December 4, 2009

What do you want for Christmas?

We put the tree up yesterday and Ivy only pulled it down twice. (Not bad, right?)

It's our second year with a pre-lit tree and you can probably imagine my disappointment when I plugged it in and it didn't light up. That's what I was afraid of.

Apparently if you push the "on" button, though, it will light up. :)


Gray is okay with Chazz Star now. He just keeps his distance.

The boys excitedly wrote out their Christmas lits.

carterslist


We don't give a lot of presents to the kids at Christmas. Mostly because we can't responsibly afford it, and also because we want to instill the mindset of Christmas not being only about getting gifts. It seems each year we try to be "more simple" than the last.

noahslist

I never make a Christmas list. Jeff and I don't exchange gifts, and we don't expect it. Ever.

The kids always find a small toy and some candy in their stocking. Under the tree is usually one or two wrapped gifts for each child, appearing on Christmas morning.


I do think back to my childhood and how our living room would be filled FILLED with toys. Those are some of my favorite memories, actually. The tiny Barbie-sized grand piano that really played, my Littles doll house, kitchen sets, there was always so much.

I confess it makes me a little sad that we can't do that for our boys, but I know they have plenty of favorite memories over the couple toys they do get, and a living room filled FILLED with our family.

I've got everything I've ever wanted already this Christmas.


If you can responsibly spend extra this year, or are willing to hold back a portion of what you'd normally spend to give to those in need and make a true Christmas Change, please take a peek at the Christmas Change project I'm happy to stand behind. Your small change can make a huge difference to someone else. Even you.

[Especially you.]


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39 comments:

  1. Love the lists. I agree, Christmas gets to be too much about the gifts. my boyfriend and I aren't exchanging gifts either as both of us are broke and I don't want anything. For my son, it's fun because he appreciates even the smallest things. Like your boys.

    Good job Mom!

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  2. I keep trying to keep Christmas as simple as possible, but my husband has a different mind set. He feels as though he isn't "providing" for his family if there isn't a huge pile of toys under the tree. I think he came to his sense a little last year, though, when I pointed out that we had been wandering around Target for a while now, simply trying for find any toys that would "fill up" the large budget he insisted on for the kids. This year he lowered the budget and as agreed on my suggestions of higher priced, yet better quality, more simple toys for the girls.

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  3. Shane and I grew up with very different Christmas experiences. His parents go all out for Christmas, while mine kept it simple. Truth to be told, I never remember wanting more at Christmas, instead I remember the one or two very special gifts I would receive each year. It's taken some time, but I've gotten Shane to tone it down, and we now celebrate very simply. No gifts for each other, very minimal children gifts. We instead enjoy our time as a family and maybe take each other out to dinner, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

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  4. We decided to give my daughter (Ivy's age) three presents--representing the three gifts Jesus recieved at his birth. Like you and Jeff, my husband and I want to teach Emerson the real reason for the celebration.

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  5. Do they both have iPhones on their lists? That is awesome!

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  6. I want to go more simple, we are working on it. Except this is the third year I asked for a vacuum so if Santa doesn't get it for me he is on the couch for a while.

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  7. So cute...the boys lists don't really reflect "simple". It seems like they enjoy asking for outrageous things like, was that a motorcycle on one list? LOL. Christmas should be about something other than gifts. We've got a nativity scene this year & we are going to talk a bit more about Baby Jesus.

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  8. I too grew up in a house where every year the room seemed more and more filled with gifts (my mother says as her only girl I was so easy to buy things for and she would always pick up so much for me, and she would buy the same for each child.....I believe it, since I've seen her shopping madness with her granddaughter!). Garret and I have already set up a guideline for a more simpler Christmas once we have a family, not so much for ourselves, but because we know our parents will not be happy and we want to prepare them ahead of time. As for us, at most we pick up something simple for one another, since we don't have any needs or wants.

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  9. we dont have any children yet, but we've talked about what we want it to be like for them somemday. We've decied to go down the route of Annie, 3 presents to represent the 3 gifts to Jesus. We want to focus on the meaning and the tradition,not the stuff.

    This year Im making all of our christmas presents for others and we've decided to trade gift certificates we have to our favorite stores and get something for each other with it.

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  10. I love that they have iphones on thier lists! Love that! :)

    I grew up the same way you did. We were always in awe over the amount of presents that appeared christmas morning. My parents never put a single present under the tree until we were asleep. We'd walk in in the morning and our jaws would drop.. the wholllle living room would be filled.

    I dont know if Miles will ever have the experiance. But I think I'm okay with that.. I wish Christmas wasnt all about presents. I even asked my husband if he thinks we could raise Miles to not even know you are supposed to get presents on Christmas. Wouldnt that be awesome! :)

    We definitly want to focus more on family and the spiritual aspect...

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  11. Giving just because it is Christmas and you are supposed to do so loses some of its meaning. I remember when I was a child I often got gifts I didn't want and didn't get what I requested ( like a cowgirl outfit which I never received). It is better to give a child a couple things on his/her list than things you think they "should" like, I think. Perhaps the children could let you know what they really really want out of all the things they have listed.

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  12. I'm just figuring out the parent at Christmas game. While our means right now keep things really very simple at some point it will hopefully change, and then we'll have to do the balancing act.

    Love the Christmas Change blog.

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  13. We've gotten our son involved in our plans this year for adopting a local needy family for Christmas. He's really been enjoying picking out gifts and wrapping them because he knows he's helping someone who may not otherwise get Christmas presents. I think this makes him so much more grateful for what he has too!

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  14. The lists are so great. We try and keep it simple at Christmas too, for the same reasons. Great charity your linked too.

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  15. I have the same memories of a living room full of toys. I told my mom how impressive it all was, and she said they actually didn't spend that much. Like one year they bought me a little tent, which seemed huge to me when I was 6 or 7. They pitched the tent in the living room and put my other gifts in it. I think sometimes what we don't consider a lot seems like a lot to our kids. I remember wanting to stop and play with the toys I'd gotten, but my parents said "wait! You have to open these! And these!" According to the Tightwad Gazette (one of my favorite books), that's a good indicator that you've overbought. We try to keep things under control, but it's hard when I see a bunch of toys Suzi would love. We did find her a big wooden rocking horse at a yard sale for $2 and we're going to clean it up for her, so that's maximum fun for minimum dollars.

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  16. I love their lists! They are so sweet, putting "Best Christmas Ever" on their list.

    We grew up with different Christmas traditions, and are trying to figure out how to mush them together and come up with our own!

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  17. I love his handwriting. And OMG, we're related, that whole "button/on" thing gets me, too. Heh.

    As far as gifts, we do "needs" and I wrap them - underwear, socks, shampoo, new toothbrushes, etc. Also, we love arts and crafts, so i get coloring books, crayons, markers, pencils, and wrap it. In fact, I wrap every little thing so, even if it isn't much, it's still a lot to unwrap.

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  18. I can't wait until my boys are old enough to 'write' their own lists of what they want! So cute, I love seeing spelling mistakes and the little handwriting! I truly am just happy enough with my family. I don't 'need' anything...but sure, I have a 'want' list - mostly all stuff that is not affordable right now!

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  19. Isaac drew his list this year, and on it was another BABY BROTHER. Oh Mercy to Goodness.

    THank you for this post, sweet friend.

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  20. I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one who does a very simple Christmas. Even if our budget allowed for it, I really like that we focus on giving to others and making our friends and family gifts.

    There will be 1 or 2 gifts under the tree and a couple more in their stockings. We spent $50 total.

    I struggle with the husband/wife gifts. There are very few times a year that my husband buys things for me and I truly appreciate the thought and effort he puts into it. We talk about not doing gifts for each other, but I'd really really miss it.

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  21. That handwriting is entirely too sweet.

    I love that Carter wants an iPhone. Me too buddy, me too.

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  22. such cute lists. Gray wants the thing he's allergic to, a dog. I'm glad you have good memories of Christmas past.

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  23. We have a simpler traditional Christmas, right now we are still in Advent & so we don't really feel pressure to rush into Christmas. I'm also impressed your tree only has been knocked once, our tree won't go up for 2 more weeks (it stays up until the Epiphany), but I don't look forward to keeping D-man from it.

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  24. Love this post.
    My husband and I only get a couple to 3 gifts for the the girls each year. My oldest doesnt even complain, she loves her gifts, and plays with them all year. In their stockings I put little notes about my love for them, and how I am happy to spend another christmas with them, she loves that as well.

    I do think it's the simple things that mean the most, and not the cost or quantity.

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  25. I normally irresponsibly spend way more than I should. I refuse to do that this year. Save money and pay off credit cards seems more essential than toys that never get touched.

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  26. I had a Little's doll house too and I loved it! : )

    I think alot of people are scaling back this year and just in general. It's time to cherish our loved ones and the real reason for the season.

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  27. I think it is cute that the iPhone is on their Christmas list! :)

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  28. Steph - sometimes I feel like you're writing from my head. We also cannot responsibly afford to give much to the kids (I love how you put that, such perfect words), but I know that they will enjoy whatever we put under the tree. And we're trying to teach them about how it's about more, but sometimes I fight with myself so much because we can't give them everything they ever want. But I never had everything, and I think I turned out better for it.

    Anyway, I think you're doing a fantastic job. I'm so glad to be able to read what you put out :)

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  29. In years past we did a few nice gifts and then tried to "fill in" the rest with stuff. And that's all it really was, just stuff. We're starting a new tradition this year. 3 gifts per child. My oldest is 5, so it's an easy change to make since she really hasn't formed any expectations. Why 3? Jesus only got 3 gifts and by golly, you're not better than Jesus! We also really try to focus on Jesus' b-day in general around here and since he had such a humble beginning it makes it easy to keep things simple and full of loving traditions instead of stuff. And the grandparents always give WAY too much, so I don't feel the need to overindulge my children. Nice to hear someone else is doing the same! Thanks for such a great blog. -Emily

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  30. We don't really buy our little boy much for birthday/Christmas either - he has plenty of grandparents/aunts/great-grandparents who shower him with excess, that we don't feel the need. :)

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  31. what a nice post and I agree they dont need a house full of toys we prefer give him something small which he'll appreciate :) though being our first christmas with him we did wish to spoil him a little more (but didn't) will give something to the local orphanage instead..he's trying t dismantle the tree too and the crib!

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  32. We really wanted our children to know that Christmas was about the celebration of the birth of Jesus... and about the gift that he is to us. Easy enough to say when you live in a wildly materialistic world... One granny who measures love by volume of gifts, (she starts shopping for next year on Dec26th) one year she bought more gifts than my kids could open!!! And another granny who measures love buy how much the gift costs... either way these are not values we want impart to our kids!!! So we see one granny on each side of Christmas day - we want them to love and adore their grannies!!! On the day our kids get a book and a stocking with a couple of consumable treats ... we play games and read and do a family project together - we all enjoy a really quiet day spending TIME together...

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  33. I love the boys' Christmas lists, especially 2: "Best Christmas Ever" -- awwww!

    My parent's did HUGE Christmases for my siblings & I when we were growing up, and it was the same in my husband's family. Mountains of packages under the tree. It's hard knowing that we CAN'T do the same for my son, even if we wanted to. We just can't manage anything even remotely like that. But I'm coming to terms with that, and beginning to see it as a blessing in disguise. I'm looking forward to making a simpler, meaningful Christmas our new family tradition. I love the way you put it...having the room filled with FAMILY is so much more meaningful than it being filled with gift-wrapped packages. Now, if I could only convince both sets of grandparents to tone down on the deluge of gifts...

    Ack! I left a novel of a comment...sorry about that!

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  34. We don't exchange either. We do our stockings, though. We can't afford a lot of gifts for the children, but I actually prefer it that way. I do have some fond memories of lots of toys (mostly my Grandma's toy buckets were the best!) but I remember the traditions, the time spent, the movies, the lights and so forth. That is what I hope my kids will remember, and not that they never got many toys. :(

    Nell

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  35. I just have to say that I love the way you worded "responsibly afford". This is the first Christmas where we aren't charging ANYTHING. It's for sure going to mean less toys for each of the girls (waaaay less) but I'm actually glad. In past years our oldest has grown tired of opening gift after gift & it all seemed so....excessive. This year we are getting each girl one gift from us and one gift from Santa. I'm looking @ consignment stores to get them just the right thing but at a lesser cost. I'm hoping less gifts means more focus on the real meaning of Christmas!

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  36. Those lists are precious! My 3 year old can't write but she sais she wanted a real computer too. And then very clearly said not one from the toy section. Oh Boy! Maybe she wants to be too much like mommy!

    Amber - we are due with a baby girl in January and Sophia said I should put Baby Brother on the list for my son Miles so he would have a someone too. Awww! Too bad we are done!

    We don't do a lot for Hannukah / Christmas (interfaith marriage) but we do small gifts after the lighting of the candles (not all toys at all - a crad, something handmade and some little toys) and then one gift on Christmas. We also go shopping for gifts for kids the same ages as Sophia and Miles for the angel tree here in Charlotte. Sophia loves this!

    What a cute post!

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  37. Responsibly Spend. That's been my mantra the last few years. And, like you, each year we've been getting simpler and simpler at Christmas.

    It's been such a good thing for our family as well.

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  38. Good for you. I love simple Christmas in our material culture. Your post has that song in my head..."'tis a gift to be simple 'tis a gift to be free..."

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  39. We have very similar gift-giving philosophies. Our girls are still young so we opt for very simple gifts - a pair of pajamas, new paints, a new book, that kind of thing. :)

    Also: Tim and I never buy gifts for each other either. Some of our friends think we're crazy, but we like it that way. Just having each other is "present" enough. More than enough.

    stephanie@metropolitanmama.net

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