Sunday, December 02, 2007

Conflicted

My tree is out of the box. It's still not decorated, even though it's been there for 5 days now. The kids keep asking about it. "hm, later guys okay?". I'm just not into it. Virge sent me a link to her Pandora Christmas station and we've been listening to that a bit, which I like, and I've been listening to my Over the Rhine Christmas CD, which is good, but.....

What are we supposed to do? Modern traditions reek of commercialism and "Holiday Cheer". Even the Christian Bookstores are all about some money. Who wants a "Christian" plaque for Christmas? What does that mean? How many presents are my kids supposed to open for it to be a "good" Christmas? Because after the fourth or fifth one, a glaze washes over their eyes and they start asking for more. They're only five and seven (and two, but he hasn't cared yet-this year he'll be the one yanking other toys out of other children's hands) and yet I'm tired already of having the greedy conversation with them every year. Don't get me wrong, I've yet to not make a "Christmas Wish List" (thank you Service Merchandise catalogs for that lovely jargon) and I do love to give presents (and get presents, by the way- that greedy glaze has passed over my eyes just about every Christmas that I remember), but I'm just over it. Why DO we buy and buy and buy? I'm an affirmation junky and I love praise and adoration, even from my kids. And Christmas gift-giving is "all fair", i.e. "We've got to give so-and-so something, they always give us something", or "he got eight presents and I've only gotten seven!" Both of these thoughts have caused me to overspend a lot.

Today is the first Sunday in Advent. Today I will teach my four and five year old Sunday School class about the prophecies in the Old Testament. We will light the first candle in the Advent Wreath at church and at home and talk about the prophecies in the Old Testament and why they are important to our faith today. God has and will always keep His covenants with His people. Should there even be a balance between modern commercialized Christmas and Christ?

So here I am, on my soapbox. Guess what? I will buy presents this year. I will send Christmas Cards. I will wrap presents this year (I do love to wrap presents-there are no ends to my need for affirmation). I will decorate the tree, with Burl Ives playing and hot cocoa being sipped on by all (how's that for modern tradition). My confliction lies in the balance or the lack of balance: "Oh yeah, it's the celebration of Christ's birth, by the way."

18 comments:

Ginger said...

I'm totally with ya, sister!

Melissa said...

You pose some good questions. I think all the stuff we do at Christmas time is so wrapped up in tradition that we forget the real reason for Christmas. It's very easy to do. I don't have any advice for you, not that I think you are asking for any. I do hope that when and if you decide to go forth with holiday festivities you are feeling good about it. And if you don't I hope you enjoy Christmas anyway! Would it help if I sang to you? Fa la la la la, la la la la.....

The Heltons said...

Can I come and share in your joyous Christmas?! ;)

~Cari

Missy said...

I am sorry for your confliction.
I hope your Christmas cheer returns.
You should come to my house sometime. :)

Brenda said...

As Katherine's dad would say It's time to "buckle up buttercup"!

You have an empty tree - let's do school.
Let it be a kid's tree - "art class" "math class" "an advent tree"
- nature tree - go on a nature walk and collect items that would look great on the tree
- let the kids "squence the two glorious colors - red & green and make paper chains" - "or let the children choose" their own colors - God loves colors - just look at our world
- study "Christmas around the world" and make poinsettias from Mexico, Candle Crowns from Sweden, from Italy donkeys (love that donkey song)
- make "beaded" candy canes and tell the story of the shepherds, stars (glitter - fun to clean up :) for the wise men go on and on...
- donkeys out of old fashioned clothespins
- read about pioneers Christmas celebrations (Little House on the Praire)
- cinnamon ornaments http://www.mccormick.com/recipedetail.cfm?id=1264

Do an art project every couple of days and before you know it your tree will be decorated and the boys will love it.

Check out these website for some cool ideas...

http://www.santas.net/aroundtheworld.htm

http://www.santaclaus.com/christmas-around-the-world.php

http://www.education-world.com/a_lesson/lesson041.shtml

or search "Christmas around the world" and check out lots of ideas -

Relax - enjoy your family - and focus on the "JOY" - love you a lot - mom

Texas Aggie in Florida said...

I totally get what you're saying. I was talking to our pastor's wife about the same thing the other day and she she had an idea from a friend. They get 3 gifts: a want, a need, and a spiritually related gift. I thought that was a great idea! Hmmmm, maybe next year since everything is already bought! I don't buy for extended family even though they get us gifts. I have that excuse that "I'm poor". I give framed pictures of my girls to the grandparents along with maybe a scrapbook or something made with their handprints like a cookie jar or something. And that's it! Simple. But I still HATE the whole mess!

This year I had the idea to let the girls make their own art book for the grandparents. I have several projects lined up and I'm going to go through their art stash from school and church and pick out somethings and make it all into a big book and that will be the present to Granny, Nanny, and Mimi from the girls. Genius huh?!!!

Abbey said...

I think your problem is you don't believe in Santa Claus. That's what I tell my boys too. None of them are believers either. And every year when they don't get what they want, I say, "See? You should have believed and maybe you would have gotten that motorcycle or that Ipod."

Rachel Garcia said...

im still laughing so hard at Abbey's comments.. that i can't breathe...okay better now.

i am right there with you on the whole post. I like the 3 gift idea.. we also bake a cake and sing happy bday to Jesus (you could be a real spoiler if you went by the real birthday of Jesus.. but we'll play along with Dec 25th.)

I think if you are talking about Christ and doing the O.T advent "stuff" sorry couldnt' think of a better word..then you are balanced..

Dollar General said...

Merry Christmas Kim!

Marsha said...

Family Life Today is doing a GREAT series this week about Christmas traditions, where they come from, etc. It's from a new book that's just come out...which I can't seem to remember the title. Just go to Family Life's website and you can listen to it online and also see the title of the book.

Love Momma Brenda's intervention here! Way to go Brenda!

Laura Leigh said...

I really struggled with this a lot last year. I think the balance lies somewhere in being "in the world, but not of the world." We need to remember that we're free to enjoy the traditions. Not just that, but our participation in the traditions (gift-giving, parades, cookie swaps, etc.) connects us with an unbelieving world; then, if we somehow can allow the greater joy we derive from the true meaning of Christmas to penetrate, we have a witness to the world we'll never have if we allow the over-commercialism to turn us into grump butts. It's problematic with the kids, but gives great opportunity for good family memories -- and equally great opportunities to point them to the gospel. Just a few of my thoughts (from one who had many moments of "grump butt" last year).

Kim said...

Scott and I have had this exact conversation for a couple of years now. We have been so disgusted by the gimmes and the gotta-haves that we felt like enough was enough. We decided that this year the boys are getting a couple of small gifts. The grandparents are each getting something small and sentimental. Everyone else will just have to deal with it. We are not spending money that we don't have just to satisfy some giant fairness scale. All of the money that we are NOT spending on gifts is going towards a family trip. Well, I guess I feel strongly about this. Who knew?!

Kim P

Paige M said...

I was hoping you'd get me a Christian plaque for Christmas, darn..........

Paige M said...

I love the "grump butt" nickname! I am such a grump butt about so many things! But, I agree with Laura. We can't let the secular traditions, that sometimes wear us down, drain us of the true Joy of Christmas. Oh.....come on, let's make some of those crafts your mom suggested! What time shall I come over????????

Missy said...

I am going to get Paige a Ghost Busterts Plaque!

JBL said...

cheer up charlie brown...i'll tell you what christmas is all about...

Cheryl said...

Hey Sweetie!
Girl Talk is a website written by Carolyn Mahaney, her daughters, and her daughter-in-law. Since November 27 they've been on the topic of worldliness, the holidays, and maintaining your joy.
http://girltalk.blogs.com/
Grab a tall peppermint mocha with whipped cream and check it out!

Brenda said...

Yummy!!