Adeline did see Santa and Mrs. Clause at a local charity event that collected toys for children in need. Tim took the kids to the event, where in exchange for bringing gifts, the community was offered free rides at Trail Dust Town. However, the unexpected highlight was a visit and sing-a-long with the famous Elsa and Anna. With that, the allure of Santa instantly vanished! We also read lots of Christmas books that included Santa and put out the obligatory cookies and carrots on Christmas Eve. So, although the focus was on Jesus' birth there was still lots of whimsy around Santa.
Back at home, while we put up our Christmas decorations, we explained to Adeline that all of this was to prepare for Jesus' birthday, I regularly asked her whose birthday was coming up so it stayed in the forefront of her mind. Then, we started to prepare to give to others in Christ's honor. I want Adeline to see Christmas as more of a time to give than receive.
A few days before Christmas I asked Adeline to go through all of her toys and pick out the ones that she would like to give to other kids, whose parents couldn't afford to buy them gifts for Christmas. I was surprised at how willing she was to sort through her toys and how many she chose to give away. I posted an add on Craigslist, listing the toys for free for families in need. Within a couple hours we had several families interested. On the morning of Christmas Eve, we drove around town and delivered our gently used toys. Addie was really eager to drop off the gifts, but was upset when she couldn't go into people's homes, haha. This was a great experience that I'd love to repeat next year. It enabled Adeline to be hands-on in helping others, showed her the true spirit of the holiday, and we were able to make room for the hoard of new toys she received during Christmas!
On Christmas morning, we started the festivities by singing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus, lighting candles on a donut. I wanted the day to begin with the real reason for celebrating Christmas, and Adeline loves birthdays, so it was perfect. Here's a video of us singing to Him.
After breakfast, we opened presents. We had a small budget for our family this year, but it didn't diminish the fun at all; in fact, I liked it much better. The kids had already received an endless amount of gifts from neighbors and our family members so they were kind of past the excitement. We chose to give Adeline and Lincoln two present each, again, knowing they would receive a bizillion from other people. And for stockings, I picked out a few items from the Dollar Tree. Adeline received a book called Fairy Birds and a set of fairy wings to match. For Lincoln, we picked out two books since he is a book fanatic. It was hard to stop myself from picking out every cute gift I knew the kids would like, but again, I wanted to keep the focus on Christ and honoring Him. This holiday has become so commercialized that it's easy to forget how it all started in the first place, with the birth of our Savior. One of my friends had a similar take on Christmas and her five year old daughter didn't receive every gift she desired; however, after a couple moments of disappointment her daughter wisely stated, "It doesn't matter. Jesus if the best gift of Christmas anyway." That's exactly what I'm going for with our children! (See this story on Heaven Not Harvard.)
After presents from Santa, I took Addie to an assisted living and rehab facility where we delivered the ornaments she had painted earlier in the month. Adeline picked out a specific ornament for each person and then I handed it to them as we wished them a Merry Christmas. She was terribly shy, understandably, but enjoyed prancing around the halls in her pajamas and fairy wings. My heart ached for the people in rehab and residence, as they sat alone on Christmas morning, but I was proud of Addie for brining them some Christmas spirit. As we were leaving, one of the workers stopped us to encourage me to keep doing things like this with Addie to teach her compassion and to stick up for others. He explained that he does similar things with his children and has seen how it has worked to help them speak up against bullying.
After we came back home, my mom arrived to do presents with our family. I love this series of pictures as the kids waited for her to walk in, and Lincoln's reaction once he sees her (and the presents!).
One of Addie's favorite gifts was this adorable Elsa beanie and both kids love (and fight over) this ride along Thomas train.
After naps, we spent the rest of Christmas with Tim's family. The highlight was spending Christmas with the newest addition to the Ashcraft clan, a sweet baby girl. Addie was so excited and proud to hold her baby cousin. Her smile says it all.
When Tim and I came home that night we were spent! After the kids were in bed we spent the evening talking about how blessed our children are to be surrounded by such love on Christmas. The abundance of presents was overwhelming, but we know it's an expression of love on behalf of our families. I'm excited for future Christmases to comes, as our children get older and become more and more active in making this season one of giving, compassion, and honoring the birth of Jesus. It's easy to start feeling guilty about our blessings, but I'm quick to remind myself that we are blessed so that we have the opportunity to bless others and love them to Christ. May the spirit of Christmas continue to light up your 2016. God bless.