Monday, 17 December 2012

christmas musings and meanings // nativity

With a growing little family, I have been so excited to help create a meaningful and fun Christmas for my children. It has been an interesting process for Mark and I, thinking through what we want our family Christmas to look like and to mean to the kids. Developing 'our family way' of doing Christmas. Of course, it's always been a good ol' time growing up but having my own little crew now, I am so excited to add layers of tradition, meaning, and purpose to this time of year. It is such a privilege to experience the magic of this season through the eyes of a child and every year since Lily was born, it just gets more and more wonderful! Each year we layer in another tradition, a new direction, an increased sense of meaning that we want to pass on to the kids. Special little things to remember and build on every year, a strong sense of family identity and ways to both bless and give joy to our children and more importantly, encourage them to bless and serve others.

Tonight I brought out a cute wooden Nativity set that I bought for the kids
in January last year so I wouldn't forget this year!

Our floors are almost finished (can I get a 'Yahooo!!!!') but still bare, and the wide
space just called the kids to spread out and play!

Our thoughts, traditions and goals are still developing and I am sure will continue to 'adjust' over the years, but what does Christmas look like - and feel like - in our family? I might go into some of the traditions we are gathering in another post but tonight I feel like musing on what elements of Christmas look like in our home and how we got to this place.

One aspect is that after much thought, prayer, discussion and so on, we have decided (is this controversial?!!) that we would not tell our children that Santa is 'real'. For a variety of reasons, I just did not personally feel comfortable even attempting to uphold the 'charade'. We are happy to play along with some fun aspects as the kids want to, e.g. last year we scattered reindeer food on the lawn that Lily made at school, and who knows what else we will get into in years to come, but it is done with the understanding that it's part of the magical world of make-believe. Just as the kids have a glorious time hunting through the house for bears (though no bears have yet been found!), or fluttering around as fairies (even though they can't yet fly!), they can also enjoy the excitement and magic of the season whilst knowing that Santa is just a bit of pretend-fun. Kid's capacity for joy and wonder in imagination is pretty cool like that! We may introduce the historical aspect of St Nicholas at some point as the basis for the modern Santa but not as a current and real magical person.

I just want to add that by no means do I think this is the 'only right way' - it is just simply what felt right and good for our family, and we are just doing our best to uphold certain values and principles with our kids as best we can. We sure aren't trying to be kill-joys (they are still wildly excited about Christmas even though they don't think Santa magically brings them gifts) and will definitely work hard on making sure the kids don't spoil the fantasy for any other kids too!

'Eli, please can I have the big palm tree?'
'Uhhhhhh.... no.'

Can't believe I managed to capture this cheeky little face!!!
Camera was put down and intervention occurred directly after this scene,

As for the religious aspect - though I don't think Jesus was actually born on December 25th, and thus I don't consider Christmas a 'holy day', I appreciate that it is a time of year to remember the birth of Jesus and what a gift it was for God to send His Son to earth for our salvation. I definitely want this to be an aspect of our Christmas, this focus on the ultimate gift and trying to remember and live out those things that Jesus came to earth to bring, teach and exemplify - love and grace!

For me, one of the things I most love about Christmas and want it to be about for our little crew is family and community. Time together without a lot of stress or expectation - giving, sharing, serving, loving. Eating, relaxing, singing, laughing, doing fun things together, summery outings and activities, projects (without pressure), catching up with family, with friends. Looking for ways to give to those in need, and being part of our community. It doesn't all happen in one year, or all the same every year but slowly and surely we build up 'Our Family Christmas', a season of joy and love and fun and family.

Suffice to say.... I love it!

I read out a story about the birth of Jesus whilst Lily eagerly acted the scenes out with the pieces. She loved it and
I can tell we will be doing this every night till Christmas!

Later on she renamed everyone as Wizard of Oz characters for a whole different story!

After the kids were in bed, Mama could not resist setting it all up 'just so'!! Ha ha, yes we are all kids at heart, right?!


  1. Such a lovely and thoughtful post Kate. I love your words about traditions. I agree, they are like layers and I truly hope that if we do them with love and thought that they will bind our family together at times like this, but also it may flow on throughout other times of the year.
    We also do "Santa" in a similar fashion. We don't really draw much attention to the Santa throughout this time but support Finn and Harper as they talk about the magical aspect of Santa. It's hard as it is really a strong force, but to us it doesn't really feel right. I don't think I have fully nutted out how we are going to handle it, but at this stage it's not a big focus in our house.
    Lovely to hear your thoughts Kate....and the nativity set is so adorable! Love the photso of Lily and Eli at play :)

    1. ahh so well put Amber, about these little family traditions binding us closer together not just at xmas but through out the year too! I so agree! yeah, it can be challenging to work through how exactly to play all these things in your family huh - I'm feeling more settled on some aspects but so many others are still kinda being examined, open to change or feeling unsure about. Good thing we get lots of years to try it all out and can adjust as needed :)

  2. I agree Kate, Christmas is about time together and absolutely everything you listed, without the stress. Isn't fun being part of the kids world as we create these wonderful memories for them. Gorgeous nativity set and I had a little giggle at your last photo, you are too cute :)

    1. cute or perhaps just weird, heehee! i know what you mean - having kids means getting to experience their world and all the xmas fun all over again - it's so awesome huh! enjoy your gorgeous little family xmas xx

  3. Kate Jennings - Wiser than the three wise men, more maternal than Mary, sweeter than the angels...
    I do love your writing Kate. Also, please may we come and have Christmas at your house?

    I too struggle with the whole "making our own Christmas' thing. It's hard when it's just one adult and a child who probably won't remember, sitting down to eat a full turkey dinner when, well, we'd probably both be just as happy with a sandwich. It also doesn't help that I have a decade of 'proper' white Christmasses under my belt including some Danish ones and all the ancient, well-ingrained (but completely irrelevant here) traditions that involves.

    I haven't told Thomas any 'lies' about santa either. I just don't think I have it in me. It helps that Thomas is incredibly suspicious of him and chooses to keep his distance from the jolly man.
    We bought and decorated a tree - purely from peer pressure. I've put some presents next to it that other people have sent for Thomas, but he doesn't seem to have even noticed them, let alone become excited about the prospect of opening them. Oh dear. Christmas is a bit of a non-event here I'm afraid. :| Still, there's always next year, right?

    Anyone, enough of our lame Christmas. I want to say how much I love your wooden nativity. Soooo cute, and very clever of you to buy it in advance. And that picture of Eli's face? Now there's some Christmas spirit! LOL! I also love that Lily turned it into a scene for the Wizard of Oz. Classic. I imagine it would be a police station in double quick time if Thomas had his way with it :)

    Happy, happy Christmas to you, lovely family. May you make wonderful memories!

    1. oh Tarnya! I hearby formally invite you to join us at christmas!!! get yourself a (very expensive unfortunately) plane ticket for you and Thomas come join us! We would love it, and not JUST for your awesome phototaking on the day, haha ;) Yes, making up your own path for xmas can be tough, especially in your circumstances but I'm a big fan of NO PRESSURE XMAS! And whilst I love traditions, the ones I love are the ones that work for our family, rather than being 'traditional traditions' you know? Many years we just had a Xmas brunch (NO TURKEY OR HAM - criminal!!!) rather than xmas lunch - i love it :) and when the kids were younger I wouldnt even buy them xmas gifts (cruel mother!). A white Danish xmas sounds so magical but I reckon a ham (or turkey!) sandwhich whilst chilling at the beach or watching xmas movies w your little dude sounds awesome too - so I say make it your own thing when it feels right - and what works for you too as yeah, everyday is Xmas for your beloved little guy anyway :) He will drag you into some stuff in years to come as he becomes more aware, so for now, keep it simple and enjoy, i reckon!
      Girl, your kind comments make me seriously blush. Thanks for your encouragement, it truly means a lot and yes I quietly admit I always hope you might pop by for a comment!! thanks so much and I also wish you a truly sweet Christmas to you and Thomas! xx

  4. These pics are awesome.

  5. Your kids are always so interesting and gentle. I am always blown away by how thoughtful/constructed your parenting choices are. We are so slap-dash!

  6. I love your nativity set! Ammon has so enjoyed acting out the Christmas tale and lots of other little games with his little wooden set too (not quite as pretty as yours though!)

    It's funny, we too tried to keep Christmas simple and focus on the spirit of Christmas and thankfully, when we ask Ammon what Christmas is he said "Jesus birthday!" and doesn't seem to focus on the Santa hype. It's funny, we told Ammon Santa wasnt real, and he was ok with that- then he started telling other kids so we had to to have a chat about how some people choose to believe in Santa because it is fun playing make-believe, like how we sometimes pretend that his Charlie bear can talk etc... He then said he would like to pretend Santa is real. Ok! Next time we were at the shops he saw Santa and turned to me and said "See mum... Santa IS real..." lol. We tried!


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