Monday, December 01, 2008

Christmas season 2008

After reading Jen's post - here - I got to thinking about our advent/Christmas season in our house and what I wanted that to look like.

Here it is in a nutshell: I want it to be joyful and relaxed and not stressful and full of greed. And I want the girls to start to *get it* about Christmas and what it really means. So how do we accomplish that? Some ideas for our family:

* Cut down on gifts - we are doing this mostly for financial reasons, however, it has the bonus effect of making the season [a little] simpler. We have cut down on our list of people to buy for, the amount we are spending for each person and therefore the amount of thinking and shopping that I have to do. For me there is more stress involved in thinking of the perfect gift rather than actually shopping for it or spending the money on it so the fewer I have to come up with, the less stress for me.

* Cut down on Christmas cards - I was going through my Christmas card list a couple of weeks ago and realized that most of the people on the list saw my children on a pretty regular basis either in person or on Facebook... so why in the heck do I feel it necessary to send them a picture of my girls - and spend the money on the card and the postage? I was going to cut out cards altogether, but was reminded that there are a few people who are not in that category and love getting their picture every year. I also realized that there are a few people (family and close friends) who probably put their picture up on their refrigerator for the whole year or show it off to their friends (my Gram)... so I'm sending out about 25 cards instead of 50-65.

* Put the tv down in the crawl space for the month - a couple of weeks ago in his sermon our pastor talked about how the kids he met in Africa were the happiest people he'd ever met - BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T KNOW WHAT THEY WERE MISSING. Wow. That hit me big time. And at the same time my girls had somehow found Nick Jr. on tv and started seeing commercials for toys. Pretty soon I began to hear "I want," "Can I have," and "For Christmas will you get me..." Kind of made me want to vomit, actually. My kids don't need ANYTHING except maybe a pair of boots right now. So we are stripping down and getting rid of the tv again so that MY kids won't know what they're missing (although other kids are now introducing them to wonderful things like American Girl Dolls instead of the tv doing it.)

* Start some advent traditions - Dave went out and got a fresh advent wreath this weekend (didn't know that I had a fake one in the decoration bin) and we did our first reading yesterday. I've had the fake one for a couple of years, but never got around to actually doing it. We are excited about doing it this year - I think the girls are old enough to sit still, listen to the scripture and join in our discussion. Yesterday we talked about hope and why we should hope for Christ coming again. It was good and I'm excited to be doing it with them!

In addition, I've had some ornaments for a few years that we haven't gotten around to doing that we're going to do this year. There are 12 ornaments that each have a picture that depicts a name of Jesus - The Door, The Vine, Immanuel, Light of the WOrld, Bright Morning Star, Lion of Judah, Lamb of God, Bread of Life, King of Kings, Giver of LIving Water, Good Shepherd, Savior - and there is a reading that goes along with each ornament. I need to count 12 days back from Christmas for our starting date, but I would like to do a reading every night for 12 days and put the ornament on the tree. VERY excited about this one, too!

* Allow the girls to help me bake for the holidays - We always do Christmas cookies, but we're going to do a little more this year because I really, really love to bake and am going to take a cue from Jen and bring stuff to the neighbors. However, it is SO hard and frustrating and time consuming to bake with 3 little helpers... so I am going to change my expectations and allow them to help me and have fun with it instead of getting frustrated.

* Reread and journal on The Shack - watch for it.

* Get up earlier, get done running earlier and get back to reading the Bible in the morning before my shower and before school routine starts. This means I need to be running by 6:30 at the latest, out of bed at 6.

I'm sure there are many more ideas for our family and I haven't even asked Dave what he would like to see this month be like. He has planned family outings for every weekend of the month and it should be fun - as long as I remember that these things are about the girls and not about what I want out of them (a little problem I have sometimes... focusing on the wrong agenda).

I'm looking forward to a wonderful Christmas season - not setting expectations, but am looking forward to just enjoying it this year rather than getting mired in the muckiness of the holidays.


Amy 5:56 PM  

Do you run every single morning 7 days a week? I was running every morning and then went back to running 2-3 mornings a week. I find I can't stick with it unless I am doing it every morning. Do you follow any kind of training guide? I am thinking of training for a half marathon even if I don't run the actual race. I find if I don't have a plan, I just run a half mile or don't even run and just walk...then I am really pushing myself and it's not very effective. Just curious on how you guys do it.

i am not 7:20 PM  

I don't run every morning, but I do work out M-S (sleep in on Sunday - in case I haven't mentioned it, I LOVE saturday night church!) I run 4 days - M, W, Th & S and do 40 minutes of body weight exercises on T & F. I have a hard enough time running two days in a row (W&TH - TH is always MUCH harder than W) without thinking about doing 7 days!

I don't really have a specific training plan anymore. I did the Couch to 5k a while ago and never got to the 5k. I got really bored with the program and every time I tried to do it I quit and went on my own after a couple of weeks. I started running outside last July and loved it and worked on running a little more each day before I started walking. I increased my overall distance by quite a bit, but never got to the point where I was running much more than 1 mile without stopping.

When it got cold I went back to the treadmill. Started running at 5.4 mph for 36:00 and increased my straight running time by 1 minute with every run. While I was in Mexico I decided to run at 6.0 since I was eating a whole lot more than normal and found that it was actually a much better pace for me so I've stuck with it. I'm now running about 2.5 - 2.75 miles without stopping, resting for 30-90 seconds and running again for almost another mile. I did a total of 4.0 miles this morning in 41:15 (I do a 1/4 mile warmup walk when I first start = 3:45).

Not sure if I've mentioned to you that my issue is my heart rate - it gets up to 190bpm while I'm running (even at 5.4 mph), which makes it hard to maintain. My legs and body could keep up pretty easily, especially now that I've lost 15lbs, but my lungs/heart can't and I need to stop to catch my breath.

I've also found that I run much better when I can run to the beat of a song. Certain songs are the perfect pace for me and I run well to them - the entire Daughtry album is good, No Air by Jordan Sparks, Fleetwood Mac and a couple of others. How about you? Do you run to music - what music do you think is best?

Anonymous 10:28 AM  

One thing we've done to help our kids 'get it' is have them earn money to purchase gifts through the Samaritan's Purse catalog. We match the amount they earn. We've also only purchased a couple gifts per child, so they learn it's not all about more, more more...
We also have gone to drawing names in my family, so we only buy one gift each (meaning Jared buys for one of my family members, and I do the same). We've gone to 'family gifts' on his side of the family (this year we're doing one game per family). I wish we could just stop buying gifts altogether sometimes!

Amy 11:32 AM  

I always run outside at least for now. I have the weather to my advantage as it does not get very cold here. We have a few cold spells in the winter, but for the most part we're in the 40's and low 50's. In Michigan I did run outside in the snow and freezing cold. I remember running around Reeds Lake in blowing snow and no one was there except this guy who said, "I feel better I am not the only crazy one running in this today."

I like the silence and solitude of running so I've never run with music. I heard it is dangerous as you're less aware of traffic and can tune out. Not sure how true this is...might relate more to bikers. I do run on a lot of busy roads. We don't have a lot of nice bike paths in our neighborhood.

We've talked about joining a health club after the first of year if our finances allow it. So I might be doing the treadmill a few days a week. I like the regular top 40 type music that is set to a techno beat. I go to an aerobics class once in a great while when my friend lets me use her guess pass and I love the music.

I might save for up an iPod so I can run with music. But I also want to buy a new bike too so not sure if that will happen anytime soon.

April 7:33 PM  

Christmas will be lower key for me this year too! I like simple gift giving (one slightly bigger gift and one small one if I think of it). I like the thought of not doing christmas cards this year...I have too much going on to pull that off I think! The kids are at this moment decorating the tree. I figured I would let them decorate it and then tonight when they are in bed, I will reorganize it in a way that I can live with it. Interesting! I just don't love all the hub bub of the craziness that lends to Chrsitmas and I pray that somehow this year will be nicer than I could expect!!! I desire to be surprised ;)!

Ginger 12:43 AM  

SOmething I started about 7 years ago with my oldest was that from Oct-Dec 13 he earns money to donate towards toys for tots. He also donates one of his previously loved toys for every new toy he gets so that his toy box does not overflow, we do this with our youngest son now as well. As a Family we adopt a family from the sharing tree and help them enjoy a nice christmas, this money is also saved up from OCt-Dec13th.
As for gifts from us and Santa..they get one gift from us and 3 gifts plus stockings from santa and the santa gifts are under $5. We read the true christmas story every Christmas Eve and this year our 10 yr old asked if he could read it..
Anyway that is just a few things we do
I make our own Christmas Cards as well and print them up to send...this way can do them for pennies each...I cheat and send all the ones to my moms family to my grandma and she hands them out Christmas Eve..I do the same with my Dads family...I myself hand out the cards to the people I know I will see Christmas Eve and Day.

Jen 3:05 PM  

I already wrote my piece on my blog but I'm piping in here to say I LOVE CARDS! Even if I see the family 3 times a week I love them! They go on my fridge for the season and then we pull them down one at a time in Jan to pray for that family at supper time.

So if you hate to send 'em, don't do it. But if you think people don't love to get them b/c they see you all the time, not true! :-)

Amy 4:07 PM  

I second the cards. I LOVE getting cards and I daresay I LOVE sending them out. We don't get mail as much anymore b/c of e-mail and facebook. I was a huge penpal person in the 80's and wrote letters all the time. Any mail even if it's just a card with someone signing their name is well worth the extra greeting.

I put all the pictures in a scrapbook. I have a specific Christmas scrapbook. It is fun to see how much families change and remember people that were in our lives at the time. I started it in 2002. Jana, some of the first pictures in it are ones you sent when Nora was a toddler.

Skooks 4:16 PM  

ME too. I admit it. Though they are kind of a pain to put together and send out, it is really nice to get Christmas cards. But no one should feel like they have to send them out. Greeting card guilt is a bad thing. Christmas is actually the only time of year I like getting cards. I would prefer a thoughtful letter for my birthday, for instance, over a gift every time. I would prefer it over gifts at Christmas as well, but I know that people send out lots of cards, so I don't expect the ultra-personalization. It's just nice to hear from people.

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