Since this is the first year we haven’t celebrated Santa, my kids and I aren’t quite in the groove to responding to comments from every clerk, old lady passing by, or teacher when they ask, “What is Santa bringing you this year?” Or, “Are you ready for Santa?” In fact, we have gotten pretty good at ignoring the questions and/or smiling. I happen to believe most people know the real meaning of Christmas, so I choose not to come off as berating some by explaining why we do not celebrate. I am also aware that not celebrating Santa’s appearance may seem taboo to others, so I prefer to avoid the topic all together in situations like these. Maybe one day, I’ll come out with our antics to these strangers…or maybe not.
It has been kind of fun avoiding the facade that is Santa this year. We have actually had great discussions about other things unrelated to Santa; Baby #2 wanted to know exactly how old Jesus is on Christmas. We have also conversed about things we want to do as a family over break. Baby #2 made her very own list of things she hopes her Christmas to include…
I especially like #15, make dogs fansy Christmas. (She plans to dress up the dogs for the holiday.)
Many of our family’s ideas (that we’ve listed below) are things we’ve done for some time, however it is apparent that their meanings are increasingly important now that Santa is out of the picture. So, in case you are also new to a NO-Santa Christmas, here are the 15 things we plan to do to make our holiday special and stay true to its steadfast meaning:
- Decorate a Christmas tree. Yes, I realize that this is essentially a pagan tradition; however our family finds much meaning and excitement in decorating a tree yearly. Each year after Thanksgiving, we dig out our Christmas tree and play Christmas music while it is erected. (Being the cheap skate that I am, I am not a fan of a real tree; especially since our tree is gorgeous and was only $30 on sale many years ago…and I don’t have to deal with the needles or its disposal.) Once it is put up, each child has a box of ornaments accumulated over the years since their birth that they use to adorn our tree with. Some of the ornaments are from family or friends, some are of their own creation, and some are ornaments that we have chosen together (most likely at a post-Christmas clearance sale). Regardless, decorating a tree yearly is always something that we all look forward to, and when we get to reflect back on other times.
- Put up stockings. In an effort to begin a new holiday tradition, this is the first year we have done this. We plan to add movie passes to each of them, however if you have other useful or unique ideas for future stockings, please advise! (Keep in mind, I am not a fan of junk food or filling them with useless toys that will be discarded in a day.) I am hoping it will be a hit such that movie passes in the stockings will be something they look forward to yearly.
- Read Advent scripture passages nightly. Here is the one that we use.
- Set up a navity scene. We’ve been using a Little People Navity Set for the longest time…it’s durable and appropriate for all ages! As a game this year, we plan to hide the set’s Three Wise Men on Christmas Eve. The child who finds all of them first will get to start the gift opening.
- Track Christmas by an Advent Calendar. Our Advent calendar is a reusable one with an attached faux candy cane that the kids move from day to day.
- Bake cookies. This year, the kids have picked out the cookies that they want to help bake. We are baking gingerbread men, frosted sugar cookies, and puppy chow.
- Bake Jesus’s birthday cake on Christmas Day. I cannot tell you how excited the kids are about this! Since we no longer recognize Santa, Jesus’s birthday is a hot topic here!
- Encourage gift buying for others. This year our children picked out gifts for kids less fortunate. They also were given a certain amount each to purchase gifts for each other. We too colored Christmas cards for the residents of a local nursing home.
- Participate in a church Christmas program. This is probably my favorite part of the holiday, as it is usually sooo cute! 🙂
- Make a special meal for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. To make holiday mealtime more special for our kids, I found at a thrift store a while back mini wine glasses that we fill with “wine juice” (some sort of sparkling juice). Our kids think this is super fun!
- Read Christmas books! Ours are brought out only at Christmastime!
- Listen and sing to Christmas music!
- Watch Christmas movies! We sometimes like to enjoy our movies with a bowl of popcorn and a cup of hot chocolate!
- Have a slumber party! My kids LOVE for all of us to sleep in the same room together. Baby #2 would prefer that I be her nightly roomie, so it is high on her list to do a family sleepover at least one night during their Christmas break.
- Check out your local Christmas light displays!
Getting rid of Santa’s celebration has helped our family focus on the true meaning of Christmas, the importance of serving others, and the significance and joy in spending time together over the holiday. Its removal has also taken the high expectations and material focus away from my children’s assumptions, and instead has begun to instill in their hearts Christmas’s true meanings…Jesus, Family, and Giving.
And…they are STILL excited about Christmas!