Christmas is a Craft

I’ve talked a lot in past years about simplifying Christmas and focasing on the true meaning and all that. I truly believe it, as a family we’ve done different things and over the years I have scaled back, somewhat. I have a confession though I love to spoil my kids at Christmas time. We dont buy them toys, or clothes, unless needed, at other times of the year, and I like to shower them with gifts once a year. I enjoy it so much.

"Little Man's" afghan, he wanted dark red.

“Little Man’s” afghan, he wanted dark red.


this year, Christmas is going to have to be a craft. I’m cutting back like I never have before. Finances aren’t shaking out like we would like or had planned on for various reasons that I don’t want to go into right now, and things are a bit…tight. I’m a crafty girl, I totally got this. Last month I mentioned in passing I was thinking of crocheting all the big kids a blanket, and what colors would they like, if that’s what I did. I was shocked at the responce. You would think I had given them the moon!  Since then I’ve been asked several times if I would PLEASE make blankets. So here I am, in August rushing to finish five afghans before December. I think I’m as excited as they are!

Beating the Bah Humbug



I have a hard time with Christmas, I haven’t kept that a secret, I am a full on scrooge.  I usually go through the motions on Christmas, and I do enjoy parts of it, with a smile on my face while inside I am just annoyed with the whole thing!  This year I have spent time pondering on my rotten attitude.  Why do I dislike this season so much when so many other people love and enjoy this time of year?  I have come to the conclusion that there are two main issues I have with the Christmas season, the first being; all the time, money and hassle, the second;  gluttony.  I also came to the conclusion that if I ever wanted to enjoy this season I needed a major attitude adjustment.

Christmas does require a lot of work, time and money.  I do have some control over this.  I can’t control the amounts of parties and programs that I will be expected to attend, most of the time.  I can’t control all the 1$ and 5$ gifts that me and my children are asked to bring to these functions, I honestly feel that white elephant gift exchanges or even the small gift exchanges are are waste of money.  I know white elephant gift exchanges are fun, but I really don’t like to bring other peoples junk home and there are other ways to have fun.  Also doing a small gift exchange, where everyone bring a 1$ gift (especially in a childrens groups) can make people feel uncomfortable and hurt.  Recently two of my daughters participated in one, one of my girls didn’t get her gift picked up and she was so hurt that no one wanted what she had brought.  Why do we set people, especially children, up for this kind of hurt all for the sake of getting a gift?  There are other ways to have fun, and I think those girls would have been more enriched had they done a service project for Christmas and give to those in need, instead of a gift exchange of items that no one really needed and some people didn’t even want.  (O.K. getting off that soap box). 


Just because there is some small aspect of a Christmas gathering I don’t like doesn’t mean I need to ban parties all together or just endure the whole thing.  I will never change this idea that we have to be giving and getting junk gifts to have a good time, but I can focus on the other activities that are good and enriching.  Being with the people we love, listening to them, loving them, rejoicing in their triumph and sorrowing in the hard times.  That is truly gift giving, that is what matters, what lasts and what heals hearts.  In my experience there is usually some kind of service going on, usually a box in the corner to deposit canned food to give to some charity.  This is good.  In the past I have grabbed some canned good as we were running out the door, not thinking much about what I was doing, almost grudgingly.  I wonder if the giving of canned goods couldn’t be made into a bigger part of my party preparations.  I don’t know exactly how I would do that with my children, maybe take them shopping with a budget and have them pick out the food?  I do think that we need to be careful in public setting with that kind of a service project.  Recently a dear person was unable to bring canned goods to a party and it was pointed out, that they hadn’t brought anything.  She didn’t say anything and it was dropped, but I know she felt bad, this year had been terrible for her and her family financially, she later said to me “people are giving me money, and helping me out for Christmas, I didn’t feel like I could give away the little I had, and then require more help”.  She was distressed, feeling like she wasn’t serving, I told her that she always has time, and right now being a good friend and loving people and giving of time was enough, and is in fact the greatest service of all.  I wonder, had we all pooled the money spent on our 5$ gifts and given it to her for medical bills, would we all not have been more enriched than we were by a 5$ tin of cookies.  Just a thought.

Last night I participated in an youth activity.  We went caroling and delivered baskets of food to the needy in our neighborhood.  It was a nice activity, full of service, those youth gave of their time to give to others.  I don’t know how needed the food was in those baskets, but I do know that there are families, and single adults and the sick who know that a group of people took time out of their busy lives, in the freezing cold for them.  And that is what the spirit of Christmas and giving is all about.  Giving of our time, our love, our lives to lift others up, when we focus on that and think nothing of  receiving and being entertained, that is how we combat the bah humbug and let our hearts grow and enjoy this Christmas season.

Service Tree

As the years have gone by I have become increasingly disillusioned with Christmas.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of Christmas, a day set aside to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer.  I also love the idea of commemorating his birth by giving gifts to those we love, because Christ gave us many gifts, the greatest being eternal life.  It seems to me (and I am talking in general here, not about a specific person) that increasingly we are giving lip service to the idea of gift giving and caring for the poor on Christmas and we are focusing more and more on GETTING.  My family is no exception.  I find that my children talk more of gifts and Santa and what they want from Santa than Christ and His birth and His gifts.  I blame myself, I have created this, I love having an excuse to be extravagant in my gift giving (via Santa) with my children.  I over the years have focused on the gifts more than true service and Christ centered worship.

Last Christmas, instead of the kids giving gifts to each other we had service ornaments.  Each child drew a name and for the month of December they were to do service for the person they drew and add a special ornament to the tree every time a service was preformed.  It went ok, especially for the first few days, they it kind of petered out and was forgotten.

So this year I thought I would mix it up a little. 

We now have a service tree. 


(this is a terrible picture, the lighting in my living room is not good)


On slips of paper I wrote down the name of a person, or a type of person (example: teacher, neighbor, friend) and put them all in an envelope.  Every morning at devotional we draw a slip and for that day we all do a service for that particular person.  I am thinking this will help us stay focused and do more service.  Once that service had been done, and approved by a parent, an ornament is added to the tree.

I hope this helps my children become more service oriented.

As for how we celebrate Christmas, I think things are going to change around here in the next few years.  I would like Christmas to become a Holy day of worship.  First to go just might be Santa, I wonder why I need some stand in mythical man to give my children gifts?  I know a lot of people say he (Santa) represents Christ, to that I ask: why do we need some stand in mythical man for Christ when we have the real thing?


How to you center your family on Christ during the Christmas season?

Service Ornaments

I know Christmas is over, and decorations are packed away for next year, but I had a friend ask how my children did with their service project, instead of exchanging gifts with each other.  So I thought I would do a Christmasy post in January.

The first Monday in December, my kids drew names out of a hat, the person they drew were their service buddy for the month.  The goal was to preform some act of service every day, when they did their service and reported it to Dadzoo or I they were able to add a “service ornament” to the Christmas tree.

They started off the project with a huge bang, the first day they had all done some kind of service before I had even woken up.  I was very much encouraged.  As time went on, they forgot and had to be reminded everyday, which is fine, but it even got to the point where some weren’t doing service at all.  My more motivated children were pretty consistent, but the lesser motivated children had to be reminded, and still forgot sometimes.  It was also a tad hard with my youngest, he is 3, and while he could do little things for his secret buddy, it was mostly up to me to help him do it, and sometimes even I forgot!
So, was it a success?  I would say, yes.  There was a spirit of service, and a lot of nice things were done for each other.  We will be doing it again next year, for sure, but a little different.  I think we will either do it for a shorter time, maybe the week before Christmas, or switch service buddies a few time throughout the month to keep things fresh, new and fun.
Did you try anything new this Christmas?