Cutting the Commercialism of Christmas

Reflecting on Christmas traditions with a few of my sisters

Having Christmas on Sunday in 2016 may, at first, have seemed inconvenient. I understand. We all want to enjoy our family and open gifts and stay at home on the biggest holiday of the year. Upon thinking about it longer, what is good about having Christmas on Sunday? Well, most of all, we dressed up and went to church together. The focus was on worshiping the Savior of the world, not on the gifts. Many of my siblings are exemplary in teaching their kids the real meaning of Christmas. Here are just three examples:

Sister #4, who has 6 kids from ages 18 to 8 already has her kids draw names. Each child gives to 2 siblings and the dollar range is between $15 and $20 per gift. The parents’ gifts were mostly repairs/replacements for the trampoline, basketball hoop, and such this year, which as we all know can really add up.

Sister-in-law #2, who has 6 kids from ages 10 to 6 months has seen an increase in sibling gift giving pleasure. They have tried to emphasize the giving part of the Christmas, by using teaching moments in November to talk about buying a gift for a sibling instead of buying something for themselves. As a result, their kids used their hard earned money on each other and the added awareness and sacrifice translated into excitement for each giver. As mom and dad, my Sister-in-law and brother give three gifts. One for the Heart, one fort the mind, and one for the body. This year that meant a Musical instrument ($5 – $20) — such as a harmonica, melodica, piano horn, xylophone; a book, and a scooter. “Santa” only fills stockings with treats, an orange, and small things. They have told their kids for years that “Santa uses the money that parents give them. That is why some kids get more than others.” Finally, this great family helps remind their children about the meaning of Christmas by focusing on service throughout the month. This year they discussed the daily invitation in #LIGHTtheWORLD during their morning scripture study.

Sister #5, who has 9 kids from ages 17 to 4, only gives her kids pajamas – which they open on Christmas eve and then only the sibling gifts are given on Christmas day. So each kid gets 8 presents on Christmas morning. Santa only gives things in the stocking. She used to give three gifts. One for each: fun, practical and spiritual, but has discontinued that. This year she did give a “name sake book” to each child. She and her husband discussed Christmas budgeting years ago: $20 per child for 3 gifts. But, since they have discontinued this, there has been no change in how much they enjoy Christmas morning. These changes have all been discussed and tested. The result is that Christmas morning is still exciting. Throughout the month she will often ask one of her kids, “How are you liking your Christmas?” This is to teach that Christmas is all month long as they learn about traditions around the world, sing, perform, and give to others. Christmas expectations are not met or failed between 8 and 10 a.m. on Christmas morning. Also, for their family giving happens all year long. The parents may give a trampoline in September (more weather appropriate for Illinois) and they replace the kids socks and clothes when they need to. She wants her kids to know that “We love you and take care of you year round.”

In conclusion, it is easy to get Christmas mixed up, but we shouldn’t feel bound by tradition or what the Jones’s do. Remember how sad Curt was when he found out that Santa was really Duncan? Or should I say me. I did most of the decision making and “shopping” to relieve Duncan’s stress. (THANK YOU Amazon.) But he still feels like the kids got too much. He doesn’t like clutter and we don’t like worldliness in general. Christmas has a lot of both. We can start to de-emphasize Santa. I am so thankful for a fresh start. No doubt about it: 2017 will be full of worshipping the Savior all year long.#LIGHTtheWORLD