Santa came early again this year. He heard that we were going to be out of country for Christmas Day so he sent Tommy the Elf to let us know he would be coming the morning of the 19th. We had a week to prepare for the big day!
One thing that is very different about celebrating Christmas in a non-Christian country is that we are not surrounded by the sights and sounds of Christmas. Christmas becomes what WE make of it and we have to try extra hard to get into the spirit. There is no music playing for weeks before in stores while we shop. We see no commercials on tv suggesting the latest and greatest toys to our kids. Some people on camp decorate the outside of their houses to aid in setting the mood but I would say it is an average of 1-3 houses per street that are decorated. So, if we are not careful, Christmas sneaks up on us!
Because there is minimal exposure to ads suggesting things to put on their lists, the idea of writing a list was almost forgotten this year. And really, I don't push it since my shopping was done this summer and getting to a store to pick up something on a list is hard and very expensive (things are marked up about 4x what I can get it for in the States).
Owen was the only one that wrote a list and I'm sure that came from the
school yard chatter amongst his friends who were all talking about it.
Owen's list was sweet out of the 10 things one it, 4 of them were for
others. A plant for me. Treats for the cat. A toy for the dog. And
something for Ivy. Now that is the real meaning of Christmas.
This year we kept Christmas small. I had recently read an article that suggested giving small gifts from Santa and have the bigger gifts be from mom and dad. The idea behind it was trying to have an equality amongst kids from those who get minimal to those who get a lot. It is hard to explain to little ones why Santa gives big gifts to some and small gifts to others and it also helps kids understand that Santa doesn't have a huge expense budget, no these big items are costly and things mommy and daddy work very hard to provide!
A lot of the things we gave were things they needed, like new shoes and new jammies, as well as things that fostered reading and gave ideas of new activities and travel! Gifts that keep giving!
Christmas morning was awesome. So many fun items were opened, a lot of
them the kids remembered seeing this summer and begging for so they were
happy to see them Christmas morning!
What they don't know is that we have one more gift to give them.... it is a t-shirt that will give them a hint of their big gift from us this year! That gift they will open on December 23! So stay tuned to see how we will be spending our Christmas day!
Until then, we will enjoy hanging out at the house playing with all of our new toys! Enjoying our time together and making the most of the beautiful weather!
Skyping with Uncle De and Teetee Bec! I love this Christmas tradition we have done the last several years!!! They skype in with us and just watch as we open gifts! It lets them be a part of the fun despite the miles between us!
Another tradition we have is eating breakfast casserole for breakfast! This is something Brad grew up eating so he is in charge of this. He makes it the night before and it cooks while we open presents! When the gifts have been opened the casserole is ready to eat! Perfect!! Today Ivy joined us for this Brewster tradition!
We wrapped up our Christmas morning by going to church. One reason we picked today to celebrate it was that it is our Holy Day in Saudi so we knew we could attend our "community group" and be reminded of the real reason for the season! After that we headed home and Brad and I cooked up a huge lunch! It looks a lot like a Thanksgiving meal since hams are hard to come by here!!! : ) Unfortunately Ethan ended up getting a fever and fell asleep on the couch while we were cooking so he missed out on the afternoon of fun. I was just thankful he felt pretty good this morning so he had fun opening gifts and playing up until we left for group!
We also had Ivy invite over one of her friends to celebrate Christmas with her. Holidays are sweeter with friends, especially when celebrating your first one away from your family! For us, this is our second Christmas to spend in Saudi. Amazed that the time has flown by. Thankful we are able to continue family traditions here in the Land of the Sand and make the most of the Season while reminding our kids while we celebrate. Sad to be away from friends and family back home but blessed to be surrounded by our family and new friends! Merry Christmas to all and enjoy this time with the ones that mean the most to you!