How do you do the holidays?

There are just so many ways to do the holidays. We do them minimally in a lot of ways, and yet I always leave the season the feeling rich. Our families spoil our children that is plain and simple. From all sides our boys are loved. But we do work hard to keep things as simple as we can with our family. For several years we have done “buy nothing” Christmases or kept them very low cost adhering to limits our families have set, often finding ways to stay below those and within our means, but still finding ways substantially bless those we love. And by substantially I do not mean monetarily.

We love traditions and have several/many that we do in our home.

1. We do a version of “elf on the shelf” with our elf named Scout. He is delivered by our local Nordic Santa as close to December 1 as possible and comes with a letter of greeting. All month long the boys will search and find him in fun (sometimes creative, crafty, or clever) locations around our home.
2. We have an advent calendar. Each year the pockets are filled with different kinds of activities. Some simple, some more complex – but all are special in their own right.
3. We do not fill our stockings with things. We fill them with slips of paper and on Christmas morning we create an annual paper chain that is filled with memories, things we are grateful for, and recognition of those in our family.
4. We are blessed to be so near family so we spend Christmas Eve with my husband’s family and Christmas Day with my family. Although Christmas Eve also includes a trip to church, and this year Christmas morning we will stay home. So even these traditions have changed with time.
There are so many other traditions and things I like to do each year, but those four are fairly constant. I’ve found that each has a special way of incorporating the things we love, believe, and value.
I’d love to see a discussion started over here at Inspiration Clothesline (on Facebook) about your traditions or how you handle the trickier parts of the holiday season.
Some things come to mind…

1. gift exchanges

2. gifts for extended family
3. gifts for friends
4. time
5. bedtimes/routines
6. staying healthy or what you do if you don’t
7. schedules and parties
Oh the list can go on….. and on…
Today I will mention one of my dilemmas. Each year I want our kids to have in mind their wants/needs/and others. So I’ve devised a “Christmas Wishlist” approach for us. I love it. We do
a want
a need
something to wear
something to read
and they select something to give
We started this a year or two ago with Cashel and even when he was so small I tried to really think about each category. The past two years we have packed or help pack a shoebox as our “give” and this year each boy picked something to give. I did not help Cashel, he chose this year. But Camper I tried to select something that was in excellent condition. We will take them to a toy drive to donate.
The other dilemma is how to share these with family who love to give to our kids… So far the only way I have found is to wait until someone asks “what do the kids want/need?” Then I share. I’m actually hoping to establish a tradition with these lists that the kids really do not get much beyond what is there – I want the things they get to be special and within reason. But also so appreciate the great generosity  of those who love our boys. Such a fine line. Tell me about how you do this? The other thing we really love are experiences and I would love to someday see that those are the kinds of gifts the boys receive or even ask for on their lists. Experiences with a cousin, parent, grandparent or things like punch cards/memberships that allow them to enjoy the gift and the memory that goes with it. Tell me about what you do!
Cashel also would have put duplos on his “want list” but a friend mailed us some so I didn’t include that request. 🙂 And in years to come I will really work hard that only one thing is in each category. But since they are so small it really is hard to know what they would want…. Just simply to decipher it from their little brains…. He really did name the two under want, asked about the book earlier this week, and selected his own “give.” I of course chose the wear and need – in years to come these will really be areas we discuss together.
Again I’ve been trying to watch the kids, listen, and really evaluate since they can’t totally do these on their own. The needs were obvious after our move. (I considered a convertible car seat as Camper’s need, but those are so pricy, his is about to expire so it will need to be purchased soon.) The read for Camp is a book I’d love to pull out each Christmas. He is in love with big brother’s Seahawks hat and it’s really hard to share one hat so his wear is  bit less of a necessity (what can I say he has most of Cashel’s hand-me-downs). 😉 He loves to tumble and run, and again I’m trying to encourage experiences and memories so I chose for his want something I knew he would really enjoy. The give was something in excellent shape that he can take to a local toy drive.
For our new baby I knew people might/have asked about what to get him, but we really have many bases covered. There were a few things that stood out…. so they went on the list.
Do share how you do lists? gifts?
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