In addition to this, we have also added a stocking tradition. I love, love, love the pretty stockings made of velvet and embroidered with something shiny. Unfortunately, these aren’t cheap. Last year, I tried shopping for some at after-Christmas sales, but didn’t find anything which matched what was already going on with our Christmas decor. I wasn’t in a hurry, since Si and I had already decided that we would simply add one stocking each year until everybody had one.
Trust me. The one-year-old and the three-month-old just aren’t going to notice that they don’t have a stocking.
So back to the three gifts. I sort of consider the number three to be a bit symbolic. For instance, there are the verses that speak of Jesus growing in strength, wisdom, and grace and also in wisdom, stature, and in favor with God and man.
It is the latter verse which has become a sort of theme for the children’s education, an encouragement to me to make it well-rounded and not ignore any facet of humanity in favor of another. In strength or stature, we see physical growth and improvement. This would include good health and nutrition and also increased physical performance. In wisdom we see not only the ability to know right from wrong and choose what is good, but also the ancient concept of “wisdom” meaning skill. Wisdom involved arriving at mastery of a task. The child grows into an adult who has certain proficiencies. And then there is favor, or grace. The child becomes a man who lives righteously before the Lord and lives well with his fellow citizens. I am sure that could be expounded upon endlessly.
I always see these gifts as working toward accomplishing some or all of these aims. Just as the Wise Men from the East gave gifts that had true meaning for the Lord, so I hope that our gifts have real meaning for our children, that they are useful and encouraging.
We have never been in the position to be very extravagant, especially considering that there are four little ones to buy for (our tradition is also that babies only receive one gift, the first book of their libraries, for their first Christmas). However, God is sometimes very extravagant in His generosity toward His children, so I don’t think that Christians need disdain the occasional Christmas lavishing in the name of avoiding materialism.
I’m just saying.
Anyhow, I always love the gifts we end up purchasing for our children. I do not like meaningless gifts, and seek to give thoughtful gifts, no matter how small. This year is no exception. Typically, our gifts fall into three categories: an article of clothing, a “toy”, and a book. I am going to have to work on finding a better word than “toy” as they grow older. Usually, this gift is focused on developing a skill or a hobby or enhancing something they have been working on. Something like that.
So here is what is in order for this Christmas:
This year, the three older children will be receiving some winter dress clothing. The girls are getting sweater-dresses that sparkle and white cotton tights. Since Baby O. has a nice sweater already, we decided to buy E. a nice sweater and hope to get a good family photo before winter ends. E. enjoys looking nice for church, so I think he will enjoy a sweater similar to what his daddy sometimes wears.
I don’t usually make their gifts the same, but this year we went with it since they are all sharing some interests right now. The two little girls are getting lap desks (I finally found some simple ones that don’t have Dora plastered all over them) that have side compartments which we’re stuffing with washable crayons and markers. E. is ready to graduate to a more mature art, I think, so we found a beginning artist’s set that has pastels, water colors, and also some nicer colored pencils (he prefers pencils). We also invested in some nice watercolor paper so that he can paint without soaking the paper.
I think it is probably no secret that this is my favorite part. The children get one book on Christmas and one on their birthdays. I usually seek out hardbacks, though this year I couldn’t find hardback copies of the books I thought were best, so we went with paperbacks.
Richard of Jamestown: A Story of Virginia Colony
by James Otis
We recently read Pilgrim Stories By Margaret Pumphrey and also Johnny Tremain. E. has really been relishing the tales from early America. Incidently, in Johnny Tremain, a Son of Liberty named James Otis (perhaps the author’s namesake?) gives a riveting speech concerning human liberty.
The Secret Garden
by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Every library needs beautiful copy of The Secret Garden, right? We are actually giving a slightly different edition than the one pictured above, but I think it will be perfect for this particular child (Daughter A.), who likes to touch things. The cover is velveteen, and also very pretty.
by Barbara Cooney
I have never read Miss Rumphius, though I adore Barbara Cooney. I am told that Miss Rumphius believes a person should make the world more beautiful, and near the end she does this by planting flowers. I think our cheerful little sprite, Baby Q., will love it.
by Barbara Cooney
This focus of this book is really the life (from infancy to death–a complete life) of the youngest son of a homeschooling family who lives a self-sustaining life on an island. It has a Little House on the Prairie feel in terms of their farming life. It shows a working family economy, an essentially old-American life. The illustrations are beautiful, which is fitting for such a winsome tale. Something about it reminds me of Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House. I love that this youngest son sleeps in his parent’s bedroom as an infant and then there is one big bedroom, separated by a curtain, in which his eleven older siblings sleep. Baby O. sleeps in our room, which is our tradition concerning infants. Can you tell I connected with this book? Our older children did, too, when we read it in a bookstore a while back.
This year, there are two children receiving stockings. Both will contain some special snacks I bought at the grocery store, and also rolled-up pajamas. They both need warmer pajamas, but I’ve been putting it off so that they can enjoy receiving them on Christmas morning!
One Last Tradition
I think it worth a parting mention that I always do laundry on Christmas. This way, everyone can wear their new clothing right away. Sometimes I do it in the morning, sometimes in the evening, but I always make sure it is done.
What are you buying for Christmas?
I’d tell you the rest of what I’m buying (or making), but too many of the adults in my life read my blog…
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