We’ve been in a bit of an internal conflict about how to celebrate Christmas in our family. Without getting on our soapbox too much, both Mike and I really wish the church would just separate Christ’s birth from December 25th entirely. Why do we try so hard to get a bunch of people that have rejected Jesus as King to make December 25th about His birth? Why can’t we as a church just pick a different day to celebrate (maybe closer to when He was actually born?) and make it about HIM, not about us? Let the world have their winter festival. Heck, we’d even join in like we do around Halloween. We just wouldn’t try to pretend that when we’re opening gifts it’s about Christ’s birth and not about us. Okay, I’ll get off the soapbox now.
Since the church’s current push is “Jesus is the reason for the season” we thought separating the two in our family would be confusing to the kids when they are so young (maybe when they’re older). Instead we’re doing our best to try to teach Abe the beauty of Christ’s birth amidst all the Santas, elves, and reindeer. (Not to mention the times Abe gets asked if Santa is coming to visit his house. When I reply that we don’t do Santa Clause, Abe gets a pitying look, like “You poor child! Your parents have decided not to lie to you!”)
So, this year we are celebrating Advent in our home and counting down to Christmas with Abe. We have an advent wreath set up and have been using a devotional that my sister gave us (Thanks Jill!). The devotional includes Christmas ornaments that talk about the different names of Jesus and Abe LOVES to put them on the tree. Lighting the candles is fun too, but he actually prefers blowing them out more. We’re also “X”ing off the days on the calendar until Christmas comes. All of this is, of course, mixed in with lots of talk about Jesus’ birthday, angels, shepherds, and wise men. Sure, we’re doing gifts too. I just wish that didn’t coincide with Jesus’ birthday. It’s the only birthday around when other people get gifts instead of the guest of honor!
Speaking of gifts though, we’ve already had the pleasure opening some since grandparents have been coming to visit.
Over Thanksgiving, Grandpa Neal and Grandma Glenda came. Mom and I went shopping on Wednesday after they flew in. On Turkey Day, we had the pleasure of driving up to Stephenville to visit my Uncle Merwin and Aunt Eloise where they cooked a yummy dinner for us. My cousin Aaron and his wife Aley were there as well and a nice couple from their church also joined us. Great weather, great food, great company and fun times playing games – it was a great day! The Friday after we did a little shopping (not the 5am kind) and decorated so that on Saturday night we could have a Christmas dinner, devotions, and open gifts. Abe loved all of the gifts my parents got him. He took to the scooter right away (including the helmet, whew) and loved the train “piggy” bank as well. He got other gifts too, but those were the “headliners” if you will.
Grandma Mim came to town a couple weeks later. We did lots of shopping with her as well. Abe is now really getting into this gift opening thing (surprise, surprise) and needs a little more watching to make sure he doesn’t just open them all. I have also learned that we need to make sure there are gifts for more than just him under the tree so he understands that this isn’t all about him (like his birthday is). Abe’s headliners this time were the Tonka Mighty Dump, a guitar, and an UNO game. Today it was really cute: Abe kept saying he wanted to “put the truck away.” At first I thought he was saying he wanted to put the “tracks” away (as in train tracks), but when I walked out he had pulled out a roll of wrapping paper and was attempting to re-wrap his dump truck. I think he wanted to open it again! He kept saying “Open presents again.” I don’t think he really wanted more gifts, but just to open the same ones.
Overall, I am really glad to be spreading out the gift-giving some instead of Abe getting bombarded on Christmas Day. I just hope it isn’t over shadowing the beauty of God Almighty pouring out to the world His Son (God Himself) in the humblest of ways. I guess that’s when we as parents just concede that we are doing our best and pray that God will take care of his heart.