Faith · Parenting · Perspective · Uncategorized

Christmas List – Oh wait! It’s only November….

This morning during a lull at work, I typed up an email with a Christmas list for my kids and sent it off to my sisters’ and parent’s email addresses. My kids won’t end up with every item on the list. (THANK GOODNESS!) These are just ideas.

Last weekend, my girlfriends and I were discussing Christmas lists and how/if/why you give or don’t give gifts for kids. We were all of the consensus that we are flooded under with toys. Three quarters of our group never buys the “Christmas toys of the year” as they are so ridiculously hyped. I looked at the top 12 “must haves” for this year and didn’t see a single one that even slightly piqued my interest.

Let’s be honest – Gremlin (80’s) to Furby (90’s) to Hatchimal (now). Seeing any resemblance???



Half of us ask those who are planning to give gifts to do one toy and then contribute to the future educational fund. I might be the only one who doesn’t do a “Santa gift…” but my 7 year old asked if Santa was real a few years ago and I broke it down for him – history of the holiday and the real spirit of giving freely and generously that we should all have.

Call me the Grinch? What can I say? I told him I’d always tell him the truth. I did ask him to keep that information to himself so that other kids (sister included) could ask when he/she is ready.


Without further adieu – the Christmas list:

S kids for Christmas

From mom and dad – bikes and lap desks, new family board game

T would like some sort of mp3 player (hand-held music that he can download songs and plug into his radio/speaker that mom and dad got him. Will need bluetooth or ability to attach cord)

new bike helmet – not child sized, but probably adult small? 
more cows for his toy farm, Schlaag size (the ones at Orschelns)
Grain truck for his toy farm
Contigo, Camelbak or similar short flip top water bottle
Tall sports socks – size medium big boys
bath color tablets
Circuit snaps or Simple Robotics kits

M would like barbie clothes, doll clothes, a new stroller for her dolls (she has totaled two… the babies get hauled around our house a lot!)
lip gloss
Melissa and Doug pizza kit
Contigo, Camelbak or similar short flip top water bottle
Kelsea Ballerini CD — any of them
bath paints – Crayola. we had another brand that left hives on the kids soooo, I know Crayola doesn’t
bath color tablets
Fancy Nancy books- we have fancy classroom, fancy day, and fancy cupcakes
stick on earrings

Please no fidget spinners, Shopkins, Num Nums, or Tsum Tsums. OUTLAWED in our house.

If you have never heard of Snap Circuits, let me introduce you. These are fantastically designed for the child that loves to create and spends hours working on Lego creations. Only these come with a twist – electricity via a couple AA batteries. Can be done independently or with a friend or adult!
Both my children have outgrown their bikes. The seats are adjusted all the way up. They ride all year round when the weather permits it. Miles and miles of bike riding within a few miles of our home!
If you noticed, we tend to mix in things that they need such as special socks (not just your standard white or black), new packages of underwear, sometimes a new character based toothbrush, and a new water bottle. Our school encourages kids to bring their own water bottles to keep in the classroom, thus ours are used all twelve months of the year and at least 5 days a week.
Who doesn’t love bath paints, bath color drops, and stick on earrings as little throw in items or stocking stuffers?
stick on earrings
We also like to shop for others both in our family and community. This is our first year to pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. The kids are excited to do this! I’ve gathered suggestions from our friends for the ages that we are packing for. Looks like we will likely be putting in a water bottle, wash cloth, crayons, stickers, toy car – boy, hair pretties or a jump rope – girl, little bars of soap, and …. What are you favorite things to pack in an OCC shoebox?
What’s on the Christmas lists at your house? Do you celebrate Christmas or give gifts?
Faith · Family · Perspective

Jenny Grinch and the Spirit of Christmas

I’ve got my Christmas music on. I opened three more Christmas cards when the mail grinch-02arrived. I’ve read my devotion for the day. And still… it’s easy to see my reflection in the mirror as the Grinch. I don’t get it. I’m just struggling.

Could it be that I’m trying to juggle too many things right now? Home projects, work, parenting responsibilities, normal home upkeep like laundry & dishes, and then of course, Christmas preparations. I’m definitely not burning the midnight oil trying to get everything done. I was so cooked by the time I got the kids home, fed and in jammies, and spent 30 minutes on and off connecting with my husband while taking on the kid responsibilities – I cashed it in at 7:30pm.

Honestly, I think the root of it is the focus of Christmas this year. My focus since childhood has been on celebrating Jesus’s birth with church family and biological/ extended family. That is personal for me. Believer or non-believer, Christmas flat-out MEANS something to most people and it typically isn’t all about the gifts.

WANT, Want, want….

This year I’ve been bombarded for 2 months about “what does child A and child B want?” Can I be completely honest here? We live a pretty simple life. We work and are humbly successful. No flashy Joneses here. These children of mine are happy with sticks and rocks. No, truly they are. Child A got in trouble (repeatedly) for a sassy mouth and had his room cleaned out and stored in trash bags. He got to keep his bed, covers & pillow, and puzzles and books. You know what he was thrilled playing with when all the fluff was removed? Cardboard boxes and nuts and bolts from the junk drawer.  Child B likes to play with stickers, crayons, and markers. She is creative. She rocks her dolls to sleep and drags them all over the house in the blankets I used when my littles were babies.

gifts013Last night as I was talking to my husband, I realized that this is the drain I’ve been feeling. The focus on this holiday has been put on the material side of life. How much are you spending? Will my 6 year old like this $100 gift? Does my 4 year old want this $100 sparkly item? Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. Make it stop.

What to do?

My hubs agreed with me that this is NOT how we are going to live. So how do I fix this?  Do we outlaw gifts? We agreed that is pretty extreme and not really a mountain we want to climb with our families at this point. (A conversation will be necessary before next year though to prevent the madness experienced this year.) He took the first step by talking to my father-in-law. I also talked to one of my sisters and my mother about my concerns about the focus being too gift-centered.

I am actively looking for local options for our family to volunteer or celebrate OUR reason for the SEASON with others with a giving, humble, and loving heart. We will celebrate with our local church family this coming Sunday and again on Christmas Day. We will read the Christmas story and talk about its meaning. We will write thank-you notes for the gifts we do receive. If our home project is far enough along and I have an oven, we will make Jesus a birthday cake and invite a widowed neighbor over to share it. We MUST refocus on our personal reason for the season of Christmas. It speaks so much louder than words when we put our gratitude, love, kindness, and care for others in action.

I refuse to let this become just another holiday marked with material stuff.

Christmas Letter – Part Deux

Now that I’ve wrapped my head around all of that, I think I can punch out a fabulous Christmas letter. My Grinchiness was giving me writer’s block and I’m pretty sure it would have been a bitter bite to arrive in the mail.

Onward and upward. Time to write the family Christmas letter…

With Love – Jenny Grinch