No matter how hard I try, I can’t ignore the hype of Christmas around me each year. Growing up, Christmas was quite a controversy and sometimes just about ignored in my family. So each year those bells ring louder in my ears: Where do you stand on the whole Christmas thing? Why don’t you have a tree? Should we give gifts or does it add to the consumerism? The controversy around the actual date, and now that I have a kid of my own, the added question of Santa’s existence. Small wonder that as soon as the bells start jingling and the carols start singing, I retreat, avoid, and disappear…
Enough already. I can either be a product of my past (and give my little girl a similar experience to mine) or I can re-write the present (no pun intended). I have chosen that I want my kids to have magical memories of Christmas as they grow up. I am reclaiming Christmas! Here are a few pieces of the puzzle so far…
For our first Christmas as a married couple I decided to re-introduce gift-giving into our family Christmases. I wasn’t going to give in to the consumerism of it all though, so proposed a recycled christmas.
The next year my in-laws forced into some family caroling around the piano, which was way more fun and significant than what I could ever have imagined.
Last year we heralded Christmas (our baby’s very first) briefly in the ED as I was extremely ill. But even that wasn’t a complete write-off, because, sick as we were, we had the unexpected privilege of being flies on the tinsel in the home of our daughter’s loving god-parents: On Christmas eve we saw their special family traditions of reading the story of Jesus’ birth, and how they involved their boys (and our little girl) by ringing bells and praying together after they explained what made this day special. The next morning (too sick to get up) we heard the boys running to the tree and excitedly tearing open gifts. Later in the day we saw them return from a family feast – exhausted, but overjoyed. It made me realise that we could also make Christmas a special day for our family.
So a couple of weeks ago I started by decorating our home for the festive season. I made some upcycled Christmas decorations using an old wooden jigsaw puzzle and some fluoro paint. (These doubled nicely as my creative project for the week.)
Then, thanks to the gentle nudge from a good friend (aka Santa’s little helper), I finally succumbed and went in search of our very first Christmas tree.
I also decided to start some family traditions of our own: Every year each child gets to choose or make one new ornament for the tree (We can also use these symbols to teach the kids about the true Christmas story.)… That way, in a few years’ time we’ll have a lovely eclectic tree resembling the taste and development of our kids as they grew up, and reminding us of all the Christmases we have shared together as a family.
It might take a few years, but piece by piece I am trying to creatively re-introduce the marvel of Christmas into our family.