Yesterday I found myself slightly dreading the arrival of Christmas. You may also feel overwhlemed or stress. It was 2 years ago when my 3rd son was a newborn that I found myself crying at a Christmas party…normal life was hard then the added demands of the holiday season made it unbearable. But through that challenging year I made some changes.
I thought I would take a second to remind myself & share with you what helps keep this great holiday under control & focused on the “Reason for the Season”.
1. Ask your kids what matters to them
Instead of feeling like you have to go to every holiday concert, activity, crafttime, party, etc. Sit down at dinner one night and ask your kids what their favorite holiday traditions are. If they remember it from last year and enjoyed it, then it’s worth doing it again.
My kids’ favorites are: the downtown Christmas parade, the Lionel train set at our local mall, visiting Santa, making Christmas cookies, and watching Christmas movies. Another one of their favorites is…
2. Find an advent that works for your family
Advent, from the Latin adventus, meaning “coming”, is a formal way to expectantly wait and prepare for the coming celebration of the nativity, birth of Christ, at Christmas.
There are a lot of different options out there for advent. We have used a set that my sister made for her kids called “The Family Promise Tree”. The creator of it, Cherie Steuerwald, adapted it from the Jesse Tree, which has been around since the 60s. The booklet that she wrote to go with the daily ornaments, has a short poem with hand motions, story lesson and memory verse.
It starts at Genesis in the Bible and works through God’s promise to send His Son to deliver us from sin. Each day tells a story from the Bible (Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Ruth, David, Isaiah, John the Baptist) leading to the arrival of Jesus…the Promised Child. It’s a simple advent and it works for us.
Another option we are going to try this year is brand new…”Truth in the Tinsel” by Impress Your Kids.
I met Amanda at Relevant and she shared this idea with me. I love it because:
- hands-on crafted ornaments for each day
- tells the nativity story
- adapted schedules for busy moms (if you can’t craft everyday in December)
- one page supply list (most of which you probably already have).
- super cute book layout
The key is to find what works best for your family. Low stress. Fun. Then the truth of the miracle of “God with us” can be shared with your children.
3. Fewer, more meaningful gifts
Our boys have so many toys. So. many. toys. Last year I heard about giving them gifts according to this little rhyme/categories and I loved it. You give them 4 things:
- Something they want
- Something they need
- Something to wear
- Something to read
I decided that what they really need is typically clothes. So instead of the “wear” category, I inserted a “something made”. (want, need, made read). Last year I made my eldest a crocheted blanket, my middle a superhero cape, & my youngest a little handheld blankie.
This year with Pinterest I think I’m going to make a couple pillowcases for the older boys and a fort kit for my youngest…but if it becomes overwhelming I’ll forget about it.
4. Order Christmas Cards from Hallmark.com
The last three years I have ordered our cards from www.Hallmark.com. I typically order a postcard (less paper/less cost) with our family picture on the front. The best part is that Hallmark will address and mail them for me. I keep all my address in an excel spreadsheet. All I have to do is upload the spreadsheet to their website and for no additional charge (just cost of stamps) they will address & mail the cards for me.
I know it’s not as personal as handwriting the addresses but this is the season of life that I am in. Most people just want to get a cute picture and update of your family.
5. Let go of “perfect”
Once we had young kids around I had to let go of all my expectations of a “perfect” Christmas. I had to realize that in my attempts to make it all perfect, my stress & attitude were far from “perfect”. So I put up fewer decorations around the house…only those things that are important to me (nativity set) and the kids (stockings & tree). I have the boys join me even if it means Martha Stewart may frown at our results. To me a perfect Christmas is perfectly imperfect!
What does your family do to simplify and enjoy Christmas?
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