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Christmas Stockings & What To Do With Santa?

I always LOVED opening Christmas Stockings on Christmas morning. It was one of my favourite things about Christmas. Waking up to find the stocking you'd left there was mysteriously filled with all sorts of new sparkly and yummy goodies that were all mine.

With my kids being 2 and 3 this Christmas I am feeling the pressure (completely self-imposed) to make sure I'm creating all the traditions that will make Christmas magical for them, but at the same time I've never been more aware of the negative sides to all the indulgence, the inequality, the pollution... Ooooh what a dampener!
I am also conflicted about Santa - what do I tell the kids? I am a big believer in imagination, wonder, creativity, story and all of that is what delights children so much about Christmastime. The reindeers, the elves, the toy factory, all of it. So I am reluctant to deprive them of that. On the other hand, the idea that some slightly overweight person watches kids behaviour and rewards them with in many cases a whole lot of discardable junk is a weird one. I'm sure you've thought about these things too. Is that something I want to celebrate in my home? Hmmmmm.

And then there's Saint Nick. Patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, children, brewers, pawnbrokers and students. The one who started it all! And actually it is his kind of heart that I want to be able to represent to my kids at this time of year. And so, I have come up with what I think is a brilliant first step towards that balance of tradition and creating the world I want my kids to grow up in. And it's not a huge thing. It's just a token. But I hope that it instills in my kids something even more special than the wonder of magical gifts turning up but plants the seeds for the people I hope they become. And hey, side note, I am so not there yet myself. But my whole year has been about small steps in the right direction and for now that is enough.

My Brilliant Idea

My brilliant idea is this. On Christmas Eve - which is conveniently on a Saturday this year so we can really milk this thing and ALL be involved (that's you too Aaron ;), we will choose some 'things' that we want to give away. Some of our special things that we think someone else might be able to use or love. We are going to treat our stockings like an exchange portal. And I'm totally going to let the kids lead this. Whatever they see as valuable or worth giving I'm going to go with it! Whether it's a preloved soft toy, food from the cupboards, or something undoubtedly more random than that, I am going to do my best to not control it (!!!) and to really validate their choices. Because it is about the experience of giving, their hearts forming, and them being empowered (in a tiny way) to think of others.

We are going to fill our stockings with those things as part of our Christmas Eve tradition (along with leaving food out for the reindeer and gluten & dairy free cookies out for Santa. We all know he don't need no more gluten. Ha). Then I hope to eloquently instil in them the sentiment behind giving something away in return for something new. I also hope they are actually old enough to get this. I'm sure Eliza will have a hard time parting with any of her precious things. I tried to broach the subject a little bit today when out of the blue she asked me "why did people give me ponies for my birthday when I like bunnies?". Firstly I said because they know she likes all animals. To which she replied "but I like bunnies the best". So then I said well maybe we could give the ponies to another child who will really love them. To which I received a swift "no". Will keep trying. She is possibly having flashbacks to the day we packaged up her dummies and put them in the hanging bird house for a little birdie to take to another baby because she was so big now... She loved it up until she realised the birdie really had taken them away and they were never coming back. But the story got us through a couple of tricky days and she did sleep again.

So what do you think of my idea? How are you teaching your kids to be generous and think of others this silly season? I would love to know.

A Little Bit More About Saint Nick

Saint Nicholas (15 March 270 – 6 December 343), also called Nikolaos of Myra, was a historic 4th-century Christian saint and Greek Bishop of Myra, in Asia Minor (modern-day Demre, Turkey). Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as Nikolaos the Wonderworker. His reputation evolved among the faithful, as was common for early Christian saints, and his legendary habit of secret gift-giving gave rise to the traditional model of Santa Claus through Sinterklaas.

In his most famous exploit, Nicholas aided a poor man who had three daughters, but could not afford a proper dowry for them. This meant that they would remain unmarried and probably, in absence of any other possible employment, would have to become prostitutes. Hearing of the girls' plight, Nicholas decided to help them, but being too modest to help the family in public (or to save them the humiliation of accepting charity), he went to the house under the cover of night and threw three purses (one for each daughter) filled with gold coins through the window opening into the house.

In another version, Nicholas drops the third bag down the chimney instead; a variant holds that the daughter had washed her stockings that evening and hung them over the embers to dry, and that the bag of gold fell into the stocking. (Thanks Wikipedia!).


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