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Christmas and Montessori, incompatible? (Three years later)

Dec 16, 2019 • Montessori
Photo credit: Fabio Caponetti

Three years ago today, I published a post about our way of living Christmas, and when I read it again today I surprisingly still liked it! Although sometimes old posts don’t resonate with me anymore after many years—because I’m ever evolving—this one was still very in line with what I feel today.

I’d like to invite you to read it, because in today’s post, after experiencing three Christmases (2016, 2017 and 2018), I’ll tell you how what I wrote three years ago reflected in our real life, and I’ll do it in my beloved web-thinking style (that I know where to start and never where it ends).

  • Every year we had a Christmas tree. It was fun to decorate it together, although not really as romantic as I thought—the first year Oliver helped me for ten minutes before getting bored, the second year Emily was trying to eat all the decorations, and the third year it was stolen from our garage (I had decided not to buy it again, because we were leaving soon for our world tour, but my mom surprised us with a new one).   
  • Christmas 2016, we tried to start a new tradition of exchanging gifts on the 1st day of the year: I wanted to give my kids the magic of gifts under the Christmas tree, but as we’re not religious, we decided to celebrate the beginning of the new year, instead of the birth of Jesus. While it was a nice idea, it lasted only that year (keep reading to understand why).
  • Two years ago we embarked on our eco-friendly journey, which led us to be more aware of the stuff we own, need and buy. Buying gifts on Christmas just for the sake of the gift simply felt wrong, so we tried to drop the tradition and we didn’t miss gifts. Nowadays, in our family we buy what we need when we need it, or give a special extra gift when we feel like it, without waiting for birthdays, Christmases or special events.
  • We never felt the need to pretend that Santa is real. Kids see it everywhere, know the story of the Christmas night, we tell it to them, and we talk about it for what it is: a beautiful story. If one day the kids will want to pretend that Santa is real, I'll be happy to go with it knowing that it's just a game and that we all know the truth.
  • Even without believing in Santa, every year we have enjoyed the Christmas atmosphere, lights, and songs, which are a must in our house.
  • Every year, the only thing that I really looked forward to was spending time with my people—my family and our friends Marisa, Niko, Bella and Aysha. For us, this is what Christmas is about.
  • We're lucky, because for the most part, my family has respected our way of Christmas, and we have respected their desire to give gifts (or to open a chocolate egg at Easter). Compromise is the key to happiness. Only one year, despite having talked with my mom about the way we could all enjoy Christmas while still respecting each other’s beliefs and traditions, she had a friend dress up as Santa Claus. I wish she had talked to us to find a compromise together (for example, her friend revealing himself instead of pretending to fly out the balcony!): compromise is key when it comes to relationships. And I also wish I hadn’t gotten as upset as I did. We’re all in this journey of life together, and we live and learn as we go.
  • As in everything parenthood related, nowadays we’re a lot more easy-going. Maybe because by now our values and principles are a a lot clearer and rooted, and we don’t feel the uncertainty of our first year of being parents. But also because we now know that parenthood means learning to find a balance between the way we ideally want to raise our children, they way others want us to raise our children and the way we actually raise them.
  • This year we’ll have yet a different Christmas, because we’re in Hoi An, Vietnam, as part of our world tour, and we’ll celebrate it the way it comes. We don’t have plans, expectations, or needs, and this year, too, we feel like we already have everything we could possibly ask for. And more.

Happy Christmas, everybody!

PS. How do you celebrate Christmas in your family?

PS2. Here’s a podcast I enjoyed about this subject: 5 Tips For Enjoying The Magic Of Christmas — Montessori Style by Aubrey Hargis, who’s always a source of inspiration.

PS3. Anecdote behind the photo: one of my followers, Stefania, wrote to me while we were in Hanoi, saying they were there too and asking if we wanted to meet in person. We spend a beautiful afternoon and the kids played together non stop. This is the real beauty of social media.