Thursday, October 30, 2014

Holidays? Humbug, I say!

Many people give me troubled glances, others mumble "well to each his own, I guess," while secretly feeling sorry for my children, and others just right call me a holiday Scrooge. All of this happens because (drumroll, please) I don't get into the BIG holidays or even birthdays.

There I said it, and I know many of you probably gasped, or called me a heretic. But it's true, holidays really aren't my thing, nor are birthdays. Let me give you some examples to illustrate.

For Halloween this year my preschooler borrowed a Batman costume at the last minute (today) in order to dress up for class tomorrow. We won't be taking our kids trick-or-treating. We will be taking them to their grandparent's house for a special treat, though, so it's not without some perks. But we have no plans to ever take them trick-or-treating (we don't like it, or the amount of candy they get). I don't even decorate for this holiday.

We don't do Santa at Christmas; nor do we do Elf-on-the-Shelf. Christmas at our house comprises a tree, some presents, and 25 days of learning about Jesus and the important role he played on earth and in our own lives.

Easter isn't about the Easter Bunny at our house. He and candy are noticeabl absent.

New Year's, what's that? With little kids in the house we all go to bed as quickly as possible.

Birthdays include a dinner at home, and some presents. We try to do something fun together as a family, but hardly ever have big parties. We only ever have parties with Alan's side of the family because my mother-in-law mentions that they would like to celebrate the boys too (which is awesome, and she is awesome for thinking of us). My birthday? Don't even get me started. As long as someone says happy birthday to me, I'm good. That's all I need.

So I'm kind of lame about many "fun" holidays, and I'm okay with that. For my family the usual traditions do not contribute happiness to our family, nor do they help uphold our family's priorities. Now, please don't get mad or offended. This is how my husband and I feel. What we do is what is right for OUR family. There is nothing wrong with the traditional ways to celebrate holidays and birthdays, we just don't do them. To show you that we still celebrate holidays and how to emphasize what's important to our family let me talk about those holidays that we do celebrate!

For Easter we have devotionals every day to talk about Jesus's final week on Earth. We discuss the Atonement and the implications it has on our lives. We use a wonderful book called "God So Loved the World" by Eric D. Huntsman (link) to format and focus our devotionals. The book outlines the events of each day of the Final Week. It has scriptures, historical background, and music to go along with each day. We use those scriptures  to teach our children about the Atonement and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Savior.

For Memorial Day we go to historic Camp Floyd and talk about the military during the Civil War. We have a picnic and spend time together as a family. We also try to stop by Alan's grandparents' graves and talk about their lives. Honoring our ancestors is important to us because we feel that families are forever. Knowing about those who have come before can help us know who we are, and what our family stands for.

For the Fourth of July we go to the zoo because for us it's free that day. Afterwards we have a little party with some close friends of ours. We haven't yet made it to the fireworks because of young children and bedtimes. Any holiday celebrating America or the military is big at our house because of my husband being in the military. This year for the Fourth, I'll try to help Karl understand exactly why this date is so important to our family. In years past I have felt that he was too young to wrap his head around the complex ideas that comprise the American Revolution.
Karl overcoming his fear of gorillas at the zoo this year.
Labor Day is spent with Alan's family at a family reunion, forging bonds of closeness with the cousins. Alan always loved going to a local water park with his mother's family every year as a kid, and so do my kids. It's one that helps forge good family bonds and so in my opinion is a huge win! This year was a little different because of financial constraints, but we still hung out with Alan's sister and her family. We took our awesome new canoe and made it quite a fun day.
Canoeing for Labor Day this year. 

Veteran's Day: we're starting a new tradition this year and going to the VA hospital to visit with war veterans and hear their stories. Honoring our veterans is EXTREMELY important to Alan since he knows so many and is serving in the military himself.

 I've always loved Thanksgiving, so I make a pretty big deal about that. I put together a gratitude craft and turkey crafts, and we spend time with extended family. Thanksgiving is a huge object lesson for teaching gratitude and I go all out for that.
Karl making a gratitude tree last year
As I said, Christmas we focus on Christ and have daily devotionals from December 1 until Christmas that talk about Jesus's life and teach our children uplifting music. We have a tree, and decorate it with homemade decorations together as a family. This year we'll be joining my parents and going up to the forest to cut our own tree. That's a tradition from my childhood that I love and that we are going to incorporate into our own family. On Christmas morning we eat homemade cinnamon rolls. Last year, my husband made them! We love Christmas at our house, but we just leave out Santa, the Elf, and other things that we think are frivolous and detract from the real season. We encourage service all year, but especially at Christmas time. Presents are made and bought for friends and family, showing the love we have for each.

Our beautiful Christmas tree last year
I do want to do a little more for birthdays in the future. I love my children and I'm so excited that they were born and are part of our family. I want them to know that, and so I feel that a celebration is in order. It will still probably not be a large celebration, but I will do everything I can to provide them a day that shows them that I love them so very much. And if that means a party with friends and games, then by golly I'll do it!

If Halloween ever becomes a big deal to my kids, then we will throw a little costume party, and maybe (MAYBE) even take them trick-or-treating.

I'm happy with our choice to do holidays our way. We have traditions that we all love, and that focus on what we want our children to focus on. I think that's what every family should strive to do. Focus on those special days (they don't even have to be real holidays!) that mean something to your family and make them a big deal. Don't get sucked into doing something that is bad for your health, or bad for your family just because of the bandwagon that everyone else is doing it. Make traditions that YOU love, and that help contribute to a happy family.

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