Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas gifts & advent activities

As Christmas quickly approaches, a few gift questions always linger for a self-second-guesser and practical gift-giver like me. Do I need to go out and buy a few stocking stuffers for me and Erik or can I just go through the junk drawer and throw in various items we already own? Do I really want to give Eleanor the vintage Playmobil house that I’ve been saving for her (it’s the exact same one I adored as I child!) or will the precious little pieces drive us all crazy? Will Luke do fine with the 8-12 age range of Lego sets or should I stick to 6-12? How is it that Erik would prefer another waterlogged camera just for the fun of attempting a repair, when his shoes are falling apart and I happen to be an expert on men’s sunhat options? Maybe I should just get him Legos too – I better check those age ranges again…

But last night’s advent activity put all my gift ‘quandaries’ in perspective. We talked to the kids about several different donation gifts available on World Vision’s website, watched the short video on each one, and let them choose an item to send to those in need. The world’s injustices were unbearable in a fresh way as I explained to the kids the harsh contrast between their privileged lives and other perfectly innocent children’s situations. I wasn’t sure how much our stoic Eleanor was understanding, but at the end when I asked her what she would like to give she firmly replied – the clothes. I asked her why she chose that gift and she looked in my eyes and said earnestly, “So they be warm!” Luke was more touched by the plight of the sick and chose the medicines but told us that he wanted to get them all. Then Erik and I each chose our gifts, and our evening prayers with the kids for those in need were sent up with fresh urgency that night.

The World Vision gifts are part of the mix of traditions that we’re practicing with the kids this advent. Each day we do a special activity, which I’ve tried to make both fun and others-focused. So far our activities have included: having friends over to make snow globes (which wasn’t quite as idyllic as it sounds when Ella dropped hers and we were sterilizing tweezers to pull out a glass shard from her toe, but she’s fine now), attending the choir concert at church, and crafting lots of other less injury-prone cards and gifts. This weekend is our most anticipated activity – we’re taking the kids shopping to choose gifts for each other. I’ll sit with Eleanor for a Starbucks date while Erik takes Luke to find a present for Ella and then we’ll trade places. I wonder if Erik’s planning to ask Luke what to get me then too. I’ll have to drop some hints for them both. (:

We’ve also been focusing on a different piece of the Christmas story in the book of Luke each night and reading our Christmas themed storybooks. I’ll have to do a separate post with our favorite children’s Christmas books since there are so many sweet ones and I’d love to remember them. For our number-loving Luke, we’ve been counting down the days on our advent sticker calendar, and this year we added a new tradition that I never thought I’d embrace – the elf on the shelf. But our variation on the elf storyline and how the kids have responded could be its own post too so I’ll wrap this little 2013 time capsule up here. Happy holidays!