 40 Old 11-16-2007, 05:01 PM
 
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We're Christians and we want to keep Christmas about celebrating the birth of Christ so most of what we do revolves around tradition. Some of it is kinda cheesy...

On Christmas morning we will make birthday pancakes and sing Happy Birthday (cheesy part) and will read the Christmas Story.

My kids aren't old enough (17 months and almost 3) to get consumed with consumerism, but DH and I have already agreed that they each get three gifts symbolizing the 3 Wise Men. We also think that if Jesus Himself only got 3 gifts why do our kids need more than that?

We will be going to the nursing home on Christmas day to take regular cookies, sugar free cookies, and little painted salt dough ornaments that the kids will paint.

I made a star garland with all of the people in our lives that we love and are thankful for, and we will countdown to Christmas by cutting a star off and talking about why we are thankful for that person and praying for them.

On Christmas Eve we will have all of our friends over and decorate Christmas cookies. Everyone will come in their jammies and leave with cookies for Santa. We are going to set boots outside for Saint Nicholas and talk about the real St. Nick and being generous giver. The boots will have a little something fun in them.

I really hope to always keep Christmas in perspective. If my kids lose sight of what it is about then we will definitely look at changing things up.

We are a family of Jesus loving urban-nesters living the granola life in a not-so-crunchy city.  Our kids (DS 8, DS 7, DD 4) are home birthed and educated, and we just found out that a new Little will be added to our roost mid-April '14!

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#8 of 40 Old 11-16-2007, 05:14 PM
 
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My husband and decided years ago to only get each other an ornament that symbolizes something of significance from the past year. We will continue this tradition with our son.

We have decided that Santa will bring 1 gift.

We plan to stress the importance of family, togetherness, creating memories and traditions.

We also tend to travel over the holidays, as our anniversary falls near them - our hope is to continue to take family vacations within the states and abroad as our son grows up. Growing up it was the events, not the gifts that I remember - and it is this that I want our son to remember.

Me:
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#9 of 40 Old 11-16-2007, 05:27 PM
 
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I'm not a Christmas person but here's what some of my good friends do.

Give just three gifts so it's symbolic of the wisemen gifting the christ child.


or

My New England friend uses this poem passed down in her family. "Something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read."
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#10 of 40 Old 11-16-2007, 07:16 PM
 
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I'm doing a frugal christmas this year, but I still have a bunch of gifts for my kids. Many I am making, or have traded for in craft swaps. I also always emphasize giving to others, even when my child was 1, I coordinated the town's free christmas dinner for the less fortunate. This year he is 4, we are helping 2 families with the Holiday Helpers, and making christmas cards for the old folks home. I hope to continue and when he is older, we will feed folks at homeless shelters, or collect goods needed for others in some way.

Of course we also emphasize family time. We go together to pick out our tree from a farm, we gather with extended family and of course pig out. We read lots of christmas stories and leave cookies and reindeer food out. We visit Santa and tell him what we want for christmas. I hope we dont get into the consumer part of it as he gets older, I think homeschooling helps alot with that.
We decorate and do simple seasonal rituals together, we go to the christmas lighting and parade in town. All kinds of fun things that dont just center on the gifts. Just keep to your priorities, and you will find your way.

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#11 of 40 Old 11-16-2007, 08:09 PM
 
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Originally Posted by philomom View Post
I'm not a Christmas person but here's what some of my good friends do.

Give just three gifts so it's symbolic of the wisemen gifting the christ child.


or

My New England friend uses this poem passed down in her family. "Something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read."
We've done something like this for a couple years - each child gets a book, a "big" gift from me and one from dh, and then a stocking, which has things like a fun pair of socks and new toothbrushes.

Our family is very much on board with the simplicity thing so generally they give books, clothes, or non material gifts.

Honestly, I don't worry much at all about the kids feeling deprived. For one thing, by limiting the number of gifts the ones we do get are really high quality. They end up being things they play with a lot, things that are very much loved. For another, by the time relatives give them things they end up getting quite a bit. Finally, we engage in a lot of charity work around the holidays, so my older son is starting to understand that presents aside, just having a loving family and a nice home is a gift.

Of course my kids are still pretty young, not in public school, and they don't watch much commercial tv. They don't know about the Toys R Us Big Book! But I think as long as you back up whatever gift philosophy you have with an emphasis on family and giving to others your children will be fine.

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#12 of 40 Old 11-16-2007, 09:17 PM
 
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We limit gifts for the kids. They get small stocking gifts: practical things like toothbrushes, toiletries they might need, small pads of paper, little fruits, stickers, etc.

They get a new set of jammies on Christmas Eve. Then on Christmas morning they get a book and a toy from us. This will change as they get older to perhaps a book and clothing or something else they might be interested in to replace the toy.

They still receive gifts from their grandparents and various aunts and uncles so they still have a big Christmas full of fun.

Mom of a 7 yr old, 4 yr old, and 1 yr old. Wow. How did that happen?
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#13 of 40 Old 11-16-2007, 11:35 PM
 
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I am struggling with this right now too. We will be getting our children some gifts but all their new toys are pretty much limited to their birthday and to Christmas.

One thing we'll be starting this year is a Christmas countdown calendar but many of the spaces will have notes in them for special things to do for the day. I've got lots of things I'd like to do and I worry that time will get away from me so I'm hoping that spreading things out over the month will help that. Somedays they'll get a small treat, etc. I like this idea because I think over time events/experiences/special things to do can be adjusted as the children grow. Along these lines, here's a blog with some great ideas focused on doing and not getting.

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#14 of 40 Old 11-17-2007, 02:31 AM
 
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Originally Posted by aratiaw View Post
My first thought was something like a zoo pass rather than a physical toy.
We are doing this! Our kids gifts this year are a trip to Disneyland, a zoo membership, a few books for stockings, and some art supplies..no plastic junk this year at all!!
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#15 of 40 Old 11-17-2007, 02:40 AM
 
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My children are very young, but I'm thinking about this proactively so we can set up a holiday tradition early. I remember reading some time ago on this forum that someone gave her children four gifts:

Something they want
Something they need
Something to wear
Something to read

My emphasis with these is handmade/thrifted items so that I'm not adding to the consumer craziness of the season. I debated whether or not to even do Santa. My husband was appalled that I would even question it. In my family, Santa brought one gift, something practical like ice skates or something family-oriented like a board game. My thinking is that Santa can fill the stockings and bring them one joint gift they can enjoy together.

I love the idea of a handmade holiday, and am hoping that, as the girls grow, we can create our own traditions of making decorations and donating handmade hats/mitts/scarves to less fortunate families. And cooking! Lots of cooking.

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#16 of 40 Old 11-17-2007, 03:37 AM
 
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ohhh...I have been struggling with this so much lately!

keep the thoughts/ideas coming, it helps to keep focus on what's truly important!

someone sent me this link the other day as I was lamenting this very issue:
http://www.newdream.org/holiday/index.php
http://www.simpleliving.org/indexoth...userguideA.php
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#17 of 40 Old 11-17-2007, 03:52 AM
 
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Posted this holiday tradition/ideas list on another board, thought I'd C&P it here.

-Christmas Music starts on Thanksgiving Day (or before, this year, ) It's always on, I LOVE it!

-We usually start decorating Thanksgiving weekend.

-We get a new personalized family ornament every year, and each child gets a new ornament of their own each year.

-We bake and bake and bake, giving goodies away to family, friends, coworkers, neighbors...

-We do a family Chinese Gift Exchange for the adults, each adult brings one $25 or under gift.

-We go to the Christmas program at church, and plan to go to a Christmas Pageant at another church this year, too.

-We go sledding.

-We build snowpeople in our backyard.

-We have fires all the time, I love a good crackling fire with some cocoa or apple cider.

-We kiss under the mistletoe. I hang it right in the kitchen where everyone is always hanging out. I think DH and I kiss more in December than any other month!

-We drive around looking at lights and drinking hot cocoa on Christmas Eve, then come home, light a fire, open our new (usually WAHM-made, www.funkygiraffe.com ) jammies (the one gift everyone gets Christmas Eve) and play games.

-Christmas morning we get up, turn on the Christmas music, have our traditional egg burritos, yogurt and fruit breakfast complete with sparkling cider... then my hubby reads the Christmas story aloud from Luke. We open stockings one by one, and then open gifts one by one.

NEW things we're doing this year:

*NO TV (we're shutting it off - totally!) for all of December. Christmas movies only, and limited at that. We really want to focus on being together as a family, playing games, baking/cooking together, doing crafts, making gifts, delivering goodies and treats, and whatever else we're led to without the distraction of TV. We're really excited to see how this little "project" pans out.

*ALL handmade gifts for friends and extended family, besides the Chinese Gift Exchange that we'll do with my extended family. Everything else will be gifts in a jar, handpainted / handcrafted, and/or consumables.

*REALLY limited gifts for our kids. My oldest has gotten a case of the gimmies the last year or so, and we want to refocus our family on the TRUE meaning of Christmas, giving, loving, sharing... NOT receiving, shopping, buying... My kids are each getting 3 main gifts in addition to their stockings, and that's it. I plan to spend less than $150 combined for both of them - WAY pared down from usual. We just threw out all MIC toys, so this year we spent more than we would normally have on wooden playthings.
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#18 of 40 Old 11-17-2007, 04:12 AM
 
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does anyone know of a website where you can create/send your own e-Christmas cards?
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#19 of 40 Old 11-17-2007, 01:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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What wonderful ideas!!! Thank you so much for your replies (and keep them coming!). I think part of my guilt is that all year I put off the gimmies by saying, "well, why don't you write that on your Christmas list and see what happens". Then he has this list of stuff he's been interested in all year, and he won't get most of it. But hey, that's life, right? And if I get one or two open ended, really good toys, they'll be more fun than a zillion lame ones!
I am inspired to look for some kind of family service project right now--I always want to do something, but don't know where to start!!
Thanks!
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#20 of 40 Old 11-17-2007, 03:23 PM
 
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I am struggling with this same issue. I think I am going to do the 3 gifts idea and stockings. An additional problem is that they are the only granchilcren in the family, so lots of doting relatives want to buy them stuff.
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#21 of 40 Old 11-17-2007, 03:39 PM
 
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We LOVE our family zoo membership that they receive each year from a great-grandparent.

My problem is that the extended family wants me to buy Christmas gifts for all three boys and two of my boys have birthdays right at Christmas which they also want me to buy for. I love when I can combine gift money to make for a larger gift, but I'm not sure how to limit the number of items coming into our home when the extended family wants to honor each child with their own little gift.

We are blessed with so many (too many) things already. I would love to see any big ticket ($50-$100) ideas for 3 boys (age newborn-4). There have already been some great ideas!

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#22 of 40 Old 11-19-2007, 07:32 PM
 
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This is just what I needed to read today. I have been figuring and refiguring how to have a credit card free, simple, as stress free as possible Christmas today!! I was feeling all :, I have that same sort of guilt you are describing about your dc having the simple joy of opening gifts. We always had over the top Christmases as children in my family, and I have such wonderful memories. Dh and I just don't have the resources to pull that off, nor would we want to in some ways.
I am really picky about what I will or won't buy for the kids or bring into the house. I look for Fair Trade, environmentally friendly (no plastic) gifts. This year, I have it narrowed down to one nice wooden forklift for ds, along with a snowplow attachment for a wooden truck he already has. I'll buy it from www.thewoodenwagon.com He'll also get a playsilk (he likes to wear them as capes). Those are his Santa gifts. From us, he will get a locally made child sized broom, a book, a handknit (by me) scarf. Dd will find a family of dollhouse dolls (from www.threesisterstoys.com), a wooden elephant mama and baby (www.woodenwagon.com), and a playsilk under the tree from Santa. We're giving her a broom, a book, and a scarf.

I love the suggestions about playing lots of music and baking a lot. We are going to make an advent wreath next week, and some paper window stars to brighten up the darkest time of the year.

Thanks for making me realize I'm not alone in this! I often wonder if it's unfair for my children to have such a brooding, overly analytic mother! Like half of me thinks, "Lighten up, woman!" and the other half is like, "Um. Climate change! Fair labor! De-Clutter!" Sheesh. :

so many roads to ease my soul...

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#23 of 40 Old 11-22-2007, 12:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Anamama, we are totally on the same page! I feel like I'm laying all the suffering of the world on their heads, which is NOT the way to raise happy, healthy people, which is what we need our kids to be given the crazy world they're inheriting!
So far my gift ideas are: Playmobil cargo ship for my son (I know, I know, plastic etc, but he's consistently wanted it for 2 years, and spends HOURS in imaginative play with playmobils!), and a bigger street hockey net. Dollhouse (playmobil or wood, haven't decided) and a new sled for my daughter. Oh, and a knit baby doll for the baby, if I can finish it! We also do St Nicholas stockings (Dec. 6), when they'll get new playsilks, maybe new wool socks, and some candy.
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#24 of 40 Old 11-22-2007, 08:30 AM
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I love emphasizing activities and tradition of the season. But we also love making, choosing, and giving gifts at Xmastime, and think it is possible to be generous without raising kids who are overwhelmed/spoiled by the culture of advertising/selling. My siblings and I were raised very frugally and with lots of emphasis on togetherness, tradition, etc -- and it still was a lot of fun for our folks to give us lots of gifts, be inventive, be generous. It helped us learn to accept gifts graciously, and that our parents were allowed to be generous without us becoming grabby or greedy.

So we don't necessarily place a specific limit on the number or type of things we give our son for Xmas. We try to be reasonable, but while Xmas is not about uncontrolled consumption for us, it's also not about controlling the impulse of generosity too much. Giving presents is a way of showing love that appeals to us at this culturally-sanctioned season for doing so!

I don't think we can help but analyze - isn't that what parents do?
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#25 of 40 Old 11-22-2007, 01:59 PM
 
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Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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#26 of 40 Old 11-23-2007, 07:50 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Tradd View Post
I don't have kids, but I buy for my 2.5 yo goddaughter and her new sister. Books. I almost always buy books! Their parents are big on books, too. Something else to think about might be "experience" gifts (depends on the age of your kids) - art/music lessons, park/museum memberships; art & craft supplies, music CDs (I got my goddaughter a great one by Sandra Boyton called "Philadelphia Chickens," book with CD set, big band/show tune set. I listened to the CD myself - very funny!), in addition to books.
OT:
Due to my exhaustion I read the philadelphia chickens as pedophiliac chickens..... Made for one unusual thought process.


ON topic:
This year we are forced not only by my anti consumeristic thinking but by DH's loss of job to have a small solstice/xmas. I did buy DD 2 board games for $8.55 yesterday and that is likely all she will get. I have a few blank playsilks from over the summer I never dyed so I might dye them and use them as wrapping paper. DH and I are probably not going to exchange gifts this year because we can't afford it.

On years when we CAN afford to do presents our goal is usually 2-4 presents per person. DH typically gets some clothing, a gift card, and a book and a homemade gift from DD and I. I'll typically get some sweatpants/pj related item, a gift card, or craft related goods. DD will get some toys that leave room for imagination or education. Playsilks, puzzles, books, artsy stuff. This year, like I said she'll be getting two board games for us to teach her.

GREAT MOM to dd (5) and )ds( [sept 26 2006]
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#27 of 40 Old 11-23-2007, 07:53 AM
 
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Oh, in terms of making it more family-like We decorate together with lights or whatnot and we make paper snowflakes and snow-people for the windows, we drive around at night looking at lights. We'll hand-make xmas cards to send out and let DD scribble/color inside over our black merry holidays writing.

GREAT MOM to dd (5) and )ds( [sept 26 2006]
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#28 of 40 Old 11-23-2007, 11:36 AM
 
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Originally Posted by randallquiver View Post

We are blessed with so many (too many) things already. I would love to see any big ticket ($50-$100) ideas for 3 boys (age newborn-4). There have already been some great ideas!
If I could afford it, I'd buy my younger two a NICE set of wooden blocks.
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#29 of 40 Old 11-23-2007, 12:38 PM
 
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How about a wooden doll house. I would like to get my boys one of those. I know it's not a typical "boy" toy, but I think they would like it.
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#30 of 40 Old 11-27-2007, 10:42 AM
 
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Thank you for this wonderful thread! It gave me the warm fuzzies to read through this morning. "Simple and joyful" exactly captures what we love about the Christmas season.

For me, I find that the feeling of abundance comes more from the atmosphere of festivity and celebration, rather than the stuff. Decorating the house, baking together, singing carols, hanging ornaments, spending time together as a family in the evenings... that's abundance, to me. The focus of the season for us is religious, and I also find that the various acts of service we incorporate into the season end up reflecting back on the home atmosphere as well.

This weekend we put up a big tree for downstairs and a small tree for the bedroom/nursery, and I have such a strong vision of sitting in the rocking chair late at night, the room dark except for the twinkling Christmas lights, holding a days-old newborn in my arms, nursing and marvelling and praying in thankfulness. That, to me, is the essence of abundance.


On the material front, I'm making all our gifts for my LOs this year. Super simple. My IRL friends and I call it the "Little House in the Big Woods" approach to Christmas. I also find that making things myself is the best way to give them natural, open-ended, imaginative toys without spending a fortune on handcrafted wooden goodness... that's what grandparents are for : . So I win too, because ending up with a few well-chosen toys is WAY better for my anti-clutter personality than buying mountains of plastic stuff I'll just purge in a year (BTDT when my first was a toddler).

The one thing that's all store-bought are the stocking stuffers. We don't do Santa, so our stocking tradition is that our LOs fill them for each other. It's a small way of working in the whole "giving" aspect in. Plus, I win again, because they'll be totally responsible for each other in later years. Ha! This is our last year of having only two children, but we'll figure out how to divvy up the names when they're older and then turn them loose. I'm all for delegation.

Right now, with just the two of them, DH and I choose a day to split up and each take a girl out on a shopping outing (and either meet up all together afterwards for lunch, or each take "our" girl out for lunch as part of the afternoon together). Each girl picks out a handful of inexpensive gifts for her sister (a new toothbrush, art supplies, that sort of thing), and then they get to secretly tuck them into the other one's stocking on Christmas Eve. This year my older daughter has invented an elaborate story about the Snowflake Fairy, and has set aside a special sparkly princess dress and angel wings that she plans to wear while she fills her sister's stocking.

Tending a garden of little ones. stillheart.gif
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