Monday, December 7, 2009

Cards are finished

Our Christmas cards are finished and in the mail. We're ahead of the game this year, largely due to ordering our cards from an online site. They are photo cards, so no pics to print and cut out. They are already printed, so no signing. And I make lables for the envelopes, so no writing anything out. It feels a little impersonal, but I hate hand addressing envelopes. So long as there are no unusual charges on our credit card, I'll probably use this service again.

We are finished shopping for the kids. Still need to call my middle sister. Youngest sister mentioned something about only buying for the kids this year. I should check into that before I go buying them presents. I'm fine with that.

So we're heading into the part of Christmas that has always been a bit of a letdown for me. I love the preparation and the getting ready. And I'm good with the settling in and enjoying it all. But it's the few days before, and the day of that kind of leave me feeling empty. I grew up with Santa as the point of Christmas. Santa and the whole family celebration. So a fat guy and food were the focus. And it always felt like a bit of a letdown by the afternoon of Christmas day.

I think some parts of Europe are on to something. They do the gift thing on the 6th of December, then have other feast days through the month and then Christmas day is about Jesus. Then there are 12 more celebration days before it's all over. Here we have a prolonged season for the sole purpose of more shopping. It's all backwards and inside out. We celebrate for the sake of stuff instead of celbrating for the sake of celebrating.

We're working to make it different for our kids, but it's a process. We don't do Santa at all. Neither of us feels right about it, and we both feel like it's a lie to lead the kids on like that (for us... I cannot tell you how many people get their knickers in a knot over the "L" word, like by not doing Santa we're condemning them to hell for telling their kids that he is real). It's a personal decision that works for our family. But the rest is a process. The re-learning how to celebrate Jesus, without totally abandoning the family and food and fun that really is a part of the season as well.

I've toyed with the idea of serving dinner on Christmas day to the needy. There's a restaurant in town that does this. I'd wait until the kids are older, mind you. But I like the idea. We don't go to anyone's house for dinner on Christmas day, so we wouldn't be missing out on that at all. For now we give to local food banks. Things like peanut butter alternatives, for families of kids with peanut allergies who can't afford to buy it (it's pricey). And this year we bought an education package through Ten Thousand Villages and got an ornament for our tree to commemorate it. We want the kids to know that doing for others is important all the time, and contrasting it against the materialism of Christmas brings it into sharper focus, it seems. It;s also the time when need is felt most accutely as well.

Hopefully we're doing right by them. I hope that Christmas for our kids is about celebrating Jesus and what He's done for us. It seems strange to link Christmas and Easter, but Christmas makes no sense unless we look at the whole picture and the reason *why* it matters that Jesus was ever born at all.

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