Not to get all U-S-H-E-R on y'all, but I just can't hold it in.
The advent calendar was a bust at our house.
I loved making it and we have had it before and they loved it.  (Granted, avery was probably three and the twins have no recollection of it at all, but, still, there weren't any issues.)
This time around, however, there have been some issues.
They get to get something out of the envelope of the day, every morning, and it always starts out well.  They get super excited getting to do it and then as soon as they figure out what it is that they got, they are either over it and want something else from another day, or just don't care that much for what they have in that envelope.  
And it breaks my heart.
It just makes me so sad.  It doesn't last for very long and its not like a huge thing, but it has really made me rethink so much about Christmas and what it looks like over here.
(I am sure that part of it is just that they can see the other toys, but still!)
I don't want my kids to be ungrateful or selfish.  
I just don't know exactly how to go about that.  
I don't think that they are, or that we buy them tons of stuff or every toy they want- thats not the case at all.  They know they have to be kind, talk sweetly and mind me and Jeff or there are consequences. They know that no matter what commercial is on TV that they say they want that they probably won't be getting it.  Most of the time they are pretty obedient and mostly grateful.
I have read the blog posts and articles going around, like the Christmas Conundrum and Beth and Cassie have really neat posts on her blog about how they are simplifying christmas.  I love the idea of simplifying christmas and am very moved and encouraged by everyone who is doing this.  I definitely, without a doubt, want everything to be about Christ and glorifying Him and celebrating His birth.
Desiring to put Christ first, the cool blogs posts, mixed with the advent calendar craziness, has really made me think about more ground rules and putting the emphasis more on Christ and selflessness in our home.  I do think that we talk about Christ, His life, His selflessness, being selfless and serving and loving others all the time.  We pray and say thank you to God and each other for things.  I feel like we do that everyday.  But, all of this helped me realize that we need to do it so much more.
And I love Christmas. 
I love celebrating Christ and hearing the story of His birth.  I love the nativity scene and Christmas music.  I love pictures with Santa and getting Christmas cards. I love holiday parties and school programs. I love the magic and focus on giving. I love spending time with family. I love making gifts and perusing every gift guide known to man searching for the perfect gift online and in stores.  I am not overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle- I love it.  I love everything about it.  I want to go full force, like every other mom, and buy my whole family everything, read a million christmas books and listen to tons of christmas music.  I love all of it.  We have the elf on the shelf, we do santa, and we most importantly want to teach gratitude and love for others above ourselves.  
So, I am changing the game a little.
Next year, I am going to do a different advent calendar with family activities and scriptures, instead of toys.  I think just having the count down itself will be so much fun.  I am also asking my parents to just give them three gifts and telling the kids they can ask for three things (I am fully aware that this probably won't happen as both my parents and in laws are amazing gift givers, but at least its out there :) It is really helping them not constantly ask me for things and always saying "I want that!!!!" whenever they see anything pink and plastic (or dinosaurish).
So, I guess this is just my crazy over analyzing mind in all of this.  I want to glorify God first and foremost and celebrate Him everyday this season.  I also love the magic of Santa and the fun of giving others gifts.  I want to celebrate this time when my kids get to believe in something for a little bit, before they're too old.  I am fully aware that this belief is in something that isn't real, but it is magical and I loved it as a kid.   And I am just so thankful for the thought provoking posts and talks that I have been able to have because of all of this.  It has just made me realize how much more emphasis I want on Christ and really drew me into prayer to try to figure out what we should do as a family. I just feel like I have grown so much in this area just in the past week.
I also want to try to buy things that are fair trade (beth and cassie both have good ideas), buy handmade like etsy, or make things. I definitely want to set an example that its not about what you get, but what you give. I just know that I want to make sure that my focus is where it should be and that my kids end up, at the end of this season, knowing more about Christ, giving and being grateful for the family, friends, God and life that they have been blessed with.
Minus an advent calendar.


BrookeD said...

You are so right Kristen and it was great reading this post this morning! You and your sweet family are so wonderful and such an inspiration even when you may not think so!!!

I need to simplify Christmas too. It's all about the joy of Christ :)

Rejoice always, give thanks, and keep on praying!! :)

Mindy Rives said...

Maybe next year each day should have a Christmas activity, instead of something material? For example,

1) Go visit santa
2) Make Christmas treats and deliver to the neighbors
3) Shop and wrap for Angel tree gifts
4) Make hot chocolate and watch a Christmas movie
5) Read The Night Before Christmas
6) Read The Christmas Store from the bible
7) Be a secret Santa to someone in need


This is what I'm planning on doing with Lucy when she is old enough to understand.

Josh, Erica, Garrett, and Haylee said...

I really enjoyed reading your post this morning. Thank you very much for it.
We did the family activity advent calender this year (because I was trying to avoid all the candy) and it was a huge hit. We did exactly what Mindy said, Go see Santa, make Christmas cards (and we sent them to family and friends), go see Christmas lights, have hot cocoa, play a family game, read the 1st Christmas story, etc.....
My kids (5 & 3) LOVE it!!! Good luck and thank you for your inspiring words!!!

Hayley and Aaron said...

Kristen, this has definitely been on my heart so much the last few weeks as well. Spending less and giving more, and rewiring our habits during Christmas! My sister let me know about these websites that sell beautiful items that are fair trade and empower women in impoverished countries.

Thanks for sharing your heart!

Finally an Abrigg..... said...

Love this post. I was apart of an advent ornament exchange last year that I love! Go to my friend Brittney's blog thepoefam.blogspot.com and search for 'a meaningful Christmas.' it has been such a blessing for Titus, Peter & I and you Make your own ornaments. That is right up your alley!! There are no gifts involved..just activities about each scripture & ornament.

Kristen said...

We do the Advent Jesse Tree and it is all scripture and you walk through the bible through the month of December. I also feel the same way about the gifts and I am not a fan of gifts everyday. You have to make your ornaments for your Jesse Tree, & buy your book. It is called The Jesse Advent Tree devotional for children. WE use our kids bible with it too! We open a new ornament every night that represents the story from the bible we read each night. It is meaningful, wonderful, and all about our savior. My twins and little boy love it. If you have a questions, I have an entire blog about it. We also only do 3 gifts to the kids representing the 3 gifts that the wisemen brought to Jesus. Those all have meanings too, but I would would write a book about it. Let me know ifyou want me to send you that info on any of these things. :) I am totally with you on this. :) That is why we don't do gifts for advent.

Kristen Cooper

Beth said...

I know, Christmas is such a mess these days and we all have to sort through the pieces to figure out what is best for our little families! It's so encouraging to watch people challenge the 'normal' and see how Christ transforms the 'normal' into something so much greater than we can grasp! Kristen, you are such an inspiration!

Beth said...

Hi Kristen, thanks so much for stopping by my blog! I love y'alls it is so fun and full of great ideas. I love this post...I think incorporating activities into the advent calendar is an awesome idea! I just might have to copy it next year :)

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