In just a couple of days it’s Christmas Eve. At first I was going to post “10 Stocking Stuffers For Under 10 Dollars” but then I thought, “Why not share what Christmas means to me?” So here is my story.
As a child I remember how excited I would get anticipating Santa’s arrival. Normally a night person, I would go to bed early dreaming of the toys I would get. For me the most important thing about Christmas was the birth of Jesus, but toys came a very close second! I was definitely not one to wake up with a smile on my face and instead a person who loved to sleep in, but on Christmas Day I was up at 6am, ready to see what Santa brought me. I was never disappointed. I usually ended up going back to bed clutching a newly arrived Barbie.
So what’s so interesting about all of this? Probably the fact that I believed in Santa for longer than the usual kid. I believed in Santa and his magic until I was twelve years old! Yes you read that correctly – twelve. Or course part of me thought it he couldn’t be real, but I just wanted to believe so badly that it overrode any non-believing thoughts. I wanted to believe that there was someone out there that gave toys to all the good little boys and girls – and that the poor people would get presents and food that night. I wanted to believe that there was love, magic, and giving. Sad to say once I quit believing, the first Christmas was very sad for me. It seemed that the magic was gone.
Moving on to adulthood, I started seeing how people can be at Christmastime. So many people wait for the last minute to get gifts and are stressed out. Christmas is so not about that! I worked in retail for a few Christmases and I must admit that my Christmas spirit was at the lowest back then. People in such bad moods spending money they may not have. I was a part of that, trying to get presents for too many people and doing it last minute. I was miserable.
Then eventually I got married and still was stressed out with the gift giving. Finally my husband Tim and I realized that this is not what Christmas is about – spending money, trying to do everything, and being stressed out instead of happy. Together we made a “No Gifts” rule. We are not obligated to buy gifts – for anyone. All our friends/family are aware of this and if they want to still get us something, that’s their decision. We still give out cards, but most importantly we spend time with others and have fun instead.
Tim and I also started the tradition of buying for each other two chickens and a rooster (called “The Three Piece Chicken Dinner”) through Chalice. This charity will buy the chickens/roosters and give them to families in need. We also buy formula for a baby on behalf of my toddler James. There are lots of things you can buy and if you’re not sure they have an option to give money and they will spend it where they see a need. The reason we chose Chalice is because we are Catholic, we researched that their CEO is the least paid of all the charities, and they also have the highest rate of the actual money going to those who need it instead of going to their organization. You don’t have to be Catholic to help or appreciate those factors! We also sponsor a cute child named Carl from Chalice as well.
The next thing that was a game changer for us was not to do as much during the holiday season. We say “no” to most invitations, preferring to have a small get together at our house. This year it was an ugly sweater party. We pick five must do things. This year it was:
- Take a family photo in our matching jammies.
- Get our family photo with Santa at the mall.
- Have an ugly sweater party.
- Walk down Candy Cane Lane.
- Christmas Eve Dinner with Tim’s family.
With the combination of giving to those in need and doing way less, the magic has been brought back into Christmas for this gal! And yes, there actually is a Santa Claus – St. Nicolas. For more about him, check out Wikipedia, but here’s a short blurb from there: “Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as Nikolaos the Wonderworker. His reputation evolved among the faithful, as was common for early Christian saints, and his legendary habit of secret gift-giving gave rise to the traditional model of Santa Claus through Sinterklaas.” I still laugh about this meme of him:
And over the years I have started noticing how generous, kind and loving people are. I only try to focus on the good and as a result I see way more of it! I now say to myself, “Yes Joelle, there is a Santa Claus! He lives on through the good we continue to do.” From my family to yours, hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with God’s love and special moments!