We enjoyed our first Christmas as a family of three this year! Very special… Despite everything being quite overwhelming, by and large Cheeky Monkey took it in his stride. Being grandchild number one on my side of the family, he was of course spoilt rotten by everyone – thanks so much! He was super excited about his new high chair at granny’s house, putting on quite a show at meal times! And he charmed everyone who visited us/ we visited while we were away!
Nature or nurture… Who knows, but what we do know is he has a very well established sense of self-worth – he automatically thinks everyone will love him – and he’s generally quite an outgoing little thing! Careful girls… He’s a little charmer! But I digress…
Preparing for Cheeky Monkey’s first Christmas
I did a lot of reading and thinking in terms of what we would and wouldn’t do around Christmas in our family. As is so often the case, we started with the concept of Santa. We believe that Christmas day is in fact a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus and not simply an opportunity to get together with family & friends and lavish presents on each other. We talked to many people about how they tackled the ‘Santa’ thing and got a wide range of perspectives from – just let them have fun believing in Santa right through to flat-out disbelief from the word go. The concept that sat best with hubby and I was teaching Cheeky Monkey that ‘Santa’ isn’t real, but rather is a game people play at Christmas time. And that part of the game is that you don’t talk about the fact that ‘Santa’ is a game. We decided that there would be one smallish present from ‘Santa’ in his Christmas sack each year so that he could easily and honestly answer the question, ‘what did you get from Santa?’ which will inevitably arise! As for the ‘have you been good so Santa will bring you presents?’ question we haven’t yet decided – though the best response suggested in discussion of a friends Facebook status update was something along the lines of:
‘Aren’t we lucky that Jesus didn’t die for us because our ‘good behaviour’ made us worthy of his grace!’
I’m guessing that’s likely to be a bit beyond a 20 month old Cheeky Monkey next Christmas though!
I loved the impetus Cheeky Monkey’s first Christmas gave me to do some research around Christmas traditions and i particularly liked Femina’s – a blog i follow – description of the theology behind gift giving! I’ve read many amazing perspectives on gift giving and I very much like the idea of choosing a charity cause to give to at Christmas time and placing an envelope on the tree with details of the gift given – this could be considered Jesus’ birthday present. It wouldn’t negate purchasing gifts for each other, but would serve to refocus celebrations on the birth of Jesus. Some other great ideas I came across were to give children only three gifts each – the number of gifts given to Jesus by the magi when He was born. I like this one as it would facilitate the telling of the birth of Jesus on Christmas day! A friend of mine blogged about taking the focus off the presents this year by placing their nativity scene and bible/ Christmas story books under the tree instead. Each night they read the Christmas story from one of the books and discussed it with their girls. It was also very sweet that the girls got to select a Christmas decoration to put on the tree after story time each night! I would definitely like to incorporate the idea into our own family traditions. Some of these we started this year, others we will add in years to come as I came across them a bit too late in the game.
One suggestion that came across I thought was sheer brilliance! Balloons filling the lounge room on Christmas morning (sorry I can’t for the life of me remember where I read it)! I read it as a money-saving means of making Christmas really exciting for kids without needing to blow the budget on lavish presents – sometimes the simplest things bring the most long-lasting enjoyment! I loved the idea as it was fun, and also for the fact that balloons are a birthday party staple – so are a great way to celebrate Jesus’ birthday too! We didn’t quite fill the lounge room with balloons as it really wasn’t necessary for 9 month old Cheeky Monkey… But we did blow up a whole heap of balloons and they were the first thing we played with on Christmas morning before church. We didn’t open presents until we returned from church and had morning tea together as a family in the lounge… Another tradition I like as it shows that Jesus is the most important part of Christmas day and the giving of gifts to one another is lower down the list of priorities!
What are your thoughts around Christmas with kids? Do you have any good suggestions to share?