Friday, December 12, 2014

Let's talk about Christmas

Clearly people don't come here for my book choices. There are only 12 views on yesterday's book post :)

I posted about our simple Christmas a few weeks ago so I thought it was time to do a few quick updates and also talk about a few other things we're not doing.

The store-bought advent calendar was very well received by both kids and then about 5 days in, we arrived home to a bit of drama.

One child ate all the other child's chocolates from their calendar.

The "victim" was surprisingly chilled about it and very forgiving (more than I would have been).

Somehow they negotiated and sorted out the rest of the chocolates.

Bottom line - advent calendars are no more. And since willingly giving them chocolate was already a stretch for me, we decided not to replace either of them.

However, my lovely friend at the Se7en blog does a monthly calendar which I normally don't use but this time I printed them out for the kids to colour in.

They spent two evenings happily colouring in both sheets and now they're using that to cross off the days.

SO EASY - I might never go back to the difficult advent calendars again. D and I chatted about this advent calendar thing and he said (and here's where we act really old), in his day, the advent calendar just had a picture behind the window - the fun was in counting down and seeing the picture.

And then let's talk about the elf on the shelf.

Now I have two issues with this elf.

1) Really? The festive season is crazy enough all by itself. Everybody in the world says they're too busy except today I read on one blog that December always feels calm to her. She is the only person I've ever heard say that.

Anyway, so then we want to ADD to the craziness by making this elf do tricks for 25 days? No thanks, I'll say no to the extra crazy.

2) That thing is just creepy. If I were a little child, I'd be freaked out at the thought of something watching me and making sure I'm good.

Do you have an Elf?

Okay, one more thing about Christmas. And for this one, I'm very guilty. I bribe my children too. But it feels wrong. God gives me good gifts DESPITE my behaviour, and so a few nights ago when I said, if you guys are good this week, we'll let you open your Christmas presents on Friday night (mainly so they could charge the cameras before the holiday),that just felt wrong.

I don't want them to feel like they have to earn their gifts. We (not Father Christmas) give good gifts because we love them and feel that they would be delighted by something just like God gives good gifts even when we don't deserve them.

Also, like Mandy said, I'm all for imagination but I don't do all these fantasies like the Easter Bunny and Father Christmas. At school they do Father Christmas and I very reluctantly sent gifts to school and had to ooh and ah when they came home to show me the Lego they got.

Tell me how you approach all this Father Christmas/ Santa/ Mr Kringle business.

PS Don't forget about our Saturday Snapshots tomorrow!
PPS My annual Christmas sale is on - scroll right down the page to see all of the detail.

And then I looked through my Feedly and found this post which ties in very nicely here.


  1. We do Santa, but don't make a big deal of it; it's just a fun part of something bigger for us. We have an elf, but it's creepy to me too, so we've never done the "he's watching and going to report to Santa, so behave!" thing. He (our seven-year-old son) actually does all of the moving it around. I don't want him to behave because Santa (or anyone else) is watching; I want him to behave because it's what we do as people.

    I love Christmas, but am not part of the "machine" of it. I find it very calming as well. We don't do elaborate gifts, or buy a lot of things, but we spend a lot of time together, watching movies and cooking/baking for people, just very cozy things (to me). There are a lot of things we say "no" to in terms of activities so that we can enjoy the season and focus on the parts we think are most important. (Don't get me wrong--the fun and anticipation are great too, and we enjoy them! We just keep it very simple.)

  2. We don't do the advent calendar...I tried it one year and we mostly forgot to open them on time. The elf thing can be cute and funny from what I've seen, but this whole month is crazy enough for me, so we've never done that either. We do cookies and milk for Santa. That's about it.

    I guess we do more or less what we did as children ourselves? That's how it works around here anyway.

  3. You already know I don't mess with that nonsense! That elf would creep me out, still! The school bit is killing me, but Neighbor Lady really helped put it into perspective for me. There's a girl in her daughter's class who is a Jehovah's Witness and has to sit out of all activities; that's not something I want for my children. So I will tolerate the games but I'm not playing along, we review the meaning of the season and focus on giving and family. I don't normally label gifts, but this year they will all say from Mommy and Daddy just to reinforce my message.

    P.S. Elsie is crazy!

  4. Father Christmas shows up but I do take my cues from the kids. For the most part, he's fairly low-key - but this is because Christmas gifts in our house are a low-key thing. We don't go and take photos with him in the shopping malls, there's no father christmas decor in the house, we don't track Father Christmas or do that video thing etc and if no one talks about it, then he just doesn't come! Last year Joel was all Father Christmas mad and we indulged it. This year he doesn't seem to care. So, we'll ask him if next week if Father Christmas must come or if Mom and Dad can just bring him stuff and we'll take it from there. Joshua could not care less - he just wants STUFF.

    I stopped advent calendars two years ago - it was fuelling my anxiety and my kids weren't that interested in it. Also. I realised that the calendars were more about ME than anything else. There's NEVER been an elf around here - too much work! I DO admire those who can pull it off and I say GO FOR IT IF IT'S YOUR THING.
    I have no idea who Mr Kringle is. And there is no easter bunny here either.

  5. I do agree with Louisa that we kind of adopt what we did and enjoyed as kids and that's fine. I just asked Joel if Father Christmas must come and he said yes! I think that it's all good as long as father christmas is not the central figure and as long as our kids understand and know the reason for the season.

  6. December is calm around my house too. I usually work all through so that tells you something. We don't go crazy with gifts. Actually I can't remember the last time we exchanged gifts at Christmas. And I went with the need and toy theme for Kanyin so that made life easy and she's already using her need - and I got her gifts by early November

    I never heard about elf on a shelf until this year. Is it a new phenomenon or I am from the dark ages and yes it creeps me out. I have to admit the things people get up to with elf amaze me I can't help but think how much time one must have to be able to think up all those ideas. Still yet to totally get the gist of it though

    I like Santa but not as some magical man that brings gifts. Growing up we went for pictures with "weird" Santa but I knew he was just some man dressed up in red with fake beard for pictures. not some man coming down the chimney bringing gifts. We didn't have chimneys anyway so that would have been far fetched. And that's my take on it. We'll get pictures but no cookies and milk under the chimney - that's taking it too far. And I have the same thoughts re - easter bunny

    We never had an advent calendar as a child so it's all new to me. Time will tell if it will grow on me as I know Y doesn't get all these things

    Life is busy enough as it is

    1. Ps: I wouldn't feel guilty about "bribing" kids. Seriously that is life if you do well at work for example you get a reward in the way of a bonus or a promotion and it is not bribing

  7. This is the first year that Kade is really into Christmas properly. So I am trying my best to balance the whole Father Christmas thing with the REAL reason we celebrate Christmas which is of course Jesus. So I keep telling him that Christmas is about Jesus and that Father Christmas is a part of that. I don't want him to miss out on being a kid and having this cute imagination because I'm phscyco analysing how Father Christmas is messing with Christmas.

    That said we've kept him very low key. He's coming, he will come down our very thin chimney and he will leave a gift for each kid. We will do the whole "milk and cookies" thing for him because what's life without a little bit of magic?


  8. Oh and the ELF is WAAAAAAAY too much work. My job is just nuts at this time of year I barely have time to fart let alone come up with creative idea's for an Elf that should be working anyway ;-)

  9. Only catching up on blogposts now! Saw the elf thing for the first time last November...thought I'd try it for Christmas 2015, or maybe not, does seem like a lot of work!!! But I love the fuss over Father Christmas...had a stocking, milk and cookies this year and a gift from Santa. Ethan thoroughly enjoyed it :-)


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