I already feel it–the pressure.
Just a peek on social media and I feel like I’m chasing the holidays and I’m falling behind and it’s not even December 1. Maybe you feel it, too?
It’s not just all the busyness and festivities of the pending season, it’s the understanding that it’s up to parents to make Christmas perfect for our kids.
We are supposed to make it magical. The best Christmas ever.
I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing perfect about my life. It’s messy. There are unexpected bills and difficult decisions and challenging relationships, crockpot dinners and there is a lot of hard work. Christmas is for the broken, the needy, the hopeless. It’s for people like me and you. And the message we give our children about this holy season isn’t found under a tree, it’s discovered on it.
It’s easy to hear what our culture is telling us our kids need–but let’s talk about what they don’t need wrapped up this holiday season:
10 Things Our Kids Don’t Need This Holiday Season:
1. A Free Pass | It’s okay to expect our kids to contribute this Christmas–to help cook and clean, bake and wrap and to work extra jobs around the house or the neighborhood to help buy gifts for family members and friends. If they aren’t old enough to rake leaves or babysit, create a job jar with suggested ideas. They will feel good about what they give if we don’t give them a free pass.
2. An Elaborate Advent |.If you haven’t thought twice about Advent activities with your kids, you’re in good company. It’s overwhelming getting dinner on the table, much less planning 24 kid-friendly moments that are worthy of preparing little hearts for the coming of Jesus. Talk about pressure. My Advent Rule: Try something. Anything. Read one Scripture. Light one candle. Pray one prayer. Direct one heart to Him.
3. A Pin-worthy Holiday Season | I try not to even look at Pinterest this time of year. Oh, I love it, but sometimes, all the perfection makes me feel pretty pathetic. Our kids don’t need perfect cookies, they just need us to bake with them. They don’t need us to make their holidays look like someone else’s, they just need us.
4. Everything They Ask For | A couple of years ago, a friend told me she just didn’t know how she was going to get everything on her child’s Christmas wish list. When I said, “You don’t have to,” she looked shocked and little relieved. Kids will usually take everything we give them. But that doesn’t mean we should give them everything they want.
5. Our Guilt | There’s a lot of guilt (and depression) this time of year. Our kids have been fed the lie they can have and deserve everything they ask for and when we can’t or won’t give it, we might feel guilty. There’s no room for guilt this time of year. Giving your best and doing your best has very little to do with things.
6. Stuff They Don’t Need | Fun stocking stuffers never hurt anyone, but filling our home with the latest fads and trends only sets a precedence for more fads and trends. Years ago, we missed the beauty of Christmas Eve trying to hunt down that hard-to-find toy that ended up going unappreciated. It only ends when we let it
7. Stuff We Can’t Afford | 1 in 3 people will go into debt this Christmas. Paying off presents that have been long discarded months after the holidays isn’t fun for anyone. Let’s give our kids more than this.
8. For Christmas to Be All About Them | There’s nothing like Christmas with kids–their wonder and joy. But we can’t make it all about them. Some of our favorite memories involve giving Christmas away– sneaking gifts on a single mom’s porch, shopping for children who won’t have much, giving gifts that cost us something….these are the best moments.
9. A Glossed Over Christmas Story | The frenzy of December–the tree and lights and gifts, the parties and food and celebration overshadow the true Christmas story..the one that started in a smelly stable, with an exhausted girl and a dirty birth. One that would change the world and our our lives. This humble, imperfect place is the heart of Christmas and it’s a story our kids need to hear.
10. Christmas Wrapped Up in a Tidy Bow | Let’s embrace the imperfections of the season this year–the unfulfilled wish lists, the unwanted gifts, the unhappy moments. These are the opportunities to point our kids to the truth of the season and to the One who will make all things perfect.
Kelly H says
Thank you Kristen! Just what I needed to hear today… l’ll be printing this out to keep close as a good reminder of not only what is important at this time of year, but that it’s ok to stumble, and what a great time to show my family how I will grasp for Jesus in those “yuck” times.
I used to be one of the moms that had to give my kids everything they wanted. I was over compensating for other things I felt were lacking. But a few years ago I realized I was making things much worse for my greedy little imps so we really pulled everything back. We concentrate on what the season is/should be about. Christ and serving others. There are no christmas wish lists in my home anymore. I don’t even ask them what they want. They’re my kids, I know them. They get two gifts each from me they are smallish and that’s okay. They always cherish the gifts. I hope that continues into the teenage years because they are fast approaching!
Kristin Sparkman says
We usually don’t do big gift Christmas’ anyway but this year we have simplified even more. My son was diagnosed with Leukemia in September. We have such a great support system and community but with that comes STUFF. People don’t know what to do so they give you stuff. So we have let our kids know they are not getting lots from us this year. One gift only. My son even suggested because we have been given so much that maybe we give to others. I loved it cause that is what we have been thinking. Great when they get on board. Thank you for this list. It is always a great reminder.
You are right on the money! This totally puts peace to my mind. It’s about being present not the gifts under the tree.
So well said. Love it and love all that you write. Sharing this one as I share so many of your posts. 🙂
Keep up the awesome work!
Thank you! I desperately needed to hear this list, especially this year. We are a family of 5, with 3 small man cubs (5.5yrs, 2.5yrs, & 4 months), and my husband has been laid off for the winter as usual. This year has been financially difficult on us, with the decision for me to be a SAHM with our newest addition having a congenital heart defect. We have always trusted God to get us through financial struggles, and this winter is no different! But this Christmas, I will get rid of the guilt & get back to Jesus! Thankfully our boys know the real reason for the season, and we don’t do “Santa”. I will definitely be linking this post to my new post on Wednesday discussing our Christ-centered minimalist Christmas. Thanks again!
What a great post!
The bit about Advent made me laugh. I tried so many ways to do Advent when my kids were small. I way overdid trying to have traditions. We ended up loving the paper advent calendars with scripture behind each window and let it go at that. Our best Christmas memories are being involved as a family in the church Christmas program, Christmas Eve church service, and dad reading Luke 2 on Christmas morning. And cinnamon rolls. : )
Whitney Wagner says
Thanks for this list! It’s always good to have a reminder that we don’t need to give our children everything and anything. We try to find out the top three things on their list and make sure to give them whichever one is a) in our budget and b) most beneficial to them (i.e. I will probably never buy buy a Furby and Santa Claus is restricted from bringing my kids a cell phone lol)
Thanks for speaking the truth Kristen. A fantastic post!
Great job, Kristen. I can tell you were taught well. Love you n your family. GM
I always fret and worry that we never “do enough” during holiday break but honestly all kids truly want is for us to be there, to pay attention to them, to spend quality time with them (that doesn’t involve a screen in front of our faces all the time). Gifts are fun and I love giving them to my kids at Christmas because Christmas and birthdays are the only two times in a year where they get a new toy. But we’ve limited it to three gifts per kid.
My two oldest girls asked to go help at our Thanksgiving outreach (they weren’t forced nor coerced – does a momma heart proud to see such servant hearts!). We are really trying to put emphasis on warmth, love, family and helping others, rather than fulfilling all the ‘gimmes’ that can take over this time of year.
Thank you for reminding me to not wear a cloak of guilt if I don’t spend tons of time and money on building a fantasty when just spending time with them is what will truly be something memorable and cherished.
Yuri Ogawa says
When my 3 daughters were very young, some 54 years ago, I was a single mother on a really tight budget. We didn’t have extra money for “things” so the girls never demanded toys. Instead every night we made a Thanks” list n thanked God for all the blessings He had given us: the love of Jesus, the love we had for each other, a home, food every day n night, a job for me, n a wonderful Christian babysitter! We sang almost every day n laughed all the time. We prayed n thanked God for all He gave us! I thank God that He taught each of us the best gift at Christmas was indeed Jesus Christ. Those values continue in their children! PTL! I don’t mean to sugar-coat r life back then but it was terrific!
Erin Mouzon Wright says
Excellent reminders! Thanks for this.
Much needed words and the exact time they were needed! Thank you.
The Gifted Gabber says
Everyone and their mama needs to read this one! Thanks for sharing! — Amy @ thegiftedgabber.com
Thanks for this reminder Kristen!
We’ve tried to be I intentional and limit the gifts for kids on Christmas, as in they get one gift from us when we go to the grandparents excuse we know they’ll get a few from them and two or three (something’s to wear, something to read, something for fun) when we stay home. If they talk about what they’d like or want we say, oh ok honey, your birthday is coming or put the on your birthday list. We do talk about giving and receiving during Christmas. Our kids are still little though and I am sure we’ll find challenges and resistance as they get older but for now we’ll be happy platings some seeds!
And just a little tiny side vent note, when I hear about the “magic of the season” or he magic of Christmas or how we’re not making a magical Christmas for our kids (or stealing the magic) because we don’t do Santa, al I want to say is “OK explain to me what magic?” Because I don’t get it!
I hope I am not being all Grinch ????
We all need to hear this!! So inspiring to just be able to let go a bit. Nothing has to be perfect. Going to try and definitely follow this list with my family.
Thank you so much for being That Family!!
Tammy Fauver says
This year our kids will get 3 gifts each. If it is good enough for Jesus…it is good enough for them.