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LITTLE PARENT ON THE PRAIRIE by Tracy Kirby

Creating Our Own Traditions Oh sweet December, you have arrived. Your blustery winds, icy streets and ethereal cascading snowfall all signify the beginning of an enchanting season. Christmastime. Just the mention of Christmas evokes deep-seated emotion for many of us as the holiday isn’t just gifts, warm red Starbucks cups and catchy Christmas carols, but also a holiday that holds profound meaning. Some derive significance from the fact that historically the holiday marks the birth of Jesus Christ, others find meaning in the giving and hope of the season, and still others find meaning in the traditions that draw their family together year after year. For our small family of three and three-quarters (I always include our gigantic canine in our family count), the Christmas season is significant for all the reasons listed above.

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This year, however, as our daughter has reached a certain level of understanding, we realize that this is the year she will really begin to comprehend the traditions we establish. Last year in this very column, I wrote about today’s frenzied, commercialized version of Christmas and how I desperately wanted to teach my daughter the opposite of “I want, I want, I want” – not only during Christmastime, but throughout the year. My husband and I have an ongoing conversation surrounding this topic. We have concluded that there are a few traditions we want to establish when it comes to Christmastime – and one tradition that we have decided to leave out (brace yourselves, ye Christmas lovers). That is promoting the belief of Santa Claus to our children. Imagine me ducking behind a snowy pine tree right now as I know some of you are throwing some serious “Bah! Humbug!” darts my way. If you are, fear not. I throw no darts back at you. I absolutely understand that Santa Claus is fun and adds another element of magic to the holiday season. But here’s the deal for me: Santa Claus is a fun story. Just like Frosty the Snowman, Snoopy or Charlie Brown are fun stories. I will absolutely share the Santa story with my daughter and watch the timeless movies with her. The only difference is, I won’t pretend Santa really exists and go to extreme lengths to convince her of his existence, only to one day have to convince her otherwise. Instead, we have decided to make the season magical in other ways. One of them being, in lieu of making an exhaustive list of “wants,” why not let children make a list of a few top desires and then really place attention on the list of fun things they want to do for others? Then come Christmas morning, they have the joy of not only getting gifts, but seeing how it feels to give. Ironically, the man Santa Claus is based on, Saint Nicholas, did just that. After his wealthy parents died, Saint Nick spent his entire inheritance helping the needy by giving away much-needed gifts. So, as the snow falls and the tree tops glisten this month, my desire is to conjure up the real magic of Christmas for my family and me. The magic in giving. The transformative act of sacrifice and the joy in hope this season brings. I pray the same for you. Merry Christmas! Follow Tracy on her blog, www.littleparentontheprairie.com. She would love to hear from you!


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