Last year I shared this blog post that described a little bit how our family celebrates the holidays. It's short and to the point about why we do Christmas the way that we do but I still got some questions this year about a change that we made so I thought an end of the season follow up review might would be helpful. If nothing else I'll have a written record of the first time we started this tradition :-)
In a nutshell, our children receive a gift from us on Christmas morning. Usually this is the biggie, the main thing that they have been asking for. Then they will receive a gift of some sort each day for the next eleven days. Not anything major and sometimes it may be as simple as a family trip to the local frozen yogurt shop. One year there was a shoe day and everyone got a pair of shoes. Another favorite is a trip to Barnes and Noble where everybody is able to choose a book. Last year a dear friend of mine crocheted all the kids hats and scarves. (We did an exchange of services...her work for family pictures. Bartering is the best!) The final gift is always their Christmas stocking.
The last several years have been fun and the twelve days combined with the Advent season has, I think, made our celebration of the birth of our King much more meaningful. But last year we still felt like there was something missing that we wanted to include.
Being a good gift giver doesn't always come naturally. And by good gift giver I mean more than just being generous in the giving department. God didn't just send any old gift to us. He sent the Perfect gift...the One that would suit us, be what we needed, that would bring lasting joy. Obviously there is no way we can equal God in the gift giving department. But we can train up and teach our children to mimic His way in giving.
We want our children to be good gift givers. To give gifts for the sake of the one receiving the gift and not for the sake of giving just to be giving if that makes any sense at all. The point to God giving us Christ wasn't just to give something that would fix the mess we had made of the world. He gave Christ for us, for our good and our joy. Now, like I said, there is no way we can match God in gift giving but we can learn to give the way He did (and does). We want our children to give generously and thoughtfully and...here is the biggie...deliberately.
To that end we took five of the twelve days, one for each child, and called it their giving day. They didn't receive any gifts that day. Their gift was to delight in the joy of choosing and giving a gift to each of their siblings. They also got to choose one meal that day and cook it and serve the family.
For our first time doing this, I'd say it went very well. I do think we will budget differently next year for it and also incorporate jobs to earn some money for their purchases so that they can be a little more generous and creative in the gifts they choose. But all told, it went very well and it is definitely a part of our Christmas tradition now.
For the record, we sprinkled the five giving days throughout the twelve days and Samuel may or may not have given two of his sisters bags of coal as a joke before giving them their real presents.
On a different note, our church celebrated the final day of Christmas, Epiphany, this past Sunday with a feast after our worship service. We roasted a whole pig and everyone brought tons of sides and desserts and we played games and generally enjoyed each others company all afternoon. It was a fantastical end to a wonderful Christmas season.