By Ana Rubenstein
“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” Dr. Seuss quote
While everybody else has been so excited about Christmas, decorating their houses, shopping and wrapping gifts, baking cookies, building gingerbread houses and getting prepared somehow for this holiday season, I am still here asking myself what is so special about Christmas? I know there is religious significance, but still feeling left out, I started to ask myself why I cannot get excited about giving and receiving beautifully wrapped gifts, happy about decorating plastic pine trees, looking at colorful lights, singing carols and even moving that Elf on the Shelf around my house?
But before you stop reading this post and start accusing me of being a grumpy, Anti-Santa/Christmas mother, I have to say I grew up in Brazil celebrating Christmas in a very different way. I cannot even remember asking for a gift to Santa because we were a family of 4 children living a very simple life. We celebrate Christmas with great food and family on December 24th (Christmas Eve) which was special in it’s on way but with no big focus on Santa, matching clothes, lights, trees, special songs or expensive gifts.
This week, though, when my daughter asked how Santa Claus will enter our house if we do not have a chimney, I realized that Christmas is not just about how I feel about it anymore or how it was when I was growing up. Here is my chance to create a special Christmas from scratch, personalizing each detail based on what makes sense to us and on what will bring us joy and happiness.
The first and most important ingredient is to teach our kids that Christmas is the season of things money can’t buy: kindness, unconditional love, and quality time with family and friends. Christmas is our season for extra hugging, kisses, smiles and heartfelt conversations. It is our time to let life move slower for a few days, slow enough for us to stay in our matching PJs all day long if we wish, have hot chocolate, popcorn, cookies, homemade goodies including grandma’s pumpkin pie.
Christmas gives us the opportunity to be present, create beautiful memories while we experience life and spend time together. This year, my children will receive a memory book (a late gift as I am still working on that) with the best moments of 2018. Can’t wait to relive and remember the experiences we had through this year.
Talking about receiving, our Christmas will include exchanging material things in a different way. What I am adopting this year is that instead of unlimited toys, they are getting something they need (winter clothes), something they want (a cheetah and a musical instrument), something to wear (white socks so I don’t need to keep looking for missing pairs), something to read (memory book with family pictures) and an experience (music and gymnastics classes). By the way, my husband and I, are exchanging experiences as well. I received my first one yesterday: a ticket to Cirque du Soleil. He doesn’t know yet but he is getting a cooking class and tickets for Michael Bublé’s concert this February.
And in the process of buying less material things, donating the ones we don’t use as much anymore, and giving each other more experiences, we create a new tradition for our family of giving and receiving Christmas gifts we can’t find in stores.