Feliz Navidad Without All the Stuff
Christmas ornaments. Homes decorated with lights of all colors. Mistletoe hanging from a door way. Favorite carols playing on the radio. Handmade family stockings hung up for all to see. *Sigh*
Without a doubt, Christmas is my favorite holiday of the year. Every year, depending on the excitement of the children, we'd drag out box after box of decorations, sometimes as early as Thanksgiving. There would inevitably be some arguing over whose turn it was that year to put the angel on the tree (that is until 2 years ago when the angel broke and we bought a star…ugh) or who gets to put baby Jesus in the manger scene.
But one thing that has been lacking in our Christmas celebrations for several years now is the emphasis on the kids putting together a mile-long list of their "must have" toys. They do still make a small list, but nothing like most kids their ages would do.
In 2001, we had, and I almost hate to admit it, an obscene Christmas. That year, our family spent September through early December together in Albuquerque, NM. While in New Mexico, I gathered up a little collection of gifts for our 2 girls…things that their Pilot Daddy could bring home when he drove back to Georgia. But when I got back to Georgia, I had forgotten how MUCH I'd bought the girls and kept on buying…and buying…and even had the Pilot buy MORE to bring home.
The result was a Christmas morning that was totally overwhelming. Too many gifts. Too many toys. Too much stuff. At that point, I realized we needed to make a change. Christmas is not about spending tons of money on toys for the children, toys that they often had little to no interest in after ripping off the wrapping paper…it's about Jesus coming to earth as our Savior.
The next year at a MOPS meeting, one of our mentor moms shared that their family only gave 3 gifts to the children. Her rationale was that if 3 gifts from the Magi was good enough for Jesus, it was good enough for her children. From the moment I heard that idea, I loved it!
Having a 3 gift limit has forced our children to really decide what they REALLY want for Christmas, but this year, things are different. Without the constant bombardment of American television commercials, newspaper sale flyers, signs in stores and even billboards along the roads, we're just not hearing the "Mommy, I want…" chatter from our children. And as a mom, I don't feel the artificial need to spend money buying up stuff to make sure our Christmas morning is filled with unwrapping tons of gifts.
It was also hard on the grandparents when we asked them to honor our requests to not buy tons of stuff for the children. We know how much they enjoy getting little treasures for the grandchildren, but sometimes it can get out of hand. While we are so grateful for having parents who love to shower our children with gifts, we struggle with what to do with all the toys after they became "old news" and cluttered their rooms.
We've come a LONG way in 10 years. Living with less and being in a totally different culture, one where my children have seen how happy other children are with FAR less than they've ever had, we have all gained a new perspective on the role of possessions and how they affects us. We've never "done" Santa, so we don't have to deal with trying to come up with a reason why "Santa" didn't bring them as much this year. But we're seeing that our kids realize that stuff doesn't bring happiness. At best, it gives them something to occupy their time when we're not doing something else.
Do piles of gifts demonstrate love? We're realizing that the answer to this question is a resounding, "NO!" Enjoying time spent with those we love most and sharing experiences does demonstrate love to us.
The gifts come and go. It has really saddened me to read on Facebook about so many friends lining up to make huge shopping trips to buy tons of stuff over the Thanksgiving holidays. From an outsider's perspective, it seems like the massive push to buy stuff is the focus of Christmas, not enjoying family and celebrating the true meaning of Christmas.
In spite of how I may be coming across, we are giving gifts this Christmas, but a LOT more thought went into them this year than ever before. Craft items. Electronics that are too expensive to buy locally. American quality clothing. Crocs. Some simple toys for the youngest ones. No long lists. No overstuffed stockings. Not a lot of stuff to fill the space under our humble Christmas tree.
Christmas 2011 = Faith + Family + Contentment – Stuff
That's our new equation for celebrating the most wonderful time of the year!
What about you? Has your view of "stuff" and Christmas changed in recent years? How are you combating the artificial desire to buy stuff?
Check out what these other traveling families have to say about Christmas:
Family Trek: What's For Christmas? Dear Santa, do we really need more stuff? http://www.familytrek.org/whats-for-christmas/
The Nomadic Family- Poverty for Christmas: http://www.thenomadicfamily.com/2011/11/poverty-for-christmas.html
New Life on the Road – Dear Mr Santa Claus Whats For Christmas: http://www.newlifeontheroad.com/dear-mr-santa-claus-whats-for-christmas
With 2 Kids In Tow, It's Backpacking We Go: Dear Santa, For This Christmas We Wish…: http://with2kidsintow.blogspot.com/2011/11/dear-santa-for-this-christmas-we-wish.html
Living Outside of the Box – The Best Christmas Presents: http://livingoutsideofthebox.com/2011/12/01/the-best-christmas-presents/
Discover Share Inspire – Christmas is Coming – What Do We Give on the Road? http://www.discovershareinspire.com/2011/12/christmas-is-coming%e2%80%a6-what-do-we-give-on-the-road/
Bohemian Travelers- Gift giving while living a simpler life: http://www.bohemiantravelers.com/2011/11/gift-giving-while-living-simpler-life.html
Presence vs Presents – Christmas Time for Travelling Families: http://www.littleaussietravellers.com.au/2011/presence-vs-presents-christmas-time-for-travelling-families.html
Livin On The Road's kids:
A minor diversion – Reinventing Christmas: http://minordiversion.com/2011/11/reinventing-christmas/
Carried on the Wind – Christmas Giving: http://www.carriedonthewind.com/2011/12/christmas-giving.html
A King's Life: Forget the Gifts, Give an Experience this Christmas: http://www.akingslife.com/2011/12/forget-the-gifts-give-an-experience-this-christmas
Pearce On Earth: A Different Kind of Christmas: http://pearceonearth.com/a-different-kind-of-christmas
Wheel Educations Daughter: http://mysparkie.webs.com/apps/blog/entries/show/10683242-what-christmas-means-to-me