Questions answered about "When we changed the way we do Christmas"

I was SO excited about your response to last week's post about how we cut out excess at Christmas! Six years in and we're still loving how we're doing it.

I received loads of texts, messages, and emails with questions about Santa, Grandparent's gifts, and so much more. I thought I'd share some of them... in case you were wondering, too!

Q: Does Santa still bring gifts for your kids in addition to the Four Gifts?

A: The only gifts Santa brings is what fits inside their stocking.

They do however, receive one (family) present on Christmas eve, which is typically matching PJ's and something to do that night after our church service: board game, movie, that sort of thing!

Q. What do you do about gifts from aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc?

A: This shocks people, but we're very firm with our families on both sides. It has been THE hardest part about making a transition to doing gifts this way. 

We tell our families to please either give a Family Gift (we've gotten things like: a ping pong table, board games, movie tickets in the past) OR one gift per child. ONE.

In the beginning, some family members thought we were being ridiculous so they still gave a massive amount of gifts per kid. We had warned them to please not do this...if they didn't respect our wishes, we would give some of the gifts away. And that's exactly what we did. The kids still opened one...and we donated the rest. They weren't even unwrapped (it would have been tempting to keep them if we had!). Feelings were certainly hurt, but they got the idea we were serious.

It's not always easy...but a lot of parenting isn't. Especially when you're going against cultural norm.

Q. How do you get your older kids on board?

A: It's shocking to see such gross entitlement in our children sometimes, isn't it? Internationally adopted kids are no different...it's crazy how fast they forget about their past life of great need (even just for shoes or food!) and ask, ask, ask for things!

This isn't just a cute little tradition for Christmastime. As parents we need to realize this is an every day of the year kind of counter-cultural decision.

There is no way our older kids will get on board and realize the benefits, reasons, and impact on their own lives if they don't see it played out through the rest of the year. Children should not be given everything they want. We know this in theory, but need to make sure we live it.

When you're out and at Target (for example) and they ask for a random toy you pass, do you purchase it?

I'm not talking about the one they're saving up for...or the one they've been talking about for the past four months and you decide to surprise them with, just because. It's ok to purchase treats for them. But how often do we buy things on a whim, because they're whining or say they "need" it.

One of our kids said he needed pants the other day. When looking in his closet, I found eight pairs of perfectly fine pants that fit him well. He did not need pants. He wanted some. So I obviously said, "no" and told him why. He understood and even chuckled at himself as I pulled each of them out and showed him the large stack!

Helping our children comprehend gift giving as an act of love and not obligation, is huge. This Christmastime Four Gift thing is just a tiny portion of it.

Q: Ok but honestly, do the kids actually like this? Do they wish you did Christmas like everyone else?

What kid doesn't want more gifts? You and I are no different...it's fun receiving things!!

But when the excess gets to the point where you can't remember who gave what gifts, or they have so many presents that they play with something for five minutes before they move on (rarely to touch it again), my question is why?

Why are you doing that to yourself, to them, and to your bank account?

We've been doing this enough years that the kids get excited wondering what one "Want" item they'll get. They try guessing every day and jump up and down with excitement. They know the "Wear" item won't be something boring like underwear or socks (although one of our kids LOVES goofy socks, so they'd be thrilled if we did). We'll purchase a favorite player's jersey, glittery shoes that make the girls squeal, that sort of thing.

It truly helps us know our kids better and what they want more than anything at the moment. What are their greatest loves and interests? What's their favorite book series or what's new by their favorite author? What "Something we'll do" gift would take their breath away with excitement?

They know each of these things is coming and are thrilled with anticipation. So yes. Yes, they truly do love the way we do things.

Yours will too, even if there's complaining the first year or two (and there certainly may be in the beginning).

We don't want to be a "normal" family anyway...let's teach our children that the concept of living out of the ordinary and counter-culturally is absolutely ok.

Q: We're not going to do this, though I think it's cool. Will you be judging me?

A: Ohmygosh are you kidding? No! Of course not!! You may not be doing this exact thing, and that's ok! Don't worry...I'm not going to look at what's under your tree and get all lame and up on my high-horse!

This is meant to be an encouragement to those who are tired of all the excess. That's it. Zero judgements here. Promise.


WHAT OTHER QUESTIONS DO YOU HAVE?? LET ME KNOW!

Want to read the post When we changed the way we do Christmas again? Click here!

Take Joy,

Teresa

P.S. The photos do not show items we're getting the little ones...because I don't want them to accidentally figure any of their gifts out! Just FYI ; )

my FAVORITE end of school tradition

NOTE:

I posted this last year...but it's truly such an end-of-school highlight, I wanted to share it again!

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What we do on the last day of school is hands-down my favorite family tradition.

I'm not sure how many years ago I thought of it (maybe three or four?)...or how it came to be...but as the kids walk home from school, we pelt them with water balloons.

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Those of us who are home wait outside, all sweet and unassuming.

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Maybe even hide behind bushes or trees.

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And POW! A full on war breaks out.

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Since we have kids at three different schools, this fun battle happens a few times, depending on when their last day is.

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It's kind of like a Jack-in-the-Box. You know it's coming...but it still gets ya every time.

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Every year I struggle actually making the water balloons though.

I prefer getting the biodegradable ones, but they're so thin, they snap and break faster than I can fill them.

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Ben though, found these on Kickstarter awhile back and hallelujah they came in the mail just in time for our yearly water balloon fight!!

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Can you see how cool this is?! The balloons are all attached to a thin plastic straw and you just screw the end into the hose. Once the balloons are filled, they simply pop off the straw and are all ready to go!

(and yep...still biodegradable!)

Amazing. I hope these people are making millions.

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Do you have a favorite end of school tradition at your house?!

If not...you're welcome to steal ours!!

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Take Joy,

Teresa