Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Christmas Guidance for Moms

Christmas:

I know I have posted some of this before years ago in different essays but I wanted to set it out again. (I sometimes I just wish I could tell my younger self these things.)  

Christmas is what we decide it will be and that means there is a need to guard our hearts and homes a little-relatives, the media, the neighbors, friends, stores, your church, etc, will all come into play as an influence so it is right and good to set out in our heads what we want Christmas to look like for our family.

---If we want to keep it simple and religious, then deciding ahead of time how we will go about "guarding our hearts and homes" is a necessity.  What we allow into our home, is what will influence those little ones in our home-from the gabs of toy magazines, and commercials vs. the Advent calendar and Nativity.  We will be the thoughtful filter, the idea-shaper for how we want our Christmas season to look for our families.

---Start small, very very small.  We all know a one year old will play with the box.  (And I have had eight year olds have just as much fun with a box too?:)  The more gifts equals the more shopping and wrapping and planning and DOING (and the more stuff in your house to clutter it!).  And when children start remembering what last year was like there is a certain expectation (not ill-willed-we all have expectations) to look forward to.  Things get more costly, and life gets busier as one adds children to the family.

It is much easier just to start as you mean to go along. There are SO many great ideas of how to keep things simple and the expectations in check, and all of them are neat traditions like the three gifts to represent the gifts of the Magi, or something to read, wear and play with, etc.  I've learned most of these cute little tidbits of genius through friends, but wish I would have learned them 22 years ago when I first started out.

---Find a way to make it relatively peaceful and fun.  It SHOULD be fun!  As I added babies in with toddlers and older children, my idea of fun had to become very simple I learned, because chaos day after day is NOT fun and the daily needs of children and the household still existed and must be met first. That means weeding out what made things chaotic, and narrowing it to a few traditions that really counted. We don't have to bake and craft and go to parties every day, maybe just once the entire month. If there is anything that we all have to struggle with today, it's too many choices, and opportunities and then there is Pinterest.  

---And expectations!  It isn't a requirement to make gifts for the entire neighborhood, and teacher's gifts can be very very simple and then after all guess what?  I have the best news!  There is NO Christmas elf that will come and arrest us and throw us in jail if we don't do teacher gifts or neighbor gifts or postman gifts or Elf on the Shelf, or if we skip taking your kids to visit mall Santa, etc etc etc.  We won't go to Christmas jail (but a day in solitary confinement might sound ok on December 26th? Will they serve hot cocoa and let us bring a book?:)

So we must learn to let it go if we can't do it, or don't want to do it, or can't afford to do it, or just had a colicky baby (hello Andrew!) or are due on Christmas Eve with your fifth baby (hello Patrick!). 

All of this extra stuff, like most of life, has gone hog wild in the last decade to the point where it's all almost laughable.  Such high expectations, such busyness, it's no wonder we feel overwhelmed. It should not be one bit about stress, but about peace and that comes in simplicity and discretion and thoughtfulness.  That is where the Christmas magic is found in the first place.

And last, the most important thing:

One day a mother's Christmas will change. And it hurts our hearts I assure you. It will make us shed tears of reminiscence and nostalgia and sadness for what will never be again.  PLEASE, if you have little ones, just enjoy it.  Soak it all up.  Don't run yourself ragged and miss the "sparkly eyes" because you are too busy and tired.  Don't waste time striving for perfection or stressing about incidentals. If you have believers in your home, treasure it.  If you have shouts of joy on Christmas morning as a child unwraps a present that cost $7.99, revel in it. One day things will change-and not change for the terribly worse, but it will change.  Surprise and joy and wonder are at their height in the young childhood years and one day you will wish them desperately back if just for a moment. 

Set the path before you, walk slowly and carefully, and keep your head clear and focused and have a simple vision.  

Some past thoughts on Christmas here and here.

17 comments :

  1. Absolutely 100 percent YES!! Keep it small, keep it simple, keep it focused on the right things and enjoy! Don't overcommit, don't stress over things in a few years won't matter (your kid will not remember which parents were at the class party...but you will remember if you stressed yourself volunteering and dragged a cranky toddler with you and it won't be a good memory). Don't let anyone pressure you into having a different holiday experience...and when your kids are old enough to care what other kids got, 2 things that will help - there will always be someone with something better, newer, more exciting, more expensive, and there will always be others with less so comparison is not meaningful and 2) experiences will give your kids something they can share - invest in a small trip if you can or a special experience and when classmates and friends talk about the latest gadget they received, your kids can talk about how fun a night at a hotel in the next town over was because they got to swim in the pool and have pizza in the room during the holiday break (midweek rates can be cheap!)...or a day visit to the closest city to see lights and ride the subway...an experience as a family gives them fantastic memories and doesn't have to cost a fortune or be a huge thing.

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  2. Oh how I love these words. You have so much wisdom - soaking it up as I navigate the season with four littles at home.

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  3. I couldn't agree more. I find it so sad when people tell me they "hate Christmas" The expectation to buy a gift for everyone is just ridiculous. I have told people when asked what I want for Christmas - nothing please - let's not and say we did. The gift of releasing that burden is so worth it. My boys are ages 9, 7, 4, 2 and 1 - they all still believe and I'm just soaking it all up for as long as it lasts.

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  4. I've been thinking about this a lot over the past month. Last year we were forced to take it easy; my husband had back surgery early November and I was 6 months pregnant looking after a 4 and 2 year old. I genuinely didn't have time for the extra extras. And it was lovely.
    And now I see the advent calendars with daily gifts again and I just want to scream. No need for any of that!
    Thank you for your wise words.

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  5. You always have the words, and are always on the same wavelength as me. I outdid Christmas when I had my first two children, but as the years went by, and then a job loss, and a kid in college now, I've learned that it's the little, and simple things that matter most when it comes to the holidays. My youngest is seven and we are all teaching him that Christmas is not about the gifts, but of the Savior. And everything we have, and are is because of Him. We'd rather serve, and give to others because of all the blessings we receive, but at the end of the day...we want to enjoy Christmas, and not get caught up in all the hustle and bustle of it. Even when it comes to giving. Simple gestures is key, and expressing our love to our fellow man is what it's all about! Thanks for sharing your view on this!

    Merry Christmas!

    xo

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  6. Thank you Sarah. I value your wisdom and often set course by your years of experience. I have long dreaded December but this year I am bound and determined to enjoy all the little people's excitement and strive to make one more stop to enjoy the trains or a later bedtime because of hot chocolate while reading the bible stories of Christ's birth. Thank you for helping me plan to succeed in this busy stolen season. Merry Christmas to you!

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  7. Love this list! Also a question for you. Do you know where the image above was found? It made me cry as I had a miscarriage (it was a little girl) and the picture reminds me of her looking over my little boy. I would really love to have a print of it - maybe if you knew the artist name? Thank you!!!!

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    1. Hi Heather-I found that image on Pinterest-
      http://vintageshabbypink.tumblr.com/post/69279396068
      It is just someone's Tumblr account unfortunately. I can't read the artist's name although it is signed. I'm sorry, I wish I had more info for you. I love it also, for that very same reason.

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    2. The picture is signed by Inge Schott. I found a German website with similar postcards. Let me know if you need more help :-) http://www.ak-ansichtskarten.de/ak/90-Ansichtskarten-Motive-Thematik/23276-Schott-Inge

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    3. Thank you Vera! I tried every combo of letters trying to make out the signature-glad you could figure it out!

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  8. You are my favorite. I love your wisdom. You give me the reassurance that I need to feel confident in how I am raising my little family. Thank you!

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  9. Wow. Perfect. Just perfect.
    Wishing you and your family the best, most wonderful Christmas holiday!

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  10. Love! So much guidance. Thank you! Shared on my facebook page.

    https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1257554937650442&id=277518238987455

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  11. I love, love, love your posts. They are so thoughtful and resonate so loudly with me personally. My children are older, and I must say I miss the days of magic and "sparkly eyes" and just the simplicity that went along with Christmas. Thank you and don't stop writing. We need you now more than ever! (No pressure though!).

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  12. Overheard my favorite usher at church this weekend as he was wheeling a disabled parishioner out to her bus stop,….

    "IF YOU DON'T KNOW CHRIST, WHY CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS."

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