Other than the advent wreath I’ve never really participated in Advent. Once I became a Christian I held on to Christmas as I had learned it and simply added the wreath. This year, for some unknown reason, I wanted to dig into it more deeply: reading up on it, setting up a Jesse Tree, etc. In other words making it much more Christ-centric than it has been in the past. My main problem, I thought, was getting my son on board.
Then he called me up and said, “No, presents for the kids this year. I’m tired of the kids ripping open one present just to toss it aside and get to the next one. This year is going to be about love and family. I figure we only have to do this one year to get the point across.” I had mixed feelings. On the one hand it really bothered me that I couldn’t provide them with gifts. On the other hand I understood where he was coming from: I went through this when he was a kid. We can just buy our kids too much. It really goes overboard when you add on the gifts from the grandparents plus aunts and uncles to the ones you’re buying them. I could really see his point, but no gifts at all? I did get on board.
One reason was I knew he wasn’t going to be able to get the other side of his family to agree, so the kids would be getting gifts. So, if you were worried for them on that respect, no need. He called the other night to let me know what I already knew: they would be buying them presents. I’m also buying some family gifts that we can all enjoy together (I got the okay on that.) The other reason I agreed was that I also wanted the kids to have a greater appreciation of Christmas. No, how to bring that about?
- Teach them the history St. Nicholas aka Santa Claus. Let them know that he was a saint because he had so much love for God and his fellow man. I did some research on his actual life, but I did find out that he is the protector of children. That will be a good thing for them to know. Btw, there is actually a movie in production about St. Nicholas. You can see the details here.
- Replace secret Santa with secret saint. Yes, I know that santa means saint, but they don’t. I got this idea from this post at the Hahn Family Blog. It works just like secret santa, but instead of buying them gifts the secret saint will build up spiritual treasures for them through prayer and offering up to God their work, suffering, etc. for the recipient’s intentions. I’m thinking of heart-shaped lockets with a picture of each us that we can wear next to our hearts as a way to remember them throughout the days leading up to Christmas.
- Then there will be coloring the symbols for the Jesse Tree and decorating it along with reading the scriptures.
- As I mentioned previously, there will be a family gift that we can all enjoy together on Christmas Day along with Christmas dinner and, perhaps, a Christmas movie.
Hopefully, this will help them gain a greater appreciation for Christmas. It has already helped me: as I was researching St. Nicholas I realized the problem wasn’t the externals–Christmas tree, gifts, feasting, etc. The problem came from not understanding and appreciating the foundation undergirding the symbols/externals.
So, why am I calling my son a Grinch when he is trying to help his family understand what Christmas is really all about? Because even though the Grinch stole all of the presents and decorations when he returned them to the citizens of Whoville everyone was much richer for it.
Well, in Whoville they say -that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day. And then -the true meaning of Christmas came through, and the Grinch found the strength of ten Grinches, plus two! – Dr. Seuss
May we all grow in knowledge and come to a greater love for the foundations that under-gird our holidays! God bless!