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Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Different kind of Christmas
I've really struggled with Christmas over the past few years, and last year was the last straw. I remember looking at the mountains of presents - some which I can regrettably say have just sat on a shelf most of the past year untouched. I wondered where Jesus was in all of this. We always focus on the Nativity at Christmas and use an advent candle etc; but something has always been missing.

This year we decided to do things differently. We have brought gifts from Fair Trade and World Vision for family members. We have started a Jesse Tree today with the children, which focuses on God's prophecies and promises of the Messiah. I am posting these devotions on my blog if you want to follow. I don't think I will feel we have made a big enough change by the end of Christmas, but it's a good start which I feel positive about and know that we will find more of Jesus in.

Do you struggle to find Jesus in Christmas? How do you celebrate? How as Christians can we avoid the consumerism within Christmas without our children feel like they are missing out? Finally, I've been thinking about the origin of Christmas lately. How was it celebrated prior to Saint Nicholas being given the Santa Claus tag by Coca Cola and so forth? Any insight you have into this would be good. I'll look it up on the net when I have time one day ;-)
posted by Lyn at 11:04 AM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 11/28/2007 01:15:00 PM, Blogger Carmen Andres

    a couple of weeks ago, i ruminated on something similiar - we also decided to go with a free trade organization for gifts this year (Ten Thousand Villages, an Mennonite Central Committee organization)! our decision was more an outgrowth of some of the ruminating we've been doing about what it means to be the church and how we can be good stewards with all the stuff God's put in our hands for now. i got some more ideas from friendss (you can see them here) about how to involve children in alternatives to the standard gift buying frenzy that occurs at Christmas - though i must admit, i LOVE Christmas and i love giving gifts. for me, thinking through and procurring gifts (handmade or freetrade) is almost a spiritual discipline, a kind of participation in and reminding of the love that exploded out in Jesus. anyway, just some scatter thoughts as i type away the last few minutes before i must leave to pick up my kids from school! have a blessed Christmas!

  • At 11/28/2007 02:09:00 PM, Blogger Shawna Renee

    I always have an advent wreath and daily advent devotionals during this time of the year. I'd like to get an advent calendar too.

    I don't have children, but here are a couple of things my friends have done. Some choose to give one big gift and a stocking stuffer to each child and others give three presents to their children because the Magi presented three gifts to Jesus. And I don't think they're being robbed. Honestly, I don't remember getting more than three, may be four, presents as a kid and that includes stocking stuffers. And my favorite Christmas memories were when we were with family we normally didn't see.

    Carmen I think the handmade gifts are a great idea. Next year, I need to actually make a plan to get some gifts made. Because "wanting to" like I wanted to this year doesn't mean it gets done.

  • At 11/28/2007 02:22:00 PM, Blogger Kelly Dueck

    This subject has been an ongoing conversation with my parents over the years. As they get older, they dislike shopping and the consumerism less and less. My Dad's comment has been for years, "Please don't buy me anything." And my response has been, "I will give gifts when I want to and to whom I want to." Okay, maybe a little latent rebellion there, but I think that he' missing the point.

    Christmas for me is so much fun, as far as gift giving, I mean. Yeah, its expensive, and we could definitely use a scale back there, but the point is that this is a time where we can give.

    I have non-Christian relatives that we wouldn't just give a gift to at any other time. It would just be awkward and weird. But at Christmas, I get to enter into a conversation with Jesus about what he would like to give them. Often my husband or I will right out a prophetic word or blessing to go with the gift.

    Instead of making this about trying to remember Jesus in this season, why not just do the season with him? Let the gifts, the parties, the family times be opportunities to meet with him and speak into each others lives.

    It's not about remembering him, or observing traditions or doing the right thing. Its about relationship. With him and each other.

  • At 11/28/2007 06:13:00 PM, Blogger Heather

    It's so difficult to compete with the consumerism while also not making the children feel as if they are left out when their friends all get piles of gifts.

    We buy our children one (yes, ONE) gift each, and a few small gifts for their stocking. Our total spend on each of them is much less than one hundred dollars. Yes, we probably could scrape some money together and afford much more - but why? They have everything they need and more.

    We buy the children in our extended family books each year. We insist on the gifts at least being educational, not plastic and liable to break the following day.

    For the adults in our extended family and our friends we buy cards from TEAR.

    In the middle of this, we re-iterate the nativity story as well as other stories about Jesus, and we sing the old hymn-style carols together every day after the tree is up. We also remember those who do not have family during Christmas, and we pray for them.

    Oh, and our children do not believe in Santa, and it has not harmed them one iota. We tell them Santa is a story people tell at christmas time - akin to Cinderella or Snow White.

  • At 11/28/2007 06:28:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Kwon

    Kelly, I really resonate with what you're saying. Also about the Fair Trade. I'm using Trader Joes bags for wrapping paper this year :)

  • At 11/29/2007 11:44:00 AM, Blogger Julie

    This is a weird issue for me. I am very much a supporter of Fair Trade, but I really don't want to spend money on random decorative items (fairly traded or not) that my family doesn't want or need. Same thing with handmade gifts. Sure the thought is nice, but why spend time sewing or knitting something they will never wear? That just seems wasteful and actually more consumeristic
    (stuff for the sake of stuff) to me. If I am giving gifts, I would rather give them a book off their Amazon Wishlist and know that it is something they want and will make use of. But I've always been into very practical gifts like books... although a Fair Trade food gift basket sounds very practical and yummy too...

  • At 11/29/2007 12:06:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Kwon

    I wonder if part of how we approach Christmas has to do with love languages...like for someone whose language is acts of service, many gifts (or as Julie put it, "randomly decorative objects) seems superfluous, yet for those whom gift giving is an important love language, the act of picking out something special/meaningful for someone is significant in communicating love.

  • At 11/29/2007 03:06:00 PM, Blogger wit4life

    Hi there,
    As for us We usually gift to Samaritans Purse primarily, so it goes to tangible things blankets, medicine, meals for the needy, or rescue from slavery. We keep gifts to under $20 each, usually 10-15$ for the kids, and skip giving (on my side of the family with the adults). My kids are still under age 8. When they get older, we might bump it to 30$. Spending time together is what is most joyful, not stuff for our family. and one thing I've enjoyed doing is signing "happy Birthday to Jesus" on Christmas morning. This was something my husband's family did that I wanted to add to our family tradition. Baking and making gifts is a nice way to avoid some of the trapping of things, but it is hard to avoid the pressures of the mall mentality and the great sales. Thanks for all the great new ideas. I'll be incorporating some new things in this year that I read here.

  • At 11/30/2007 03:22:00 AM, Blogger Lyn H

    Thanks for all of your comments. It's good to read about how you celebrate, your views etc. I think I resonate with Heather and Julie in terms of gifts. I just didn't write it in my blurb! We are giving the kids one big gift this year and a couple of stocking fillers. In terms of wider family, and my husband and I included, ask us what we would like and we all say "I don't know". This is why we decided to do the World Vision gifts as there are people out there who really do need something for Christmas - a blanket, clean water, mosquito net etc. Therefore giving that gift in a family members name we feel is a real gift to both recipients. I've given up buying little ornaments, trinkets and toiletries etc which just sit around gathering dust. So, I guess, as Julie wrote, if there is something one of our relatives want then I will gladly buy it, but I'm tired of just trying to find something for the sake of a gift that no one really wants. I'd rather put the money to better use, and our wider family really seem up for having alternative gifts this year.

  • At 12/30/2007 10:46:00 PM, Blogger Mother Laura

    We don't do Santa either and we all love it. (We didn't want them questioning the existence of Jesus, God or their big sister in heaven when they found out the other beneficient invisible characters weren't real...) This also keeps our kids very unmaterialistic and happy with their two gifts apiece and stockings and excited about sharing with others.

    We also celebrate Advent during Advent and Christmas throughout liturgical Christmas season, focusing on the Advent wreath and hymns during bedtime prayers, no Christmas carols or tree till Christmas Eve, and we all like that too. (We do go to school pageants and other people's parties if invited).


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