Friday, December 2, 2011
We always make sure Christ is the center of our Christmas holiday. Our children know this holiday is about His birth. Because Jesus received three gifts at his birth, we are giving each of our children three presents. We don't always do it this way, but this year, we decided to.
GIFTS: We have a very slim Christmas budget. We save all year long with a holiday savings account at our bank. Each month, they automatically take out our designated amount and transfer it into our holiday savings account. Those funds are automatically deposited into our checking on Nov 1st. That's what we have to buy gifts. We must divide that money up amongst those on our gift list. Most of it goes to our own children, but we spend a little on our parents, my sister-in-law, my husband's grandparents, and something for the less-fortunate families that our church is supporting. My brother has made a request that we not exchange gifts between each other, as we both just feel it's unnecessary and that the holiday is about Christ and not gifts. Pastor James and I usually get something for each other, but very small. I honestly do most of my Christmas shopping online. I absolutely LOVE Vision Forum (www.visionforum.com) for really boyish gifts for my boys, and books for others. I also use Amazon for lots of things. Other than that, Target had most everything else, and I visited one other specialty store (which I cannot mention in case my children read this).
As for our children's gifts, we have a set amount we plan to stay within when buying them all gifts, however, it is not our goal that we spend exactly the same amount on each child. Older children's gifts just, by nature, usually cost a little more. Our little ones don't need as much, so as long as they each can count the same amount of presents for each child under the tree, they don't really know how much everything was and who we spent more or less on.
DOES SANTA COME TO YOUR HOUSE? Santa does come to our house. However, we have told our children the true story about Santa and his origin. We explained that Saint Nicholas was a real man, and that he loved God. He gave gifts in secret to bless those who were less-fortunate. He didn't want the credit for it. He gave out of his love for Christ. After he died, people chose to continue blessing each other in secret in the spirit of Saint Nicholas. Saint Nicholas is called many different names in different countries, but here in America, we call him Santa Claus. So they know we pretend to be Santa, but that we give in a spirit of generosity just like Saint Nicholas. We have two Christian-based books that explain the reality of Santa that we read to our children every year. Is Santa real? He was, absolutely! So one of the three gifts we bought for our children will be our Santa present - usually the most special one.
OTHER CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS: We have a few other Christmas traditions in the Seiler home - some have been around for a while, and some are still evolving. We will watch The Nativity Story at some point this season. We go to James's grandparents for Christmas Eve, and we will get together with that family again this year. We love to drive around and look at Christmas lights on Christmas Eve, and then drink hot chocolate when we get home. We will read the Gospel accounts of Jesus' birth as well. After the children have gone to sleep Christmas Eve night, we stuff the children's stockings and lay them at the foot of each child's bed for them to find as soon as they awake. Christmas morning, Pastor James's parents and sister, Holly, usually come over and we open presents together as a family. We love to make homemade cinnamon rolls with coffee Christmas morning. Traditions are so important for children. They give them a sense of stability and security, and create fabulous memories!
As much as I would LOVE to bake and do other homemade things this season, I must realistically evaluate my life at this time, and I will not be able to do all I'd like this year. There will be future years. However, my load this year is just too large (one I'm trying currently to reduce).
HOLIDAY BLUES: For many of you, the holidays are a difficult time for one reason or another. I wish I had a great amount of advice for you that would take it all away. However, I will be navigating through this a bit for the first time myself. December 8 marks the one year anniversary we lost our 6th child, Matthew. I'm already starting to feel a little blue as I remember what was happening in our lives last year at this time. I have compassion for all of you who also remember loved ones you really miss this time of year. My thoughts are definitely with you all, but we will make it through. I look forward to being reunited with baby Matthew in Heaven someday!
MY FINAL THOUGHTS: I encourage you all to not get caught up in the hustle-and-bustle that many of us associate with Christmas. To me, this time is about Jesus and family. It's a time set apart from the rest of the year, and should be a bit different. It's a very cozy time for friends and family, for generosity, sharing stories with our children, and counting our blessings. I refuse to let it be stressful. That would rob me of the joy of this season. I enjoy the break from the normal routine, and the special memories created with those I love. Merry Christmas to you all! May Christ be the center of your homes this very special holiday season!