Christmas. Cookie baking, tree trimming, fancy-meal preparing, joy giving, and merry-making. Christmas. I do love Christmas, but I must admit…it has not always been such a joy to celebrate. In our first few years of marriage we struggled to keep up with it all. The parties, the traditions, and the expectations. I had it in my mind that everything had to be just perfect, otherwise no one would have any fun. I also felt as though I had to keep up every tradition that my family, and even other families held….even if we did not enjoy the tradition at all.
Oh, it has been a battle…..to simplify. We are a family of purpose, and because of that we needed to celebrate with purpose, not just celebrate the way “it has always been done”. So, with careful consideration, we have eliminated many things that just added stress and pressure to our family. I am not going to tell you how you should celebrate, but I will give you a little insight to how we came to the conclusion of Simplicity in our Christmas celebration.
Now we have finally established some traditions that we absolutely love!
Parties-I like casual, sweet, often last minute thrown-together parties ( I find the longer they are planned the more I feel I need to prepare and fret over every detail). I love to cook, so a delicious Portobello-Cranberry Brisket with mashed potatoes and a lovely Christmas salad are fun to prepare for Christmas Eve. But not every party needs an elaborate spread, and if for some reason the meal does not turn out it is never worth loosing my temper over. It is just dinner..we always have crackers, cheese and summer sausage on hand during the Holidays to quickly remedy a new recipe-gone bad! Think about it, the last party that you were at and the host lost her cool, you wanted to run to the nearest exit…awkward…no fun!
We also have simplified the amount of parties we attend. Just because we are invited, does not mean we should overload our family schedule.
Our family also loves to invite others to join our family for the festivities. There have been a few years that we have invited folks who lived states away from relatives. They are so grateful to be able to celebrate with others when they are missing those who are far away.
Gifts- We try to give 3….yup 3. Christ was given 3 by the Magi….so 3 it is for our kiddos too. Some years this has worked out great, others we end up with more…but I love that our kids don’t expect piles and piles of loot on Christmas morning. They usually receive one complete outfit and 2 other gifts. Their gifts are fun, well thought out and personalized just for them. I know some may be thinking….only 3 gifts. We have never heard a complaint though…not from our kids.
Santa- Ok, here it is! We don’t do Santa. I have had several thoughts over the years on why I am opposed to doing Santa for our kids. From the whole “how do you tell your kids to believe in Santa, then tell them to believe in God…oh but later tell them Santa is not real..but God is..oh and the Easter bunny”..ugh. To the fact that we as parents have worked hard to provide these gifts for our children, we have pinched pennies, took time to shop, and wrapped them neatly for them. I would rather our kiddos value that we gave them a gift and not some guy in a red suit….but that’s just me ( Please note that I do not pass judgement on others who do Santa for their kiddos..I am not a “Santa-hater” I think this is a personal choice for each family to make…like whether to decorate in red and green, or silver and blue…whatever is your thing)
We make cookie dough to freeze as gifts…this is something that many people have come to expect from our family and they look forward to it come December. I love finding new yummy kinds of cookies to try and naming them after the kiddos who love them most. We have Levi Mac’s Cowboy Cookies, and Jaiden Leigh’s White Chocolate butterscotch Cookies just to name a couple.
We play games and watch Christmas movies all day on Christmas Day. I do hope that our children look back on this day and have fond memories of snuggling under the blankets and watching a marathon of “The Santa Clause” movies.
One of our favorite traditions is a new one to our family. Early on Christmas morning..I mean real early, like 6:30 early, we have a Julotta service at our church. The entire morning is just breathtaking. From the walk over to the church in the crisp morning air, to the candlelight filling the sanctuary as we sing Silent Night….Just stunning. I love that our focus is sparked so early in the morning to point us to the cross. The whole reason for Christmas at all.
I pray the Christ will be your gift this Christmas Season…and your savior for all the days to come.