By Elizabeth of RunningFamily.net, Contributing Writer
Since we have given away over half of our household items (190 bags to charity), we have gained a whole new perspective on our consumer culture. Basically, it stinks.
Yes, we need stuff to live as human beings, but truly over-abundance has become the curse of our post-modern world. Then comes Christmas. How do we celebrate Christmas without giving into the consumer culture when we have children who want presents?
And what do we do when our family thinks we are nuts and will not listen to our pleas for moderation? How do we address the moral implications of buying goods all made of horrible plastics from China? Good questions. Ones we continue to wrestle with year after year.
Honestly, we have prayed a ton about this topic. Since our first principles are that we believe the Bible is true and Christmas should celebrate our Savior, we are focusing on remaining true to those principles. Doing that is not simple.
How to Have a Meaningful and Simple Christmas
First, we have shared continually with our family about our vision for simplicity. All throughout the year, we continue to remind them that we are getting rid of stuff. I am somewhat infamous in my family for being relentless about sharing. I will give you just about anything you want out of my house. If you need it and I am not using it this exact second, just ask. Our family has noticed.
At Christmas we have several relatives who ask us what we would like the children to have. As parents, that is music to our ears. Then, we are free to mention specific things that the children need and like.
Give Things They Need
Andrea needed a coat and one grandma picked out a lovely winter coat that she adores. The boys loved their camo pants so much they wore them to shreds partially because they knew Grandma had picked them out.
Give the Gift of Experiences
An uncle and aunt took the children on adventures to the zoo as part of Christmas adventures which actually happened in the Springtime.
Another uncle took our son to his job at an airport several holidays ago. Seeing the runways and machines is still a highlight of his little life.
We are so blessed to have loads of family who love our children. We try to emphasize to our family that our children love them and want time with our family more than anything. Toys will be gone someday but shared memories help to build bonds that last forever.
Second, we have tried to do themes and plan ahead. We tried to let family know what we are studying in school and they have gotten us books related to our topics.
We also have done a “Homemade” Christmas and that was fun. We try to be creative and communicate early. We have participated in Samaritan’s Purse Shoe Box Gift program. Planning Christmas concerts and adventures to see the lights or a Christmas church service has created wonderful memories for our children.
The Right to Refuse
Thirdly, I retain the right of absolute veto power over gifts. If we receive a gift in a package, I always open it without the children present. I decide when and where the gift is received. I have completely unwrapped gifts to make certain they were safe. Choke-able items are sneaky and completely unintended dangers.
I do save presents for after Christmas so we celebrate sometimes all the way to Epiphany in January. I explain this to any family sending gifts and all have been understanding and supportive.
Relax and Enjoy
Lastly, we relax. We enjoy the holidays. We give our children toys. We allow our family to give gifts to our children if they want to, even though several of our family members do not all agree or understand our values of conservation and stewardship. We try to keep the childhood greed to a minimum, so we try to teach thankfulness.
In order to do that, we try to model genuine thankfulness; even if it is a gift we do not need at all or want to be in our house. We love the people so much we are thankful for their giving hearts. The simple grace and love of God to us and to our dear family gives us the deep joy and meaning in Christmas and throughout the year.
How does your family celebrate a meaningful and simple Christmas?
Elizabeth is living her life dream of running, writing, and raising four wild children in a little log home in the woods. She juggles blogging at www.runningfamily.net about healthy living, running, real food, and simple faith-filled living while trying to homeschool and practice Elimination Communication. She fails often at all of this but is trying to learn to live by grace.
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