Thursday, December 1, 2011

25 days of kindness...starting now!

So we had been thinking of ways to really focus in on Jesus this Christmas with the kids, now that they are a little older and understand even more. I think the temptation is to make it all about Santa and gifts and all of that. Here are a few ways over the years we have tried to keep our focus on the right things...
DISCLAIMER: In no way am I saying that I am doing things right and Santa/wish lists/whatever are wrong. Everyone has Christmas tradition, some from your family of origin, some you create as you go along your journey as a family.  We have tried to be very strategic to come up with a plan to make sure our kids are exposed to a Christ centered Christmas perspective.  I don't have all of the answers, nor am I doing everything right, but this is where we are right now. I am passing no judgement here.

1. We have tried to stay away from the idea Santa or pretend that he brings the gifts:
Yes...bah humbug I guess. But I don't know. The show of it all gets me down somehow. I had a hard time thinking about pretending that a man will come down our chimney and bring our kids gifts. Plus, Santa is exciting. So much so that we may just miss Jesus if we did Santa justice in the eyes of our 3 & 5 year old.
What we do: we have a book about St. Nick. I love St. Nick. St. Nick would fill the little orphans socks as they dried on the line with special gifts on Christmas eve. We talk about how Santa is reflecting generosity. But we do not celebrate Santa because that is more about what he will do for me.
In addition, i think the temptation as a mom is to withhold gifts or threaten to lose gifts "if you're naughty" or when you have a behavior issue with your child near Christmas, I know i am tempted to threaten to take gifts back or whatever. But I have to remind myself God doesn't show his love to us conditionally based on if we are naughty or nice. God blesses us with his love and forgiveness even when we are at our worst. This is why I give my kids gifts at Christmas, not because they have been nice that year/month/day.  I give them gifts as a reflection of Christ giving us the best gift, no strings attached, unconditionally.  That is why our three gifts sit under the tree from us.
Another reason I steer clear of the jolly man in red is the disappointment I felt as a kid when I found out it was all a hoax. And I also feel like I treated God like santa claus from about the ages of 3-13. I guess that is the only un-seen person I had to compare God to. So i would pray God my wish list and wait for it to come true, until I really understood who God is.

2. We have strayed away from wish lists: The idea of asking my kids to sit down and write out what they want just hasn't set right with me. This plays right in to the mess in our hearts, my own very much so included. Plus it plays up there little hearts to think they will get exactly what they wish for...and life rarely works like that. Thankfully so. It puts a lot of pressure on me to just get what they ask for instead of what the giver wants to get for them. So we do 3 gifts from John and I and a stocking. They don't know what they are getting nor do I ask. So far, even this year, Reese hasn't ever told me something she wants. I know this will change as she gets older and that will be a great discussion point about what Giving is all about.
One of the kids gifts this year is a sponsor child each in the AMAZIMA ( program. They will be able to write letters to them through out the year, and I may be able to visit them when I go in April. They've already written the kids so that will be an awesome gift that gives both ways this Christmas!

3. We do a birthday party for Jesus- and we do it big! I let the kids make the cake mostly on their own and ice it, sprinkle it, put a big J in candy on it, etc. We sing, blow out the candles, re-light it and blow them out again, and sing. Its been a tradition since Reese was 4 months old and we love it! Its such a good reminder of what we are actually celebrating.

4. We want to have a spirit of giving: Since reese was our only, I have tried to make this month about giving. We clear out toy buckets and give away toys we don't play with and I ask the kids to part with one special toy that we can give to another. I don't want them to get used to just giving the leftovers or unwanted toys, so I ask them to part with a special one of their choice. We pack lunches for the homeless men and pass them out when we see them at the corner. We also do operation christmas child boxes and they pick all that goes in them and what age and gender they want their box to go to. Now this year we are doing.....
25 days of kindness! I am super excited about this and got this idea from the Christmas Angel and
You can follow along with ideas of how to light up your community with giving!

Today was day 1 for us and they both took apples to their teachers with a picture they drew for them. We talked about why we are giving and doing acts of kindness and the kids were totally pumped for it! I was helping wheeler scribble down what he loves about his teachers when Reese handed me her finished artworks. One said:
"Miss Chiu- i lik beig with you. God loves you. Mary Crismis."  and the next...
"Miss Pedrs (peters)- i lik yur hugs. God loves you. Mary Crismis".
Heart melt! I love that little girl's heart and how she boldly shares the love of Christ much better than I do.
Wheeler of course wanted me to write "I like throwing the ball with you Miss Beth." and "miss Gail is nice and fun". :)

So join me this month as we celebrate the best gift anyone can receive!
(and don't judge me for not liking santa... :)

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