Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The things you do At Christmas.

Thanks to the wonderful world of instagram, blogs, facebook--you know, we get to be all up in each others business all the time. We get a tiny glimpse (remember, people-a glimpse!!!!!!! If I could use more exclamations to drive this point home, I would) into other peoples lives and stuff. Heck, I know it gives people a peek into mine.


Around this time of year, though--I can definitely pick up bits and pieces about the way people celebrate the holidays. The special things they do with their families, the normal or strange traditions. The moms who are obsessed with matching christmas jams (tiny bit guilty), the crazy (just kidding. i love you.) elf on a shelf people. The ones who detest santa. The ones who love him. The ones who focus on Jesus. The ones who celebrate advent. The ones who love to bake. The ones who'd rather buy a batch of pillsbury christmas tree sugar cookies (guilty) from the store.

It's actually kind of interesting. And special. I love that everyone, each family, has their thing and way they celebrate. I don't judge the elf on a shelf people (hiiii! there are a lot of you), just because I find him a tad bit creepy and it's something we don't do. I just don't tend to be about the whole, someone is watching you, so be on best behavior -thing. In fact, the other day (getting ready to tell on myself)- for the first time ever, I said something about telling Santa that she hadn't been listening. IMMEDIATELY I FELT GROSS. That is not my style, and yet, in a moment of, OhmygoshIneedHELP I pulled the Santa card? No. I won't be doing that again. That's not my preferred way to parent.

Speaking of Santa--here's how we choose to handle that as a family.

We are very Santa-light. He's not our focus, not at all, but we do a little Santa on the side and I think our balance so far is ok. It's very important to us that we focus on Jesus' birth and I'm really grateful that she gets that. If we ask her why we celebrate Christmas, she will always mention something about Jesus, his birthday, we celebrate when he was born, etc. For years, we didn't have to 'do' anything Santa, because, um, she was a baby. Or a small toddler who didn't care. I never put her on Santa's lap for the sake of a picture--why? Because it wasn't a preference of mine. I just didn't care. (I do love to laugh at all your screaming-with-terror pics with Santa, though--just saying.)

But this year, for the first time--she asked.

So, we let her.


It was fine, and she enjoyed it. Santa was pleasant--asked her what she wanted for Christmas. She told him, then he said, "anything else little girl?" 

This is when she adamantly told him, "No, Santa. My mom and dad told me to ask for JUST ONE PRESENT." 

Which leads me to this:

Santa brings just one gift in our little family. Declan and I decided this was a compromise. There's a part of me that could just not do Santa at all and be fine with it. But I do think there's a part of it's that fun and imaginative, and, how is it different than the friggin' tooth fairy, I mean-really. It's not.

Santa is a cool guy and all-but, he just gets the credit for one gift (the one she reeeeeally wants, which, I think is nice of me....ok?), and then mom and dad get the credit for the rest and, maybe I'm selfish, but whatever.

I think it's possible to Do Santa and Celebrate Jesus, too. They do not have to be mutually exclusive. I also think every family has to choose what balance works for them, and that's cool, too.

Let's talk stockings.

My husband brought the tradition of EVERY TINY LITTLE GIFT IS WRAPPED in the stocking to this family. It is one he will not compromise on. (Thank you to my mother-in-law for this, ha. Hiiii! She reads.) When I am up wrapping every tiny little gosh darn thing, feeling rage in my bones, crumpling up more tape, and getting sick of cutting tiny little bits of wrapping paper, I hate this tradition with a passion.

However.
Katie-throwback. Christmas morning.
Obviously my mom didn't like Christmas pjs.
THAT or by the 3rd kid you just don't care. 

When it's my turn to open my stocking? I LOVE IT.

Because it IS fun to unwrap every little thing. Even if it is just a chapstick.

Also. Stockings come from one another, not Santa (does Santa ever do stockings? I'm not really up on my Santa FAQ) Declan and I do each others, and then together we do the kids. It's kinda fun.

Christmas Eve is reserved for Declan's family. It's always been our special time to celebrate, eat dinner together, sing carols, read the Christmas story, and then open gifts by the light of the tree. I love having a Christmas Eve tradition and think it's really special that my kids get to experience this.

The first few hours of Christmas morning is just us. Here, at home. Making our own little memories and experiencing the joy with just the four of us. We make cinnamon rolls and coffee, and open gifts and play. Then we head over to my parents late morning and do the same thing there, all together, with all my siblings and the kids. It's a chaotic, fun, crazy blast.

***

Tell me about your Christmas do's and don'ts. Are you stocking stuffer wrappers, too? Elf-on-a-shelf'ers? Santa-believers? You know the drill.



34 comments:

  1. I love this. I love catching glimpses of other families traditions.
    We don't do Elf on the Shelf because this mama is TIRED and does not want to invest that kind of energy into but I don't knock those that do. I laugh at and enjoy some of the photos I see.
    We are also verrrry light on the Santa. We never use the naughty or nice bit simply because I want Christmas to be magical and fun. We make sure to discuss frequently (can't say daily because it would be a lie) that we celebrate that Jesus came to earth at Christmas to show us God's love and allow us to one day live in Heaven again. They know Jesus died on the cross for us but they are 5 and 2 so we keep it simple.
    We are building our traditions as we go and starting this year we have made the choice to keep Christmas as a whole very simple. We will give our kids 3 gifts on Christmas Eve (like the 3 wise men each bring a gift) one gift is a toy or something awesome they want, second gift is a new outfit and the third gift is a new book for their bedroom libraries. Santa brings them one gift on Christmas morning. This is something they want but not the most awesome gift (Daddy & Mommy are selfish and want that acknowledgement) and Mommy and Daddy give them a stocking with a few small things i.e. coloring book, colors, chap stick, 1 candy, etc. and we do not wrap each thing in it on Christmas morning as well. It might be fun to open but I just cannot bring myself to do that.
    Since we live in the same town (within 15 minutes) of all our immediate family on both sides, we chose to reserve Christmas Eve and Christmas morning as our little family time and then we all get together for a Christmas lunch or early dinner that is potluck and typically I host it.

    Hoping that you have a wonderful Christmas season.

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  2. I adore you. I love this post. I recently wrote a post similar to this too. We have opted out of Santa. We were initially "santa light" like you, but just decided to nix it completely. (Our daughter is 3). We're not anti-dude in the red suit by any means, same with the wee little elf, we just aren't doing it.

    I think your Christmas traditions sound lovely :)

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  3. I LOVE this post for so many reasons! We are elf on the shelters but not in the "he a watching you way" more in the fun count down to Christmas Day kinda thing! She just likes finding her! Our stocking stuff is always wrapped i love opening them too! Our Santa brings the big present then the rest from mom and dad! It's fun to see everyone else's Christmas traditions with out the judgies :-)

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  4. I love looking at Christmas pics and taking a a glimpse of everyone's life on Instagram too..
    OMG , wrapping every small thing, nice but a little time consuming tradition.. I wish I could get everything so nicely packed.. :)
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  5. I also adore this post. It is so refreshing to see every family and tradition is different. Thoughts, processes the fun of it all. We do Santa and Santa does stockings and a gift. Mom and dad do the rest. We have very very kindly asked that Santa ONLY come to the girls homes and not everywhere they go since um, Christmas to us is about Christ and Jesus' birth and not exclusively Santa. We do Christmas Eve service, previously always midnight but this year with a toddler most likely the earlier version then we have a nice Christmas Eve dinner followed by a gift box of goodies and staying up late as our little family and celebrating - watching movies, wearing our new PJs and drinking hot cocoa. Christmas morning is just our family and then we go somewhere or others come over (we rotate) then if we are LUCKY and we have snow. Christmas night is for sledding. I grew up in teh NORTH way NORTH adn you HAVE TO SLED ON CHRISTMAS NIGHT. no matter what. I love being able to start these new traditions and carry on traditions from our families combined. It is so rewarding to see the children know and expect certain things and come to love it. I love this time of year. Not for the gifts but for the memories, quality time together and for the giving. Merry Christmas to you! and your family!

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  6. We do elf on the shelf, but only for the fun part of finding him each morning. I once told him that he was watching him to make sure he ate his supper (to which he replied, "umm.. he isn't even looking at my plate" awesome.) and felt guilty about that. I'm like you.. not my way to parent! We do Santa to the extent of they take a picture with him, we leave him cookies and he leaves a few presents. I honestly don't remember talking about Jesus at all during Christmas growing up and I am trying to find that balance with my kids. We are going to have the tradition of reading the story of Jesus' birth on Christmas Eve and make sure we talk about giving as much as we do receiving (which hopefully we will model so much throughout the year that it will just be a given???!!). More than anything I just love the coziness of Christmas. Twinkly lights on a christmas tree, christmas movie/cuddle sessions, viewing christmas lights with our whole family. All of the traditions that come with this time of year. Those are my favorite!

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  7. I kinda wrote a post about this well our traditions. I know it's not your intent at all with this post but I kinda feel guilty about the elf and being Santa heavy. For a 2.5 year old I struggle with fitting the Jesus in. I guess maybe the countdown can be for Jesus' birthday instead of Santa coming.

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  8. Thanks for this post! I love reason about what other people do. My mom purchased elf on the shelf this year and I honestly don't like it. I didn't realize what it was about until I read the book. I think the elf is cute though and if we do it next year, it will just be to find it in the morning. We do Jingle the Husky Pup every year though. He comes out December first and Phoebe enjoys him until we take down all of our Christmas stuff. I think I'll do advent next year. Phoebe is just not into Christmas. She doesn't care about Santa yet and doesn't really want to listen about the birth of Jesus. However, I will balance the two ideas. I like Santa giving one big gift and everything else from us or other family. My church does a night in Bethlehem some years where everyone dresses up and they do a birth of Jesus play. It's nice. Stockings are from Santa. That's how we always did it. Wrapping them all? Not this girl. That sounds fun, but I would be cursing the tape. lol.

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  9. We chatted about this a bit already. My mom always wrapped every single teenie tiny thing in the stockings too and I love it and never thought it would be done any other way until I had Christmas at Jimmy's mom and the stuff was just thrown in the stocking. I kinda love having all wrapped b/c just when you're a tad bit bummed that all the presents have been opened it's like SURPRISE! NO it's not there are stockings!! LOL.
    We always spend Christmas Eve at my aunt's house with my family and we love it so much. My family is small and a lot more quiet than Jimmy's so it's nice to have that calm before the storm that is Christmas day with The Dews.
    We are elf on the shelfers only because I think it's fun to have a surprise for her {and eventually James}, I like the magic of the season, elves included.
    We do Santa but I'm not sure to what degree. We talk about him, she sat on his lap, we wrote him a letter and she talks about how HE is going to bring her most wanted gift. BUT we have explained Jesus to her and if you ask her why we do Christmas or what it's about she'll say "because Jesus was born! to celebrate Jesus's birthday!". Do you guys do the birthday cake for Jesus? I thought I saw that on your blog in a Christmas past. I think I love that idea and might adopt it this year.

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  10. I didn't read the comments, so somebody may have already touched on this, but the real life St. Nicholas used to put small gifts into children's shoes that were left outside for the night, which is sort of how the whole Santa thing came about, and also why a lot of people do the stockings from Santa. But I think now that's probably mostly obscure info that only crazy nerds like myself know, so I vote that it's all good either way ;) We do the same thing with one gift from Santa, and then we give the kids something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.

    People always think I'm crazy when I say that my favorite tradition is going out to a fancy dinner on Christmas Eve. It is my whole side of the family--grandma, parents, whichever aunts and uncles are in town, my siblings, and our little family, and we've gone to the same restaurant for the past 15 or 18 years now! We all get fancy dress/suit and tie dressed up, and go ALL OUT. Drinks, apps, dinner, dessert...it's like a three hour meal. It's literally the one time a year that our family does a fancy meal out like that (and usually the one time a year I buy a fancy dress), and so it's really special and a lot of fun. I remember going as a kid, and it just seeming so magical...everyone managed to get along, have a great dinner, conversation, and there was just this *anticipation* of what was to come. The only bummer about it is that dinner often takes so long that we usually miss the candle-light Christmas Eve service...which I would like to go to, but honestly, we're at church like twice or three times a week every other week of the year, it won't kill us to miss it ;)

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  11. I didn't read the comments, so somebody may have already touched on this, but the real life St. Nicholas used to put small gifts into children's shoes that were left outside for the night, which is sort of how the whole Santa thing came about, and also why a lot of people do the stockings from Santa. But I think now that's probably mostly obscure info that only crazy nerds like myself know, so I vote that it's all good either way ;) We do the same thing with one gift from Santa, and then we give the kids something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.

    People always think I'm crazy when I say that my favorite tradition is going out to a fancy dinner on Christmas Eve. It is my whole side of the family--grandma, parents, whichever aunts and uncles are in town, my siblings, and our little family, and we've gone to the same restaurant for the past 15 or 18 years now! We all get fancy dress/suit and tie dressed up, and go ALL OUT. Drinks, apps, dinner, dessert...it's like a three hour meal. It's literally the one time a year that our family does a fancy meal out like that (and usually the one time a year I buy a fancy dress), and so it's really special and a lot of fun. I remember going as a kid, and it just seeming so magical...everyone managed to get along, have a great dinner, conversation, and there was just this *anticipation* of what was to come. The only bummer about it is that dinner often takes so long that we usually miss the candle-light Christmas Eve service...which I would like to go to, but honestly, we're at church like twice or three times a week every other week of the year, it won't kill us to miss it ;)

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  12. Oh goodness, wrapping everything in the stocking? Holy wrapping paper Batman! Growing up, we got little treats in the stockings and there were always peanuts and an orange at the bottom. Don't get that one but it was always there.

    In the past few years, with marriages and deaths in the family, our traditions have changed. We are hosting Christmas for the extended family on Christmas Eve and we'll see how things goes. Things change but being with family is the most important part of our tradition.

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  13. Hi Katie! This is such a nice post, and I think it's so much fun to see how every family chooses to celebrate. Our family does both Santa and Jesus. We actually have several books that have both Santa and Jesus in them, so the two aren't mutually exclusive. In our family, Santa brings the stockings and a gift and only some of the stocking items are wrapped, so it's a mix. We haven't decided what we will do about the elf on the shelf. The part of me that is creative and wants to create magic in my kid life says to do it, the other side of me says whoa-creepy-doll-that-is-stocking-my-kids get out of my house. I have seen some alternatives like kindness elves, which move around every night and suggests random acts of kindness for the kids to do more appealing. But my little lovey is really too young to get the concept of magical elves right now so it's really not an issue this year. I love Christmas time, I love the decorating, I love the lights, I love singing carols, I love that it's okay to slow down and just enjoy life for awhile, even in the craziness. This was a great post Katie, thanks for sharing!

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  14. I always just got 1 present from Santa every year as a kid and it was always unwrapped!

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  15. Really liked this post. I recently asked my husband if we were doing Santa? As in, do we need to get presents that will be from Santa this year? My daughter is two and taking it all in and I just thought, if we are doing it, then we should start...not in a major way, but just make sure that something is from Santa (inevitably our family will mention it anyways). He said sure, but we decided that Santa doesn't get the big gift, or the gift they really want. WE want credit for THAT!!! LOL. So you're not as selfish as we are I guess! I don't want to overdo the Santa thing, but I think it's hard to nix completely. As for elf on a shelf, my MIL got us one when my daughter was born (I dunno why, babies don't get it, but whatever), but we've decided not to do it. We would rather continue using our regular methods of controlling behavior instead of that...because really, she's going to get all the presents!! Haha. Also, we both think he's creepy too!

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  16. My kids are teenagers now, and both my husband and I grew up with Santa being pretty light. He brought us small fun things. We did the same for our kids. Of course, when they were little and really "believed" in Santa, he would bring one toy that they actually asked for. Otherwise, it was always simple things, coloring book and crayons, Play-Doh. Now my daughter likes for Santa to give her a Starbucks card and a new coffee mug! Santa never got the credit for the big gift, that's for sure!

    ps; Katie, they also have fleece-lined tights which I love just as much as the leggings!

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  17. Love this post and love learning about what everyone else does.. It's a little different for us this year with the divorce and all.. sadly my girls won't be here on christmas... not even sure when i will celebrate with them yet .. so it is kind of a sad year... but we do do Elf On The Shelf... but only for the fun of it... they love finding him every morning and if he moves during the day, they talk about him all the time and just things its so cool. We bake cookies together and decorate, we try do christmas projects, we do breakfast with santa, always do christmas picture with santa.. :) so much fun the holidays are.

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  18. Oh this post made me laugh. You are so funny... I totally think Elf on the Shelf is a bit creepy however my SNL do it for my neice and I like seeing how creative people get with it. I love Christmas time and I LOVE the fact that you focus more on Jesus than Santa. It ssad to say some kids don't even know the true meaning of Christmas they think Santa is just suppose to bring them toys because they deserve them.. Great post girl... :)

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  19. My family isn't big on Christmas/Traditions, so I have to live vicariously through other's photos/blog posts. I loved hearing about yours!

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  20. Santa light...I love it. Clearly with my pregnancy sickies I haven't been into ANYTHING this christmas...I want parker to know Santa because I don't want her to be that kid who ruins it for her classmates. But yeah, i'm still clueless as to how we'll introduce him.

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  21. Oh my goodness, weren't you darling! I am guilty of bringing forth the wrapping of every little thing in the stocking to our family. My mom was sick a lot when we were growing up and I was the oldest so I tried to make Christmas as special as I could for my sisters and kids love to unwrap everything! The most important "tradition" in our house is being with family, you just never know what life will throw you and being together and making memories is our top priority. Unfortunately we don't have any family close by so we pack up and travel to them for the week. Our daughter is only 10 months so we don't have to worry about Santa just yet, I like your idea of one gift and I think that's what we will do. I do remember how magical it was believing in Santa when I was a little girl and want that for my daughter (in moderation). This year I'm making homemade gingerbread houses and we will let all the kids decorate their own one day and then the big kids (my sisters, husband, and I) will have a little grownup cocktail/gingerbread decorating party. We also go to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, it's my favorite. I hope the Balla Family has a wonderful Christmas and peace, health and happiness in the New Year!

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  22. I totally love Elf on the Shelf. Last year, he just moved around our house but this year I am having so.much.fun getting creative with him, which is ironic because as you know, that's not usually me. I think the boys' excitement each morning is why I love it. Besides that, we are kind of Christmas twinsies. I think this year, Santa is going to bring three gifts just like Jesus got. The rest of the odds and ends will be from us. And we have almost matching Christmas Eve/morning/day events. I love love love Christmas.

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  23. This post is so interesting! I agree, it's fun to take a peek at other families' traditions.
    We celebrate secular, "cultural Christmas", so in our house, Santa is HUGE. Santa definitely does the (wrapped) stockings. Each family member does one gift, but Santa does the rest. My daughter is only 19 mo, but she's walking around saying, "Ho Ho Ho! Toys?" Ha! For us it's all about the imagination of the season, though when she's older, of course we'll teach her about why Christians celebrate Christmas (just as we'll teach her why Jews celebrate Hanukkah). In our house, though, we stick to Santa.
    We bake cut sugar cookies. We do gingerbread houses. We eat lasagna on Christmas Eve. We do Christmas jams all December long. When she's old enought, we'll do the Nutcracker every year. We do gifts from the giving tree. We watch Elf, Home Alone, White Christmas, and we keep the tv on in the background for 24 hours of a Christmas Story. We listen to Nat King Cole while we open presents, then we eat monkey bread for breakfast.
    I love our Christmas, and I wouldn't change a thing about it!

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  24. Love this post, Katie. Little glimpses in are always fun! I definitely want to try to focus on Jesus at Christmas, but it is so, so hard with the way things are going on around us. I mean, everyone wants to buy everything for my kid and I can't stop that! :) But as our little man gets older we will try to keep things centered around the real meaning of Christmas at home anyways. I guess that's all we can control!

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  25. We do Santa and Jesus....and the Elf. But, my husband actually had an Elf when he was little 30-some years ago. I guess it is an old European tradition. So - when I was pregnant with my son (he is now 4), my MIL gave us my husband's Elf. Our Elf does not do a lot. He moves from place to place, but does not partake in any Pinterest worthy activities. I go overboard with gifts from Santa and us, but I think I am going to do just one gift from Santa next year and a few from us. God willing we will have another little one next year, so, yes, my one and only son right now is getting LOTS under the tree, but if there is another little one we will have to cut back on the gifts. My parents always wrapped our stocking presents (from Santa) and my mother-in-law did not wrap. But - we wrap them.

    One of my favorite traditions is that we read the story "Santa and the Dumdiddy" It is a story that came out in a newspaper in the early 1950s. One "chapter" would come out a day in December and the last edition would be on Christmas eve. My grandmother read it to my mom and uncles; my mom read it to my brother and me; and now for the first time this year, I am reading it to my son. It is a cute story about a selfish little boy and his adventures to find that Christmas is more about giving than getting. (the Dumdiddy is a little clay character that the boy's sister made to give to Santa. The boy wanted to run away and took the Dumdiddy. Santa made the Dumdiddy come to life to help/watch-over the little boy during his trials/tribulations. Sounds silly, but it is really cute.)

    My mother and I always go shopping for a few families through the Salvation Army. And my husband/son/I pick a few names from the Angel Tree at church and shop for them together as a family. This year we will change things up a bit and celebrate Christmas with my family the weekend before Christmas and then (for the first time!) I am hosting my in-laws for Christmas dinner! Christmas morning my husband, my son and I will have egg/cheese/bread dish (make the night before and cook for one hour in the morning). We had this growing up and it is something that I have continued to make. It is really neat to bring in old traditions into your family while making new traditions of your very own.

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  26. We are VERY similar with how we celebrate. No elf on the shelf, we do santa lightly and don't use the "he's watching you" card. We don't go big on gifts either and get each boy 3 things each (this year their main gift is a trip to great wolf lodge- been there before though so we know what we are getting into!)

    Christmas Eve is for my dad's side of the family, Christmas day is my mom's side, and then usually a week or two later we travel to visit Marcus' family.

    I didn't grow up knowing the word "advent"- maybe because we are nondenominational Christian? Is it used more in denominations, Catholic or Methodist? Or maybe they used that word a lot when I was a kid and I didn't pay attention haha. But I looked it up this year and was like "oh, that's what advent means" and meant to do something this year to "celebrate" it but haven't. We always focus on Jesus but just never used the word advent. I bought a "Jesus Storybook Bible" meaning to read a little to the boys each night and I keep forgetting. Not too late- need to get that out. What specifically do you do to celebrate advent?

    Pic of you as a girl is adorable. And the new one with the hat :)

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  27. We have yet to establish some good Christmas traditions but that will change next year when we are back in our house. Growing up, Santa was kind of a big deal but we always new Jesus was the reason we celebrated Christmas. We almost always went to or participated in the Christmas program at church. We celebrated with my Dad's side of the family on Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning we would see what Santa brought and go through our stockings (our stocking stuffers weren't wrapped) before heading out to celebrate with my Mom's side of the family.

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  28. We have yet to establish really solid traditions now that we are parents. We do the whole tree/stockings/cookies bit. We do Santa but if you ask D why Santa brings presents he says "to celebrate baby Jesus birthday" - I may have kind of combined the stories? I mean I didn't put Santa into Jesus's story but I put Jesus into Santa's. "Baby Jesus was just so special that Santa brings gifts to remind us how special Jesus is." That type of thing.

    We don't do the elf. #1 The more I learn about it, the more it gives me heebie jeebies. #2 I am wayyy too lazy forgetful for that. We do celebrate advent.

    I wish we had regular "Christmas Eve... Christmas morning.. Christmas night" traditions but being so far away from family makes that hard. We just roll w/ it all at this point. I do like Christmas Eve church though so hopefully we'll make that happen this year :)

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  29. I really REALLY like how you guys handle Santa and Jesus. and yes, I'm with D, everything in the stocking (even the awkward toothbrush that is so hard to wrap) has to be wrapped!

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  30. I've been a pastors daughter for all except 1.75 years of my life so Santa we didn't do it. We do have small stockings that sometimes get filled depending on my Mum but its not a tradition as such and we all know that the gifts are from her and my Dad. Present wise from my parents we get one 'big' thing we want (this year I am getting a set of 3 silver stacking rings) and a 'small' thing we want (CD, iTunes card ect) plus a few suprises. We have so much stuff that my parents will often buy us a few useful things like nail polish, hair clips and what not. We also always get a lolly stocking its a major tradition that has been going on for years now and Mum buys them as soon as they are out in stores and puts them away.
    My 2 sisters and I always buy gifts for each other and our parents as well which is nice but our budget is $10-$15 per person depending on how much we have put away.
    The weeks leading up to Christmas are always crazy, with church things ect. Christmas day we open gifts, get dressed up and go to church most of us forget to get breakfast too :) We also pray for those who have given us gifts but are unable to be here with us asmy Dad's family lives in another state so we post gifts to them. Christmas lunch is reserved for my Mum's family. We used to buy gifts for everyone, but now we do a secret santa where we each buy a gift up to the value of $20 for someone which is fun.

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  31. I LOVE this!! We don't "do" elf on the shelf or Santa. We are not ANTI Santa, Mia knows his name and what he looks like (because of TV, I guess) but not what he "does." I love seeing everyone's traditions as well!!

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  32. We are cookie-baking, Santa-loving, elf-shelving, Advent-calendaring and wreathing, Baby Jesus-loving, Christmas written EVERYWHERE kinda people. And my husband is a little crazy about the stockings and is totally in charge of those. And my oldest is already "in the know" about Santa so he is our little elf and helper. :) I love this time of year. "Santa light", that is so cute. :)

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  33. I love this post. We do Elf on the Shelf, but ours is lame and just moves from place to place. I can't make it work in my mind that he's supposed to tell on my kids but he can do things that would get them in trouble. So he just moves. We do Santa - but he brings 3 gifts (like Jesus got from the Wise Men) and a stocking. We do the rest, and it's not much. Each brother gives the other a gift. I try to follow "Something they want, something they need, something to do, something to read." As an example Santa brought my oldest a guitar (something he wanted), a duffle bag (something he needed), a membership to a museum (stocking stuffer...something to do), and books (something to read). My husband and I gave him two ornaments (I do something sentimental/a keepsake each year) and a puzzle game. His brother gave him a bow and arrow he'd wanted. Our dog brings a DVD. And that's it. I started feeling like it was a lot but then I got on Instagram and HOLY COW. Santa brings the entire store to some kids. It's unbelievable. We do celebrate Advent but because we're in house limbo this year (we're selling one and have moved out of town to a rental) all our stuff is packed so we just did Advent at church.

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