This Christmas I feel more at peace than ever with how we celebrate this beautiful season. I think I just let it all go-I stopped comparing this way or that way-we mothers all "put on" Christmas different and there are great ideas, but I'm OK with our way too...in fact, I love it. I know that I like to keep our house simple it makes December much more enjoyable. That's not to say that I don't get stressed. I do! Every year I get stressed out right around November and I have to give myself a good talking to.
I think some of what we are bombarded with is ridiculous-I read how stressful this time of year is and then I feel stressed, I read about how the real meaning of Christmas is lost and I panic about the message I am sending, I read that I should be doing this charity work, or this service project and I feel guilty for not adding one more thing to our list, I see others giving elaborate gifts to teachers and the postman, and I feel like I must keep up.
But I want to enjoy this time. I want to remember the days of past when Christmas wasn't all about going, going, going, buying, buying, buying, but really about enjoying family time. I think that one day my kids will be gone, out of the house, and Jeff and I will be staring at each other wishing we had wrapping paper hitting us in our faces from all the hoopla going about around us at six in the morning on Christmas Day. I want to soak up and enjoy what I have now-every minute of it.
So here are some specific topics I've been asked about:
(One year Santa and Mrs. Claus brought me baby Patrick four days before Christmas...I got exactly what I asked for and it was the best Christmas ever that year!)
Sweet Santa is awesome and we believe forever. That means that if one of my children or grandchildren -or heck anyone- comes to me at anytime for the rest of my life and asks me if there really is a Santa the answer will be yes...and I mean forever. I love the magic, the imagination, the wonder. I love the symbolism and I gosh darn love the fact that someone might be listening for jingle bells at midnight, just like I tried too once-tossing and turning and feeling like I would burst. I want the same for my children. Yes, every child has come home from school and said to me, "But so and so said his mom told him...." And I say something like, "I know Santa is real, I swear I heard jingle bells once and so did Grammy, and once when Dad was little..." And we change the subject and concentrate on what we believe in our house.
The Gifts. I have no particular system for gift giving when it comes to the children. I know that there are some cool ideas out there to keep things simple but I feel ok with the way we do it here. It is a blend of both of our traditions growing up. The kids send a letter to Santa with three ideas, and then he might take those into consideration (I absolutely encourage kids not to waste their three suggestions on things I know Santa won't bring us because he knows our rules) and he also brings lots of little surprises.
On Things You Don't Want To Do-
I am sometimes my own worst enemy, but I try to keep things simple: I try one or two new recipes, maybe one new craft or decorating idea, we do a very simple act of charity (we pick a child from the Angel Tree and of course there are always collections at school), and maybe one fun family activity. I give very simple teacher gifts (Bath and Body Works lotion or soap) and I sometimes make cookies or caramel corn for a few special friends or neighbors.
I try to keep in my mind the way I want the spirit of my home to feel at Christmas-time. That is what our memories of Christmas are really about, aren't they? Then make the changes so that can happen. I don't remember my mom stressed, worried, frantic, running around like a chicken with her head cut off, snappy and impatient. So I made changes-what did I think is important? What did I like to do? I try to make plans to get some of the harder stuff (gifts, cards) done way before the season begins so I can get rid of all that obligation and do my best to be more relaxed.
Doing It All- How can you find that balance when everything OUT THERE is unbalanced? Don't go out there too much. Really. I try really hard to keep my home a little haven away from all that crazy hoopla. My kids are almost never in stores. I shop online and go out without the kids if I have to go out at all. I toss the magazines that come like crazy at this time of year before anyone sees them (except a few for the kids to page through that have more cool stuff and less junk.) The simpler I keep it all, the more I know I bring the real meaning in, and have less chance of missing the moments I want to remember forever.
This does NOT mean that I am never frazzled, sometimes annoyed, or spend days feel overwhelmed! I do for sure!