So, how was it? How were/are your holidays?
We celebrated with our annual giant Christmas Eve shabang at our friend Audrey’s house. G. grew up with Audrey and her sister, and they’ve spent every Christmas Eve, Thanksgiving, and Easter together with two other families since he was little. As an only child, it’s really my new favorite tradition. I love that our girls have these “cousins” and “aunts” and “uncles” that we see on a regular and festive basis. The kids G. was raised with now have children of their own, two of whom are almost the exact same age as BeBe and Lolly, so it’s really sweet to see them love each other. After a giant French five course meal, gift exchange (“Yankee” style), and a visit from Santa Claus, we drove home in the wee hours of the morning. Our Christmas here was calm and more understated than in years past. It felt just right. I say that as they received a guitar, a drum set, new beautiful dolls now dubbed “Nyssa” and “Jen” complete with wardrobes on tiny hangers, a ballerina jewelry box, legos, and wardrobes of their own.
The most important aspect was that we got to spend time with family and friends. But my children are raised in a relatively secular household. They are both Baptized, but we’re not church-goers, and I’m not even sure they understand the meaning behind Christmas. My daughters were loving with each other and with the everyone we visited with. Yet without a strong religious foundation, does Christmas have to become a vapid, spendy, spoiled affair?
I asked a few friends of mine how they made the season about something more than gifts. Brilliant girls that they are, everyone had some story or tradition to offer that I aim to incorporate not only next Christmas but more into our lives.
~ GIVING IS BETTER THAN RECEIVING ~
One friend took on the responsibility of buying gifts for a family of foster children. When she found out these would be the ONLY gifts these children would be receiving, she realized that she couldn’t actually afford to provide Christmas presents for this family as well as her own. So she started babysitting for friends. But instead of having them pay her, she had them bring an age-appropriate gift for the foster children. When the time came to give the gifts, she felt like St. Nick, and went with a giant bag filled to the brim for the other family. She took her children along for the ride so that they too could feel good about giving to others. Other friends gave to orphanages and pregnancy crisis centers. It really hits home when you can get your children to go through their own toy boxes and see what they can live without.
~ VOLUNTEER WITH YOUR KIDS ~
I shouldn’t be surprised by how many of my friends take their children with them while volunteering. Meg goes to the animal shelter with her kiddos. Emmie takes food to people’s homes who are too sick to cook or care for themselves. She does this once-a-month year round, but tries to go every weekend in December to ensure they don’t feel forgotten.
The message to put others before yourself seems so simple, and yet between the move and the general holiday madness, it may have evaded us this year. I’m so impressed with these lovely ladies. They inspire me to do better.