Happy Birthday JesusI love Christmas. I love the smells, the lights, the feeling of giving. But every year for me it’s a struggle to work with my daughter to reminder her that Christmas is’t about the gifts or Santa, it’s about Jesus. And my very favorite Christmas tradition has become baking a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas eve, singing happy birthday to Jesus on Christmas morning, then eating cake for breakfast. This year, while making the cake, my daughter turned to me and asked, “Mom, how old is Jesus turning?”

For SantaIn years past, we always made cookies for Santa as well, but this year be tried something different. We cut Santa a piece of Jesus’s birthday cake because, “Santa would like to celebrate Jesus’ birthday too. After all, that’s why Santa brings us gifts.” My daughter thought that was a good idea. Our singing to Jesus the next morning involved a cake with a slice missing, but that was okay – Santa deserved it.

Another thing we tried this year was dialing down the Santa gifts. In the past, Santa brought a bunch of stuff, and so did Mom and Dad. Our daughter isn’t spoiled, but it was hard to figure out where to limit things. I read about doing wise men gifts – just 3 – so that’s what Santa did. Santa brought 3 gifts: one fun thing, one thing she needed, and one thing to help her grow closer to God. Santa also filled her stocking (and hides the pickle ornament, which is an awesome tradition, btw), and that was it. All other gifts came from Dad and Mom. It was a great way for us to tone down Santa, but still have a bit of the fun. (And since she’s four, she didn’t remember the prior years; it was an easy switch.)

Christmas TreeThe final thing we’d focused on through the month of December was our daughter’s giving stocking (another idea I found online – you can read about them here). Rather than have her regular stocking hanging up all month for her to think about being filled, we found a small stocking to hang in it’s place. When my daughter was helpful or kind, we put a bit of money in her stocking. Once the month was over, she added up her money and got to choose something to buy fromĀ She wanted to buy a cow, but she didn’t *quite* have enough money – so some chickens had to do this time. She looked forward to being a good helper and getting to earn money to help someone who was less fortunate than us through the month instead of thinking about the goodies Santa was going to put into her Stocking – a drastic improvement, and a change we will be keeping (this is the second year we did this, and is was better understood by her at age 4 than age 3. I’m assuming it’ll work even better as she gets older).

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