When did the Christmas season become so frantic? Whatever happened to hanging out with family and friends, drinking some hot chocolate and looking at Christmas lights? Now it seems like every day in December is filled with organized “Christmas Events.” Parades, cookies exchanges, Secret Santas, Christmas concerts, and choreographed light shows fill the days so full that there’s no time to even enjoy them. Trying to keep a household running on top of all that is near impossible and I haven’t even mentioned shopping for gifts and fighting crowds at the mall!
Before I start sounding like Scrooge, let me say that I love Christmas. I love the decorations, the cooking, the time with family, and the anticipation of the birth of our Lord. On the other hand, I don’t love the shopping, the penny pinching, the packed calendar, or the car commercials that lead us to believe that we should all be getting a Lexus for Christmas with a big red bow on top. (I mean, seriously, do people really do that?!?)
I have to confess that I’ve been sucked into the whole “picture perfect Christmas” pressure in the past. You know what I’m talking about-gourmet food made from scratch, perfectly selected gifts expertly wrapped and under the tree, house decorations that are worthy of a magazine photo shoot, and everyone happily spending time together. I blame Martha Stewart.
It wasn’t until I noticed that my family didn’t seem to care about the things I was frantically trying to give them that I started to rethink my approach to Christmas. So, one year not so long ago, I decided to be more intentional about my Christmas preparations. I asked myself questions to figure out what really mattered to me: What decorations would I really miss if they weren’t put up this year? What events mean the most to me? What Christmas cookies do I love the most?
After I had my list of answers, I asked the same questions to my husband and children. I also asked my children only to give me three ideas for Christmas gifts for them; one inexpensive, one mid-range price, and one item that was more of a splurge. Then, I stuck only to the list of answers they gave me. Really. No additions. At all.
That year I only made the cookies that were each person’s favorite. (In fact, there was some overlap so one batch of cookies often were the favorite of a couple of family members. Score!) We only put up the favorite decorations. We made it a point to carve out time to do the things that we enjoyed the most; watching Christmas movies, seeing Christmas lights together, sitting around the fire pit drinking hot cocoa, and playing board games. I also didn’t worry about a large number of gifts for each family member. I stuck with three gifts per person. (It was good enough for Jesus, right?)
You know what? It was a great Christmas season! We didn’t miss any of the things that we cut out from our celebration and we actually got to enjoy the time leading up to Christmas. In the extra time that we had leftover, we were able to get better rest and even make time for spiritual preparations for the feast of Christmas. *shocked gasp* I know, right? Who would’ve thought that we would actually find time to get ready for the holy day along with the holiday?
So, take it from a mom who’s been there. Less is definitely more at Christmas. I’ll even help you get started. First question-what’s your favorite Christmas cookie? …See? That wasn’t so hard, was it?
Copyright Laura B Nelson 2015
Art by kelseyannvere via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain