Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Forum: Avoiding a Mega-Commercial Christmas

(Blaine and cousins, Christmas 2008)

So here's my big dilemma. And it gets bigger as my children get older...

I want my children to love Christmas. I want them to feel the spirit of it, dance to its music, thrill at its smells and lights, and delight in its magic. (Too dramatic? I am passionate about the feeling of Christmas!) But I also want them to really get Christmas. For our family, it is deeply religious and spiritual, and I want my children to appreciate what we believe to be the real purpose of Christmas--to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. But even if you don't share those beliefs, I think this question still applies. Because, regardless of orthodoxy, wouldn't you agree that Christmas should be more about thinking of others than thinking of ourselves? (But dang if that isn't tough!)


How do I help my children appreciate all the elements of Christmas without them getting swept up in the mega-consumerism and selfishness that poisons it?

Note: I am not anti-Santa. We do the presents and all the (religious and non-religious) traditions. It's just that I think it has become so over-the-top, and I worry about the holiday losing its purity with my children.

Let me share one answer that comes from Brooke of Inchmark. It's called 'The Week of Being Still,' and you can read about it here. I love this, but how do we maintain that feeling in our homes once we're in the midst of the hustle and bustle?

What do you think?

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Forever You said...

Hi Anne
I think what you can do with kids is the tradition of giving something (like theirs unwanted toys in good shape ) to the needy children . also just in general help others more especially during this time. And of course talk about and tell that there are so many people in need.. I think they will understand . And if they know Jesus and what have he done for people on this earth as they get older they will relate to this fact even more. But it has to be spoken to them every time..
Have a great Christmass!

Jonesy said...

There are so many ways to tone down the commercialism of Christmas, if not avoid it altogether.
In my sister's family, they are all only allowed 3 gifts, since that's all Jesus got! Works great, especially if you have a big family like theirs. (7 kiddos!)
As for my family, we decided to do everything really BIG at Christmas--making tons of candy and cookies, delivering treats, looking at lights, decorating to the hilt, filling the house with music and the scents of evergreen and cider, doing advents, watching Christmas movies, Christmas stories, Christmas parties, and singing carols every night! It's all big, EXCEPT for the gifts. We've gone to handmade only this year, and everyone will make ONE thing for each other. I'm THRILLED with how it's really bringing the Christmas spirit into our home, even more than all the other "BIG" things we're doing. I've seen my girls just as excited to MAKE gifts for their sisters as I've ever seen them opening a present of their own. We've reserved "big" store-bought gifts and go crazy on their birthdays in order to maintain reverence for the birth of the Savior on His day.
It's the traditions that will make memories for ourselves and our children, not the stuff we buy them. Do you remember what you got for Christmas 5 years ago? I don't.

Tanya Leigh said...

I LOVE these suggestions! A couple of really simple things I have used:

1) Rather than the traditional "What do you want for Christmas?" question, I always ask my kids, "What do you want to make 'so-and-so' for Christmas?"

2) At the stores, the constant, "I want this" as we rolled down the aisles really wore on me. I suggested a simple, "Look at this!" ... MUCH nicer on the ears ;)

Rasmussen Family said...

We always buy presents for another family that is in need. This helps the kids realize that the season is for giving. We always did it growing up and it's the part we look forward to the most even as adults with our own families! It's a great tradition to start and to pass on!

Joan said...

We try to emphasize that Christmas is Jesus' birthday and because he is the most important person who ever lived his birthday is the biggest birthday celebration ever! It sounds trite and a bit casual but it simplifies things for my boys and helps them understand.
I find it difficult to mesh the two concepts of Christmas together: how does Santa fit in with the birth of Jesus? So, again...we just focus on how it is all in an effort to make the Savior's birthday party super special and magical. Santa just happens to be the one who delivers presents to us as a part of the birthday celebration.
Gosh, this sounds trivial and lame...but really it's just a fine line with children.
It has worked for us, anyway :) Hope some of you find these thoughts helpful.
MERRY CHRISTMAS, Bloom readers!

Abbie said...

Not sure about this one. I think some commercialism is okay, but putting big emphasis on the birth of Christ.

Also, part of me kind of thinks no matter how much we push "be grateful! remember Christ's birth! the reason for the season!" our kids won't actually get it until they get Christ and his life (receive a testimony). So, it's more important that we share what we know about him during the year instead of making them feel guilty for being too excited about presents and Santa (speaking from my your:). So, as long as we're trying, right?

Also, I was showing santa pictures to my son and realized this is the first time I openly lied to him for a long time. "Yes, his reindeer do fly." Weird feeling.

I like your idea, Joan. Very good!

ramble ramble ramble.

Valerie said...

My ideas are so similar to the above posts.
I do find that doing any activity together brings us closer around the holidays (making treats for others and decorating stockings) I usually have Christmas music playing soflty in the background and it sets a nice spirit in the home. Another thing we have done is taken a picture of Christ, added some ribbon, and have made it an ornament. It hangs in the middle of our Christmas tree with all the other ornaments reminding us what Christmas is about.
I also found a wonderful book that I think ties in Santa to Christ really well (Joan I bet you would like it :) It is called "I believe in Santa Clause" by Diane G. Adamson. It tells how Santa's hair is white, comes in the night, brings gifts, wants us to be good, then switches to how Christ's hair is white (older version), how he was born in the night, how he wants us to be good. Any way I LOVE it and its a tradition for us to read. Check it out.
I feel homemade gifts can also be great, however I get somewhat intimidated by homemade gifts since I feel I may not make it look as good as I envisioned. But you can give other thoughtful Christ like gifts.
One year to my family we gave the book I mentioned above, and then an ornament of Santa clause kneeling to the baby Christ in a manger along with some homemade movies we put together on a DVD for everyone.
I hope these ideas help :)