No More Santa – Yahoo or Boohoo?

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Thank the good Lord above my boys weren’t littles when Elf on the Shelf became a thing! I was doing good to get Christmas cards out back then.

We had other traditions, though, that were more suitable for younger children.. Cookies for Santa, the Christmas train at the mall, pictures with Santa, and on and on. No wonder we get so tired this time of year… (And no more Christmas cards, except for the folks who don’t get on the “interwebs”!)

Now that they are older, there is no way my strapping big fellas will sit on Santa’s lap or fit in that small choo choo. There are a few we will always keep until my sons no longer reside in my home – a birthday cake for Jesus, new clothes on Christmas Eve, the candlelight service at church.

So what are some traditions you have picked up in the latter years of parenting? Here are a few to consider:

Volunteering – there are many options around the holidays! We have passed out gifts at our church’s “Christmas Store” for the needy, we have served meals at a soup kitchen, and we love to pick a child off of a Salvation Army’s angel tree. The older your kids are the more they have the ability to understand that it isn’t all about what they can get.

Give experiences instead of things. What is something in your budget that you can gift to your children? A trip to the Nutcracker ballet? Mother/Daughter spa day? NBA or NFL tickets? A trip to somewhere fun next spring break?

⁃ If you can get away with it, both financially and with family, get away! Minimum decorating and baking necessary.

Make it a more meaningful holiday. Pare down the gifts and focus on the Reason. Sing in the church’s choir for the Christmas pageant, read an advent devotional together, attend one more service than you might normally, or even go to a different denomination’s service, to see it through fresh eyes.

⁃ If your kids are fortunate enough to have grandparents still alive, make a video of them answering questions about their lives to keep as precious memories. Share them with everyone in the family!

⁃ If your children are old enough to have new children of their own or just started a new career and moved into a new place, buy them services. Housekeeper, massages, car wash services, zoo or museum memberships. Those days are exhausting and money is usually tight.

Those are a few of my suggestions. Let me know if you have more!

Sometimes we need help planning for the holidays – here are some tips from a fellow writer on how to calm the chaos this time of year:

And, finally, some words that may be helpful if your holidays are hard this year come from my fellow hope*writer on Instagram, @kristinvanderlip.

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December 1st. It's my daughter's 10th birthday and, this year, it's the first day of Advent. This is a gift within a gift within a gift. . For some reason her 10th birthday is one of the hardest. The grief is heavy and dark. It hurts. I feel the weight of having lived ten years without her. Ten years of unknowns and missing memories. The ten year challenge taking over social media last week almost did me in because my 10 years ago looked like me blissfully happy and pregnant with my daughter and my now looks like a mother without her child. I'm reminded of my empty arms. . It's every mother's worst nightmare. And yes, the agony of losing a child is unbearable. But I bore it (and continue to each day) by the grace of God. The grief sweeps in a disorienting darkness that comes and goes. That covers you like a cloak that whips on and off unpredictably. That leaves you longing and searching for the light. . And that is why this year, with the grief feeling heavier and darker than years past, her birthday falling on the first day of Advent is a grace that causes my heart to overflow with thanks and sweet tears. It is so dark and my soul is grateful for the truth and the reminder that the Light has come. . So for today. I will think of her with love and give thanks for her. And I will weep and know it's okay because I weep in the darkness holding the torch of His light in my heart. . "Maybe death isn't darkness, after all, but so much light wrapping itself around us." Mary Oliver. . . #bereavedmother #griefshare #infantloss #childloss #grievewithhope #grief #lifeafterlosss #christianwomen #christianwriter #hopewriters #remember #advent #holdontohope #hopewhenithurts

A post shared by Kristin Vanderlip (@kristinvanderlip) on

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Later this week I will cheat and post some Instagram photos of my own because — week before Christmas!! Have a wonderful week and remember it doesn’t have to be perfect to be memorable! In fact, the goofs and bloopers make it all the more memorable…

Day to Day Graces

Lover of the daily - my life as told in pictures and words. So much around us is missed because we are too blind to see grace in the everyday. “Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things!” Psalms 119

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