It’s Not About How You “Do Christmas”




It’s the same story each year, it seems. Every time I turn around, there’s another post about simplifying the season. Every other person I talk to is bemoaning our “I want/gimme” society. The over-riding sentiment is that we’re totally screwing our kids up with this over-the-top materialism that rears its ugly head every Christmastime.


Honestly? I get that. When I see the electronics store ads with the woman buying $90 phones for all her nieces and nephews so she can be the “cool aunt”? I cringe. This is obviously not what the holidays should be about. I feel confident in saying that much.


But, if I’m truthful with you all, I’ll tell you that, in this house? We do Santa. The man in the red suit brings each child one (unwrapped) present, some funky socks (don’t ask me how that tradition started, but it stuck), and some candy and treats in a stocking.


We give our children gifts, too. And, um, I also admit we give more than three per child, despite the fact that “that was good enough for Baby Jesus.”


I don’t know how to categorize us, really. I think we’re kind of moderate when it comes to Christmas? We’re definitely not winning any awards for paring down. We also don’t come close to the level of indulgence that some families enjoy.


What matters, of course, is just that it works for us. Just like cutting down to a few gifts works for some families. Just like having heaps of presents works for others.


The big fear, however, is that, no matter what we choose to do, we’re ruining our kids. I’ve seen a lot of people place a lot of blame on the shoulders of Christmas and, more specifically, how it is celebrated.


“We’re creating an entitled generation with all these presents!” I read, as people expound on why they’ve chosen to cut way back. “Giving more than three or four gifts at Christmas just increases the “wantsies” and that’s not right!”


I click over to read another.


“It’s lack of gratitude that I see. In order to foster a sense of gratitude, we must cut back on stuff. This will allow our children to enjoy what they’re given and appreciate things more fully.”


Honestly? It all makes good sense. And I have absolutely ZERO problems with deciding to simplify the season and cut back on the heaps of presents.


It makes me a touch squirmy, however, since, instead of feeling convicted or challenged, I kind of feel called out. I recognize that that is my own issue, and I truly harbor no resentment toward those sharing what works for their families, but it makes me question if I’m doing a good enough job in fighting entitlement and fostering gratitude in my own kids.


After all, I let my kids believe in Santa.


I also give them more than five gifts.


But, as I drove them to an after-school activity, I casually remarked, “I can’t believe it’s December already! Christmas will be here before we know it!”


And I heard the voices in reply:


“I’m so looking forward to Christmas, Mom. But not because of the presents. Because I think it’s so amazing to celebrate Jesus’ birth.”


“Me too! It’s like we’re invited to His party every year! And it’s SO beautiful!”


“I like presents. But I like Jesus more.”



And I smiled.


They’re grateful kids.


I don’t think they’re particularly entitled.


Maybe, at the end of the day, it’s less about how we “do Christmas” and more about how we “do life.”

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4 comments to It’s Not About How You “Do Christmas”

  • earleyml

    I love your attitude that everyone will do Christmas how it works for them…it all comes down to absolutes vs preferences. Absolute = Jesus’s birthday is the reason for Christmas. Preference = Santa or no Santa, few presents vs lots of presents. It looks that your preferences aren’t challenging your absolutes b/c your kids get what Christmas is about. We personally decided to cut back on presents b/c our girls just have so many toys that they don’t even play with them and lots of clothes thanks to generous giving from friends at our church. We decided to do 4 gifts from mom and dad and talked to grandparents about trying to cut back some too…I think it’s harder for them. This is our preference and we aren’t judging others on what they choose to do.

  • Elizabeth

    Thank you for this! You summed up some disorganized thoughts I had swimming around in my head. I like your idea that it’s more about how we do life than how we do Christmas. After all, if I can be grateful and worshipful on Christmas but NOT on the other 364 days of the year, I haven’t really won any battles. But if I can remember that Christ is at the center of my life all year-round, I think my family and I are doing pretty well. :)

  • Laraba

    Totally love this! What works for one family, doesn’t for another. I think a lot has to do with motivation…are we trying to keep up with the neighbors, are we recreating our own childhood memories or trying to ward off childhood disappointments? Or are we praying for wisdom and intentionally bringing joy to our family.

    Baby squirming on my lap so I’ll sign off. Great post.

  • Heather B

    I would venture to guess that of the kids growing up to be magically fantastic adults some got hoards of holiday gifts and some got few. I also suspect of those A-holes you run into, some got lots and some got the 3 that were good enough for Jesus. I suspect the intricacies of your Christmas celebration is not the problem or the solution.

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