You might think that since we are Christian (I hate that word for some reason, it is way too generic and it encompasses a lot of people that I don’t think follow the Christ of the Bible), we would be all about Christmas. And in a spiritual way, of course we are. We celebrate thankfully that God provided a very difficult and painful sacrifice on our behalf so that we don’t have to try and earn our way into heaven (SO thankful, cause I’ve done a ton of things that I know disqualified me, especially in college…). That’s kind of a thing we do in our hearts and that we’ll talk to our kids about in more detail when they are old enough to understand. But we don’t celebrate standard religious institutional traditions, in general.
Our plan was always to give them gifts at this time of year, just like nearly every other household in America. We also planned to give reasonable gifts to our friends and family. We knew we are a one-income house and were going to scale back this year more than in past years when we were dual income.
However, this inescapable lease has changed things.
Because we’ll be paying both rent and a mortgage for the unforeseeable future, spending any money at all is no longer an option. We made the decision not to. Not to buy anything for anyone.
In many ways it’s a good thing that our children are so young, because they don’t expect anything. Little Sir does not remember last year as significant. Little Lady, of course, will only be 10 months old so she has no idea what is going on. Obviously, it’s OK with them.
But I have to tell you, I have struggled with this. It’s not that I wanted to go overboard and buy them a ton of things. I am the one that has to clean up the things, and since we haven’t purchased any kind of toy storage yet, we don’t really have room for more things! Right now I just stack toys in piles on the floor when I want to clean, or throw them into the beds. (the plan was to buy storage at Target or Ikea but that costs money too!)
I think it’s more that I wanted to give them gifts. Little Lady especially, poor thing, has hardly any of her own toys. All the things she plays with are hand-me-downs from Little Sir. I was really looking forward to thinking of some good toys for her that could be her very own.
I am also grieving the loss of our ability to celebrate our anniversary (December 23) in some kind of special way. It’s only our 6th year, but we pretty much skipped our 5 year anniversary last year because I was pregnant with Little Lady and couldn’t take any vacation from work or it would impact my maternity leave. Even if we had wanted to go out for dinner one night, we didn’t have any childcare for Little Sir. So we didn’t celebrate at all. Before all this happened with the house, I was hoping that we could just have a “do-over” of our 5th anniversary this year.
Then two things happened:
1) one of the pastors at our church did a message on Thanks-living this Sunday where he talked about how we should be so thankful for the spiritual gifts we have been given that we are literally willing to let go of everything we own.
2) I read this post about giving up Christmas presents and realized that we are not alone in our decision not to celebrate in a monetary way.
We are very blessed to have this beautiful new home, and we have a Christmas tree and clothing to wear and plenty of cloth diapers (so thankful for cloth diapers! we don’t spend any money diapering!). We’ll stop paying the rent before we stop buying food, so we aren’t going to starve. We have each other, and we even have lots of fun music on iTunes and DVD’s! Once I get unpacked, I think we can do some fun Christmas baking together. I was considering this cinnamon applesauce ornament recipe from Adele, which would also give us something to gift to the grandparents.
I sort of blame Twitter and Facebook for making me doubt our decision… if I wasn’t seeing all the updates from my friends about Black Friday, online shopping, and what they’re getting their kids and how excited their kids are about opening gifts, I might not be as tempted to compare. Hopefully, this kind of un-Christmas will give us a new perspective on people who are really and truly hurting and don’t have a warm house, nice clothes, and plenty of food. If all we have to give up is some kind of doll or some kind of truck or a nice dinner out… I think we can handle that!