Finding Balance At Christmas

It’s November 1st, which means I’m officially allowed to go into full blown Christmas mode! Those of you who think we aren’t supposed to celebrate Christmas until after Thanksgiving.. Don’t be such a Grinch (*cough**cough*my husband*cough*).

I love everything about this time of the year; the music, the lights, the decorations, the horrible acting in Hallmark movies. I love giving gifts, and finding any excuse to bake cookies. I love seeing the magic in my 4 year olds’ eyes, because at this age, EVERYTHING is magic!

But, as a Christian, how do we find balance in celebrating Christmas? Santa is fun and magical, but he’s not the reason for the season. Jesus is! So where is the balance?

When Emerson was a year old, my husband and I discussed this pretty deeply. We both believed in Santa as children and we didn’t want to steal that magic away from our kids, but we are responsible for the Spiritual growth of our kids! How we decide to do Christmas could drastically impact their entire walk with the Lord.

After more discussion, and lots of prayer, here are the rules we decided on:

Rule 1 – St. Nicholas is/was real. He gives gifts in order to show the love of Jesus

St. Nicholas was a devout Catholic Bishop who used his entire inheritance from his wealthy parents to help the poor and needy. The man LOVED the Lord and was totally bought in.

We want our kids to know magic in their youth. The world will eventually kill the magic and it doesn’t need our helping doing it. Therefore, I see no harm in allowing them to believe that there is a man, who loves Jesus, and exists just to bring toys to boys and girls.

Rule 2 – Four Gifts

Four gifts per person still looks like a lot under the tree! It still gives me that “Christmas Morning” feeling, seeing all the presents stacked up under the tree, but it also limits the sense of entitlement that so many children these days are building. So what are the 4 gifts?

  1. Something you want – This still allows the Fun of Christmas. It’s the big gift. It’s the lego set, or American Girl doll. We aren’t quite to the iPod/iPad stage yet, but this is where those big ticket gifts would fall. They just get one because, quite frankly, they don’t need more than that.
  2. Something you need – Practical. New shoes, new backpack, maybe even new bedsheets. It’s not the fun gift, it’s the practical one.
  3. Something to wear – My favorite part of Christmas was always the new clothes and Black Friday is the best time to stock up on jeans! Again, it’s a practical gift. Maybe your kids love new clothes, maybe they don’t.
  4. Something to read – We LOVE books in our house! Everyone gets a new book at Christmas.

Rule 3 – Santa Fills the Stockings and Brings One Small Toy

We let Santa take credit for the stockings and one small toy. This still provides the sense of magic Christmas morning, and it gives the kids a reason to go see Santa or write a letter to Santa. The toy is usually something classic, like a toy truck, or a small doll. We do not go over-board with big ticket gifts from Santa Claus.

Rule 4 – Emphasize Family Time, not things

Part of my favorite thing about Christmas is the family time!! I LOVE decorating the house together, baking cookies and breads, picking out a Christmas tree, walking (or driving) through a light show. I just LOVE the family part of Christmas. We make sure to do something together OFTEN throughout November and December. We try to do something that focuses on family time, every weekend, even if it’s simple; like Friday night we order pizza, pull blankets and pillows into the living room and watch Christmas movies all evening.

If you need help with ideas for things to do as a family that won’t break the bank, check out my list of 25 Free or Cheap Activities for Families During Christmas!

Happy Holidays, All! I hope you find these Rules helpful as you navigate through the Holidays with your family.

I know and acknowledge that every family is different. The above advice is what has worked for our family.

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