There are some who feel like the Elf of the Shelf is not an appropriate holiday tradition for various reasons. Some feel that children should be disciplined enough to behave well everyday without the incentive that Santa and his elves are watching them. Others feel it takes away from the true meaning of Christmas. In our house, we have two elves, Peppermint Snow for my granddaughter, and Jingle for the boys. They arrive on the youngest boys birthday the week of Thanksgiving in November bearing a birthday gift with a cupcake and candle. When the kids are especially good, they may bring a special treat. They stay throughout December, including celebrating the oldest boys birthday with a gift and cupcake for him, and leave on Christmas eve when Santa arrives with gifts and takes them back to the North Pole. It’s fun for the whole family and it is a little bit of incentive for the children, but not so much that they are only good when then elves are visiting. I believe it gives them something tangible to associate with making good choices. It’s a jumping off point to remind them the rest of the year that Jesus is always with us and that we should be kind and good to each other, just as Jesus is to us. So, for us, we will continue to tradition of the elves visiting until the youngest out grows it, and even then, I’m sure they’ll still be hanging around to decorate the tree or something.
Posts tagged ‘Christmas’
Decorating cookies at my house consists of purchasing a gingerbread kit with all the icing, candy and cookies ready to go. (Only a few times in my life have I made gingerbread cookies from scratch!) The parts and pieces are divided between my middle daughter, Chailey, who has much more patience for this than I will ever have, and how ever many children are at the house that day, typically at least 3, but often more. Some years there have been additional adult children or their friends who have joined in the fun. Forever a kid at heart, right?
The best part of decorating Christmas cookies is watching the kids put on the icing. They spread a little, then lick the knife, spread a little more, then lick again. Putting on the candy with their now sticky little fingers follows a similar protocol: a piece for the cookie, a piece in their mouth. By the time they complete their masterpiece, no one has any interest in eating it other than the creator.
Thankfully Chailey’s cookies are edible and available for bystanders, but they are typically too beautiful to consider eating. So, they stay under glass on the cake stand, acting as holiday decor for at least a few days before they are gone.
They are all so proud of their work, they cannot wait for someone to take a picture of it, and no one dare take a picture before they have completed it. Even if I tried, the picture would have their hand, arm or whole body plastered across it. They are quite serious about their cookies.
The final tradition in cookie decorating at our house is having their picture taken eating the cookie. This is a must! They even check the picture after it is taken to be sure their vision is appropriately captured. Christmas at our house would not be complete without cookies, but more importantly, without the smiles on these sticky, icing covered faces!
A few years ago we started taking the kids to see the Christmas tree at Sundance Square at the end of November right after Thanksgiving when the tree is the most fresh and beautiful. This year we met friends for lunch downtown, then spent time with them at the tree afterward. It was a great time had by all, young and old. Santa wasn’t there for pictures just yet, but all the kids needed was each other for a great fun game of tag and racing to and from the various decorations while the adults talked and enjoyed time together.
I love the symbolism of the Christmas tree and how it points others to Christ with it’s height and majesty, how it is an evergreen just as Jesus is the tree of life and remains true to us forever. I love how the lights symbolize how He is the light of the World who has come to save us. The star on the top of many trees is a symbol of the north star the led the shepherds and wise men to the manger at His birth. If we stop and think about it, a Christmas tree is more than just a location for the gifts we will give and receive during the holiday season, but a symbol of the gift of eternal life that is ours to have every single day of every year if we accept it. Who could pass up such a wonderful gift?
As a child my parents taught me to believe in Santa, but with my own children I felt like that would be lying to them. So, from the beginning I told them that Santa was the embodiment of the Spirit of Christmas; goodwill to all, giving being better than receiving, etc. She reminded me that I taught them Christmas was the celebration of the birth of Jesus, but a long time ago there was a man named Saint Nicolas who was known for secretly giving gifts to others, which was the model for who we now know as Santa Claus.
I didn’t want my children to feel like they were not good enough in the years that we could not afford to buy them gifts under the guise of Santa. They received plenty of gifts from family members, so they never wanted for anything. However, being able to provide Santa for the children currently in my house has been a joy. Though we minimize it to just include things that fit in their stocking, because filling stocking is something I continue to do for my own children who are home on Christmas morning.
My oldest daughter and I were talking this week about how we would explain to the children in our house, when the time comes, that Santa does not come down our chimney to deliver gifts. I told her that I knew the time was near because I had decided when I was in second or third grade that Santa was someone who drove around town and dropped off gifts door to door, the idea of magic reindeer and a large man fitting down the chimney was not something I could continue to believe. I appreciated her telling me that she never felt like Santa was a lie that people tell their children, but a way of teaching children to believe in the wonders of Christmas at an age where they are not old enough to fully understand the miracle of the birth of Christ.
What are your Christmas traditions with regard to Santa Claus?
When I think of Christmas I first think of the smell of peppermint. When my girls were little I had a set of peppermint snowball candles that burned constantly throughout the month of December. All winter long (to be honest all year long) I use peppermint scented lotion, candles, hand soap, and bath soap. People who used to work with me, have said they still think of me when they smell peppermint. It’s just my thing. It’s funny how certain scents make you think of certain times of year or certain people. Often memories are tied to different scents. Apple cider makes me think of fall, original chap-stick makes me think of my Dad. Embers burning make me think of cold winter nights roasting marshmallows on opened metal hangers in the living room fireplace as a kid. Back then we had closets full of metal hangers, but these days we find it difficult to locate even one. Half of the fun was twisting the neck of the hanger open and getting it straight enough to use. With three of us all vying for a turn at the fireplace I cannot imagine the patience my Dad must have had to make it a truly memorable occasion.
All of the things I remember the most about the Christmas’s of my childhood include spending time with my family. Such as my brother, sister and I spending time around the white aluminum Christmas tree with a rotating color wheel shining on it while watching my parents wrap gifts for other family and friends. Or waking up on Christmas morning to find that Santa not only brought my sister and I matching Pink Huffy bicycles, but matching teddy bears in brown and cream that we had picked out in JCPenney while shopping recently with our mother. Who knew Santa was really watching us everywhere we went? This was the same year that I told Santa I wanted nothing more than a stuffed life-size Benji like the dog in the movie. So, I was thrilled to see him sitting there among the rest of the loot that morning. I remember going out very close to Christmas and getting a fresh tree to decorate with one set of grandparents while the other put up their artificial tree soon after Thanksgiving each year. Christmas always meant the best breakfast at one grandparents house and homemade divinity and candies at the other. It meant falling asleep in the car or at least playing opossum so we would be carried inside when we arrived home from Nanny and Pappy’s on Christmas Eve. It meant getting up bright and early on Christmas morning, but it was all worth it, sleep or no sleep. It was the best time of year when everyone was happy and all of our wishes seemed to come true.
December is the time of year that the air gets cold, but our hearts become warm as we celebrate the birth of our savior by giving to each other in a symbolic gesture of love. It’s also the time of year that we realize everything we failed to complete over the course of the year. It’s a sign of the finishing of another year and the coming of a new beginning. We spend the month making up for lost time while adding a variety of events to round out and celebrate the year as well as Christmas. It’s a time for goodbyes, but also a time to prepare for hello’s both literally and figuratively, We see family and friends that we may not see often and get to spend time catching up on their lives as well as sharing ours with them. December is lights and feasts and gifts and love and warmth all surrounded by the bitter cold air from the north wind. It’s a time for both celebration and reflection.