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Keeping Christmas Simple

November 27, 2023


christmas-tea-cup-pink-willow

Last year I let a “Grinchy” spirit steal the joy of Christmas from my heart. I was so very stressed during the holiday season and could not wait for Christmas to be over. This year with a little extra planning and more positive thinking, I am not dreading the season and am actually looking forward to this time of year.


Today, I want to encourage any other dear ones who may cringe at the word “holiday” and share some comforting thoughts and helpful ideas.


In this blog post, you will NOT find


-what you should be doing this Christmas season

-lists of things to do to stay organized

-how to pack your schedule full and stay sane


In this blog post, you WILL find


-encouragement to hone your goals for the season

-freedom to embrace what is truly important to you and your family

-gentle reminders to take joy in this precious time and treasure the ones you love


Let’s start with what my personal goals are for this season. They really are quite simple. My two main goals for the Christmas season are

1.       Celebrate the birth of Jesus

2.       Spend time with those I love


When I keep these goals in mind, I can sift through any activity, demand, or expectation that comes my way. I can ask myself, “Does this opportunity meet my goals for Christmas?” If not, I can let the opportunity go.


Now that I have my Christmas goals in mind, I’d like to share a simple mental framework that I am working from to meet my goals.


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Keep Gift-Giving Simple


For this year, I plan to put about 5 little gifts in each of my kids’ stockings and then give them about 3 presents. I promise that my children are not deprived. Between grandparents and adopted grandparents, my children receive gifts from about 6 additional individuals and/or families. By keeping my gifting simple, this allows others to give to my children without overwhelming our house with too any things.


Meaningful gift giving is very important to me, and I often struggle to know what to get others. The older I get, the more practical I have become. There is no shame in practical gift giving. For example, in talking with my father-in-law, I realized that he and Nana would like a Gorilla cart. After a quick conversation with my hubby, I told Dad that we would order one for him and Nana. They were pleased, and one gift was checked off my list. Score.


Relax My Expectations


Sometimes ascending to an aerial view helps us to put life into perspective. And keeping an aerial perspective during the Christmas season can help to relieve stress and anxiety. Rember your goals for this Christmas season, and stick to your goals (your goals may certainly be different than mine!) If an activity or event doesn’t contribute to a goal, perhaps the best option is to politely decline or let go of an expectation.


Many of the things that I let stress me are not big at all, yet I work circles to accomplish certain tasks or meet certain expectations. Much of what I worry about I treat as “life and death” issues, yet if I stop and remind myself, the things that worry me are usually not that important. If I don’t decorate every nook and cranny of my house, the world will not come to an end. Promise. If we don’t attend 5 Christmas concerts this season, I think we will live to see the next day. Pretty sure.



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Keep Food Simple


Don’t worry about trying all the wowsy recipes. Maybe try a few new recipes, but then stick to the tried and true. I love how Andrea from Pine and Prospect Home put her recipes in plastic slipcovers for her Thanksgiving feast. This helped her stay organized and keep the recipes handy and clean.



Focus on Relationships and Time Together, Not Stuff


As much as kids look forward to new gifts and toys, what kids really want and need is mom and dad. The newness of toys wears off, but the love of parents is enduring. Our children need us to be present in their lives, interacting, loving, and playing with them. All this to say, try not to stress about the perfect gift. Get what you can, and enjoy your kids!


Plan Ahead


One would think that I would be highly organized after going to a fast-paced, demanding school for my entire upbringing, but organization has never been my strength. Every time I sit down and plan, invariably my plans never work, so I often give up.


But I am learning a balance that it’s good to plan, and even if the plans don’t happen, at least I tried. I am learning to keep things simple in my life and write down a few things that I hope to accomplish in the week. Sometimes I get everything done, and sometimes not.


Soon I hope to sit down and write out what our family would like to do over the Christmas holidays. But this list will not be one to “live or die” by. If we get to do the activities, great. If not, it’s nothing to worry about.


red-ornament-old-books

Don’t Worry About What Other People Are Doing


If an activity or event is not valuable to you, don’t worry about others who may be doing that activity or event. For example, if taking family pictures is not important to you at this season, don’t let a beautiful, gold-rimmed, pristine family Christmas card from your college friend churn your stomach with worry or envy. Enjoy the card, and move on in your thinking.


Remember the Focus of the Season


Each family has their own traditions and what they value. For example our family does not celebrate Santa Claus because we want to teach our children to focus entirely on Jesus and His birth. My kids chuckle gleefully as they sing made-up silly songs about “that chubby boy (aka Santa Claus)”. On one particular drive home from Wal-Mart, my youngest sang “Oh, that chubby boy” the entire way home. I appreciate the fact that my children know that Santa isn’t real, but I finally said, “Let’s start singing about Jesus.” I couldn’t help laughing out loud.


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Friend, I hope you found this post light-hearted and encouraging. May I comfort you that this season is not about the madness but it’s about peace. It’s not about stuff but rather the simplicity found in Christ. It’s not about rushing around but rather learning to be still and treasure what we have.


May you have a beautiful start to this Christmas season!


Love,

Ashley


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