I have thought about various titles for this post and could have used any of these others as well; The Amazing Love of Children, What is Special about Christmas? and Thank You to our Children!
Due to the circumstances of our lives at the moment we are living a very, very tight and meagre lifestyle. This has been an ongoing pressure for us over a fairly long period of time. Which we are praying will be relieved very soon.
I am not posting this for pity or as a 'woe is me' but as a prelude to a very exciting time for the children and I (and Stephen from a distance) as we have created a situation that I believe will show us the "True Meaning of Christmas!"
As we have come closer and closer to Advent and consequently Christmas I have struggled with the thought of "How are we going to be able to buy presents for the children, to the standard we have done in the past."
These thoughts have been harder to communicate with Stephen as he is not coming home again until just before Christmas. Trying to communicate and organise major events over the phone is extremely difficult.
So the question still arises "How do we manage to do this?"
As we struggled with this over the last few months, we talked with the children and discussed the fact that we would have to trim down significantly in the Gift giving side of Christmas.
This was I considered a major sacrifice on our part as we celebrate the Advent Season and Christmas BIG TIME in our household.
This is partly due to my own lack of traditions and family events growing up, and I have had a post in drafts for months on 'Creativity and Ownership' that I to post soon and hopefully will give an indication of how much we value these parts of family life.
As we discussed this the children were quite agreeable to this. They had recognised that this would be a by product of the circumstances.They also were more concerned about the fact "were we still going to have the Midnight Feast after Midnight Mass, were we able to do all the cooking we usually do and were we able to celebrate the Saint Feast days during Advent with the usual amount of food and traditions.
We explained that yes we would although St Nicholas day would have to consist of small and probably home made gifts. This they agreed would still be great, they would be happy with this.
I was fine with this but I myself had felt we were letting the children down. That we weren't doing ALL the Advent and Christmas traditions we had built up over the last 22 years. Imagine my dismay when I finally worked out we could not really afford to buy ANY presents at all this year. My initial thought about those empty Christmas Sacks on Christmas morning and this being Arwen's first Christmas was enough to bring me to tears.
I dwelt on this for a couple of days and even whined to a few good friends (thank you for listening to those special friends).
Then it came to me ~~ the solution. If only the children would be agreeable.
When I approached the children, individually ( I wasn't brave enough to do this one on mass) and said that we would not be able to have presents at all, they took this news with such understanding and good cheer that I believe only God could have prepared their hearts for this. I felt so blessed and proud to be the mother of these special children.
Once again the question of traditions and food were brought up and I confirmed we could definitely do these but nothing else. They were so appreciative of this.
And then it struck me -- Christmas to our children wasn't about the presents (although I am sure if circumstances changed they would gobble up presents as fast as anyone else) but Christmas was about the Birth of Our Lord and the traditions and family times we have created to celebrate this.
WOW, this was an eye opener for me. I had never seen Christmas through their eyes before.
However the excitement was just beginning. As I pondered the children's responses and was grateful for their acceptance of the situation I began to have an idea that I would share with them.
The ideas consisted of; " What if everyone was to make a whole heap of presents together and then Daddy and I could distribute them into the bags on Christmas morning."
This was greeted with much enthusiasm. The idea of working together in a "Santa's Toyshop" theme was very exciting. So was the idea of not knowing if you were making your own present.
So in typical Family style we have created a workshop for making Christmas presents. We spent time thinking up a name and came up with "Poor Box Toys Inc." Why this slogan you may ask, because we love the quote on Disney's Animated Robin Hood where Friar Tuck says to the Sheriff as he steal money form the Poor Box- "But that's the Poor Box". It probably has no meaning to you but it is a family culture saying.
In line with our workshop approach the children wanted me to design them some badges to print our and laminate that everyone wears to the work shop, aka the Library room.
I made a few designs and these are the two they loved the most.
The Library room has had many of the materials for making presents taken into it along with the books we spent a couple of hours getting ideas from.
These books are mostly the ones on my side bars along with a couple of others.
A sign was placed out side the Library room and a running work sheet tells us what has been made.
The other requirement of the "Poor Box Toys Inc" was, except for the exception of purchasing a couple of lengths of pine for some wood working we had to use only materials we have on hand.
I am truly thrilled at the excitement of the children on this project and I am pretty excited too.
Today we had our first workshop session and started on some gifts. The children made excellent progress and we had a fun time doing this together.
I have some pictures ready for another post to share with you.
As I share with you I must be honest and say I wasn't sure if I should. I mean, I was quite embarrassed to admit we couldn't provide the 'normal,' for us, Christmas gifts for our children this year and this would be a reflection on how badly we have provided for our children.
Having talked with Stephen though, after reading around the Internet a bit I have seen we aren't the only ones affected by the economy and other personal situations. My intent in sharing such personal information is that I pray that others who may need some encouragement, as I did will find it here.
- Keeper of the Hearth
- Feasts of Jesus
- Feasts of Mary
- Midnight Feast
- 12 Days of Christmas
- Stir Up Sunday
- Madi Gras
- Shrove Tuesday
- Ash Wednesday
- Palm Sunday
- Holy Week
- Good Friday
- Ascension Day
- All Saints/All Souls
- Christ the King
- Stations of the Cross
- Liturgical Year
- Feminine Arts