This is Week 4 of the Simplify the Season series.
What are your fondest memories of Christmas when you were growing up?
Is it stomping through a snow covered tree farm to find the perfect Christmas Tree? How about putting up the Tree and decorations with your family? Maybe it’s the traditional breakfast or meal that you had on Christmas Day? Or the candle lighting service at your church on Christmas Eve?
Do you remember the gifts you got for Christmas when you were younger?
Sure, you probably remember a few really special and meaningful gifts you received, or maybe even a few gifts that didn’t meet your expectations. But really, do you remember what was actually in those beautifully wrapped presents under the tree year after year?
When I started thinking about my childhood memories of Christmas, I realized that almost none of my memories and favorite things about Christmas involved the actual gifts. My parents did a really good job of instilling traditions to our Christmas season that became our family rhythm every year, and were the things that we as kids looked forward to the most (although my parents may not agree that presents weren’t the most important to me!), are the things that I remember most fondly now, and helped to point our hearts toward Jesus.
When I realized that my memories don’t revolve around the presents that I did, or did not receive, I knew that the same would probably be true of my kids, and that I wanted to make sure that our family continued traditions, or started our own traditions, that would point our hearts toward Jesus, and become my children’s favorite memories as they grow older.
So, as you’re thinking about and wrestling with simplifying your gift giving this Christmas, I want to encourage you not to think about what your kids or family won’t be receiving, and instead focus on the traditions and memories that you can make together as a family, and give to your family, that are more significant than any gift they could receive, and will probably remembered long after all the new and shiny gifts have lost their charm.
And that doesn’t have to mean that none of your traditions or memories can be about gifts. We’ve started a tradition of giving our kids a pair of pajamas and a game on Christmas Eve, and then we all change into our new jammies and play the game together as a family. And I envision how this tradition will only grow as our kids grow older and are able to understand and play more complicated games. Growing up, my mom gave us a new Christmas book every year, and now she has an amazing collection of Christmas books that my kids love to read when we visit at Christmas time.
But we try to make sure that our traditions are more about the time spent together as a family, as well as celebrating Jesus, then they are about the actual gift.
So think about the traditions that you are building with your family, the traditions that will turn into the memories of your family as the years go by. And remember that those memories hold a more lasting impact for your children than the gifts under the tree.
What are your favorite Christmas traditions or memories from when you were growing up. How are you creating traditions and memories that will carry with your family for years to come?
Read all the posts in the Simplify the Season series.
If you’d like to learn more about living green and living frugally I’d love to have you as a Live Renewed reader! You can subscribe, either by email or in a reader, to get the latest posts, ideas and inspiration for living frugally green. You can also connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest!