Holiday Traditions - Revisited

Posted by  | Thursday, December 25, 2008  at 12:00 PM  
Being that its Christmas, I thought I'd direct you back to our week on holiday traditions. We discussed our families' views on many of the major holidays, whether secular or religious. This post was written by Hollie's friend, Shannon and posted back in August of this year. If you've got a little extra time - check out the holiday traditions of Leah, Krista, Stacey, Hollie and Christina. I'm certain we'll revisit this one as Stacey is the only one of us who has children over the age of two. Our traditions are changing yearly!

Hi! This is Shannon Hazleton. Hollie asked me to share about our unique holiday traditions, and I am so excited to do so. Several months before Jeff and I were married we each felt the Lord leading us to do things differently, especially during the biggest celebration of the year - Christmas! Now, before I give you a peek at what holidays look like at our house, let me say this is a description of what God put on our hearts to do - not a prescription for everyone else to take. By all means, we don't think we're right and everyone else is wrong! :)

The Big Decision and Why
Jeff and I do not participate in gift-giving at Christmas. Not with each other, our kids, our family, or anyone else. I know this is a bit extreme, but I'll unpack it for you a bit as we go.

We both grew up celebrating Christmas with tons of presents. In fact, I can remember not being able to sleep the night before because I was so excited about all the gifts I was going to open the next morning. In my head, I knew the real reason for Christmas was the birth of Christ, and what that meant for our eternal salvation, but let's get real here. On Christmas morning, that was the last thing on my mind. We did not want our children to grow up with the same struggle of heart.

We also want to help our children have a worldview that is not self-focused, and this is one way to teach that principle.

How Did Our Family React?
Well, I think our parents and siblings didn't quite know what to think, or how to respond, but they were so respectful in trying to do things our way. I remember the first year, Jeff's dad and stepmom gave to a charity in our name. Since we've had children, it's been different, because it's so hard to resist giving presents to your grandchildren and nieces. So they've all gone back to giving presents to us. We usually try to make sure this happens before Christmas, so we can still keep our focus what we believe God wants it to be. And the idea is not to get legalistic - if our daughter's Sunday School teacher gives her a Christmas present, we're not going to make her give it back. :) I think we'll just have to take each year as it comes and keep our hearts and ears open to God's guidance.

What DO we do?
We HAVE incorporated some really nice traditions at Christmas. My mom used to leave a new book outside the bedroom door for my sister and me every year, and I've carried that tradition over to our kids as well. We also ALWAYS have cinnamon rolls, and we write a letter to each other every year and put it in our stocking. On Christmas morning, we wake up, help the girls read their new books, eat cinnamon rolls, get down our stockings and read our Christmas letters, and read the Christmas story and sing some songs. And Jeff's mom usually comes over for Christmas dinner; last year our neighbor ate with us too. We do put up a Christmas tree and I set up our nativity under the tree. Maggie loves playing with Baby Jesus, and Baby Jesus' Mommy and Daddy! :)

Any Regrets?
Let me tell you, since we've started doing this, I have the most stress-free holidays ever! I can't tell you what a relief it is not to feel the time burden and financial burden of remembering to get everyone you know a Christmas present! I LOVE gift-giving; it's one of my favorite things to do. But when you live on an extremely tight budget, and you can't give all that you want to everyone you want, it is so stressful. Now, when everyone is getting cranky during the holiday season, and wading through stressed out crowds of people, getting those last few gifts, and marking off their list - I can stay at home and enjoy our family time. No regrets at all.

Our Gift-Giving Alternatives
- We make birthdays a big deal
- We have a Family Spending Spree at Thanksgiving
It's not our goal to deprive ourselves or our kids, and we DO love giving gifts, so we started a NEW tradition at Thanksgiving every year, and it is so much fun. We have a family spending spree the day after Thanksgiving!! We spend the holiday with my aunts and uncles and cousins in Shreveport, Louisiana, and they live near some great shopping, so the day after thanksgiving, we take the money we've budgeted and go out to buy a few things for each other. It's so exciting.

Giving Beyond Ourselves
Often, when we do want to give gifts to our family and friends - at Thanksgiving or whenever - we have made it a point to give a gift that benefits others in the world. For instance, last year, we chose gifts from Gospel For Asia, which uses money we spend to help native missionaries an families overseas who are in need of the most basic necessities. Check out their site.

What About You?
So that's our holidays in a nutshell - thanks for letting me share. What do you think? What unique changes have you made in your holiday traditions throughout the year? Whatever you do, I pray you are blessed!

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