Every home has its own traditions for the Christmas season.  Even those who do not intentionally celebrate the holiday can not help but be exposed to and influenced by it.  Christmas permeates our culture, and not just locally but globally.  In one form or another, it has been part of historical celebration since even before the Christian era from which it gets its name.  Pagan origins, morphing caricatures and the meaning of Christmas are the subject of intense debate.  I chose not to let all of that matter in our home.   As Christmas has evolved throughout time, it continues to do so in our home.  I’m finding that perhaps the seasons of our lives shape the way we embrace or move away from holiday seasons as well.  In this period of my life, holidays are seen through the eyes of my children. As we find something no longer serves purpose or brings joy, we are letting it go.  As we find new ways to celebrate, we add them in.  Time with family is central to all holidays for us, but Christmas is perhaps the singular time of year that a person really wants those we love and those who love us to be close.  That’s just not always possible.  This year will be the first Christmas our oldest daughter has not been at my parent’s home in Alaska to celebrate.  We are blessed to have good friends and each other to be with, but come the day of, I’m sure it will feel like a key piece of what makes Christmas, well Christmas, is just missing.   So with all the changes, here is where we are at this year.

I am raising my girls to be rooted in a Christ centered faith, that teaches them that what we do should honor Him and show His grace and love to each other and those around us.  So, much of our Christmas season includes the standard Judeo-Christian traditions mixed with other elements we’ve picked up along the way.  We will likely have some form of tree, special meal, twinkling lights, and holiday cards.  We will play Christmas music and celebrate the story of Jesus’ birth.  My oldest daughter is dancing in the local Nativity Ballet hosted at the Mt. Baker Theater, and we will attend church services.  Then there is gifts.

Gift giving is a central theme to Christmas.  With a holiday dominated by presents, often with packaging more beautiful even than what is inside, it is difficult not to become consumed by wanting and shopping.  It is fun and exciting to be both giving and receiving – but how much is enough?  At what point is it gross excess that truly defeats the joy of Christmas and breeds just ugly greed and exhaustion?  I want gifting to be an ongoing and special part of our holiday tradition, but like many people, I often feel overwhelmed by the intense consumerism.  We have been making a conscious effort to slowly but surely simplify our lives – to live smaller and choose quality over quantity.  A commitment that has to be re-established constantly.  I also want to gift some season joy to those around us who for whatever reasons do not find Christmas to be a time of year worth celebrating – it’s hard and it hurts.  I have a person and also a place that I want to serve here in Bellingham this holiday, and am excited to have my girls partner with me in that.  My wish list this year is to model contentment to my children and grace in giving to others.  I want them to find true joy in both. 

How will you celebrate Christmas in your home?  Are you embracing or moving away from the festivities of the holiday?  What brings you joy this time of year?  How are you bringing joy to someone else?

A section I read from the book Parent’s Tao Te Ching reminded me that everything I do at this stage of my life is about parenting.  Parenting is about modeling…. Being the change we want in our communities and our world starts with us- with modeling….

To be a wise parent you must become like water.

It is content to nourish all it touches without discrimination.

While people struggle to move up,

water flows joyfully down,  feeling the low places.

As you care for your children keep their environment uncluttered, free of useless gadgets and distractions.

Keep your conversation honest and straightforward, free of control and manipulation.

Keep your decisions fair and generous, free of punishment and shame.

As you conduct your life, be serene and joyful, content and at peace.

This will be your greatest legacy.

Nothing nurtures a child like a parent who takes great pleasure from a simple activity, and is content with the present moment.

Are you modeling contentment or always wanting ‘more?’

Wishing every Alaskan home a truly Merry Christmas !

Dr. Summer Beattie, ND is a graduate of Bastyzr University.  She has over 8 years experience as a Naturopathic Doctor specializing in women’s health with an emphasis on environmental medicine.  Having served two terms on the board of directors for the Washington Association of Naturopathic Physicians, she has also worked in the medical aesthetics field since 2008.  You can reach her at onehealingcenter@gmail.com or