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My Highly-Theoretical Christmas

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We are trying out a few new ideas this Christmas, and I’m a little worried excited to see how it all turns out. πŸ™‚

1. We’re taking the Christ out of Christmas. That’s right, I said it. We have moved away from religion ourselves over the last five years and don’t feel comfortable including religious elements in our celebration anymore, so a few things are conspicuously missing from our Christmas get-up this year: the nativity scene, religious music, and the Christmas Eve candlelight service.

What we’re doing instead: A nature-themed tree, decorated with birds, stars, dried orange slices, popcorn garlands and anything else we think of before the 25th. An hour-long playlist of Christmas classics that range from “A Marshmallow World” to “Cool Yule.” J’adore! And it turns out you can buy obscene (…haha) quantities of candles at IKEA for a freckle and a hair past free, so I’m getting my candle fix. It feels different, but still a substantial step above the Christmas we spent hunkered down in a deserted Shari’s diner because it was the only place that was open on a holiday that we didn’t feel good about observing. (Side note, Jewish people have not had problems with consumers secularizing Hanukkah…and all they have had to do to preserve the sanctity of their holiday of choice is not demand that it be observed as a federal holiday.)

2. We aren’t pre-sorting the gifts. This one is sort of a social experiment I’m doing, and to be honest I’m a little nervous about it. In an effort to avoid subconsciously pigeonholing my kids into gender stereotypes, I am not buying them individual presents.

What we’re doing instead: I’m buying things that look cool or useful, sticking them under the tree and seeing who gravitates towards what. Obviously this year won’t be very telling, since Darren is memorizing the names of the planets while Melia is still largely immobile. I wanted to get the tradition established, though, so we’re doing it. Hopefully Darren won’t interpret this as a survival of the fittest situation. I did tuck some baby things in there that are very obviously only meant for Melia, so we’ll see how it goes.

3. We aren’t buying crap. My mother, bless her heart, gives the worst presents in the world. Really. We’re talking miniature keyboard vacuums shaped like pigs bad. I hated Christmas as a kid because I knew it meant I’d get a mountain of garbage that I really didn’t want, and then I’d have to spend the month of January writing thank you notes for all of it. My biggest holiday-related goal as a parent has been to use gifts to build my relationship with my children. I want them to feel the thought and energy that goes into selecting presents that they will appreciate.

What we’re doing instead: With all this in mind, I thought about jumping on the DIY bandwagon this year (yeah, okay, my addiction may have had something to do with it, too…), but when I started budgeting out the money I’d spend on DIY-ing crap that wouldn’t be reusable next year I decided to revise my plan. I am making things by hand when it is more economical to do so (mainly decorations and edibles), and putting the money saved toward buying better presents for the kids. A lot of the gifts are school-related; Inchimals and a piano keyboard are the big ticket items this year. I have also tried to select a few unique things that will be interesting to each kid, though. Melia is getting The Rattle (pics to come later, I’m in love with this one…which undoubtedly means she’ll break my heart by never playing with it…) and a pear. Darren is getting a keychain measuring tape, a stuffed hedgehog and a starship coloring book. Those may sound like we unusual Christmas gifts to you, but not if you know my son! My hope is that, years from now when my kids think back on the holidays we spent together, they’ll realize that those little things that made them smile didn’t happen by accident. This is my way of sending a message into the future, to let those future versions of my kids know that, whatever happens, I will be there for them, tuned in and engaged. I can’t be an A+ parent, but I will get my E for effort!

What will stay the same: I am carrying three traditions on from my own childhood: reading “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas” by candlelight on Christmas Eve, along with the promise of a $20 bill to anyone who can recite the poem from memory…three generations of kids in my family have now tried and failed to earn that money! We will also continue making gloriously gaudy gingerbread houses, and lovingly crafting Aunt Chick’s Santa Cookies for friends and family. We didn’t go all-out on the cookies this year, but eventually I hope to live up to my Nana’s legacy in that department. πŸ™‚

What about you? Are you launching any new traditions this holiday season, or passing on anything special that you hope your children remember? I’d love to hear what you have planned!


Written by GRSeim

December 16, 2011 at 6:06 am

5 Responses

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  1. Yeah we’re probably having a pretty low key Christmas this year too. I think I will make cards for several people and write some nice things about them and what I appreciate about them in there. Then I will probably get them something small. We don’t really spend a whole lot on Christmas and aren’t into getting big expensive gifts. I just enjoy getting to see my brother from San Diego for Christmas and having us all together, and making Christmas cookies with my brothers. We make them from scratch and use all these different cut-outs and make our own frosting in a variety of colors and it’s a lot of fun. Glad you will be making a lot of cookies as well! I love cookies. πŸ™‚


    December 16, 2011 at 6:29 am

    • How sweet that you all get to be together for the holidays! Hope you have a wonderful time. πŸ™‚


      December 16, 2011 at 6:47 am

  2. I love this! We have trouble nailing any one holiday “thing” down as tradition since each of our Christmases tend to go differently (and this year, we may be on a last-minute flight to the States! shhhh), but there is one thing that our little family has done every year that I adore. It started our first year of marriage when we were dirt poor and had a $25 budget for gifts. We made up for the scarcity by getting super creative with *how* we gave the gifts. I wrote silly poems to go with mine, and Dan engineered crazy gift boxes to go with his. Ever since, we’ve done something unique and fun to make the gifts more than just things, and I hope despite all our crazy lack of stability, this will be what our girls remember about Christmas.


    December 16, 2011 at 7:51 pm

  3. I love this πŸ™‚ We’re still trying to figure out what having holidays together as a family looks like, particularly given that I’m UU (family’s Catholic) and he’s non-affiliated (family’s vaguely Protestant). The one thing that seems to stick every year, at least, is baking lots and lots of cookies; I’m hoping to turn that into an annual cookie swap.

    Oh, and we watch Love, Actually, because I am such a sucker for that movie.

    Also, I really love the amount of thought you’re putting into the gifts. It’s really heartwarming, and I hope that this bit –

    This is my way of sending a message into the future, to let those future versions of my kids know that, whatever happens, I will be there for them, tuned in and engaged. I can’t be an A+ parent, but I will get my E for effort!

    – comes to pass.


    December 17, 2011 at 6:33 am

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