As I sit here on a beautiful Saturday morning 1 week before Christmas I want to encourage you. No, I want to CHALLENGE you to put the Christmas Crazies to rest. STOP for 5 minutes, just 5 minutes. Take a deep breath and say this prayer with me. Lord, show me how to celebrate your birthday with my family and friends. Amen. Now grab a piece of paper and a pencil if necessary to write down what really has to happen in the next week. Having been married for 30 years and having grown kids I’ve been through this a few more times than some of you. Looking back this week the times I am remembering are the simple times. So let me make some suggestions for you to think about as you make your holiday choices.
1. This season is about celebrating the birth of Christ so talk about that with your family. I had a book that had simple family friendly ideas for the whole month of December. It even suggested when to do your holiday baking etc so you didn’t forget things. Maybe you could use a book to help you. If it’s too late for this year shop at your local Christian bookstore after Christmas for next year!
2. I remember turning down the regular lights to better enjoy the Christmas lights and drinking hot chocolate after the kids were in bed to calm down and do a little Christmas time reflection.
3. Making Christmas cookies with the kids involved was a must. Yep, it’s a mess, but then I’m a mess in the kitchen no matter what so who cares? One year I even made them matching aprons. We made “gingerbread houses” out of graham crackers more than one year. As they got older we made real gingerbread houses. Frosting cut out cookies is always way more fun when you do it together.
4. Gifts – DO NOT LET THIS STRESS YOU OUT OR CAUSE YOU TO GO INTO DEBT. For our family we kept it pretty simple but fun. We always gave the kids a book to encourage reading and an item of clothing that they actually needed. (It’s way more fun to get something wrapped up and unwrap it as a surprise than it is to go buy new pj’s) Then we’d get them a couple of fun presents. One of the Christmas’ we all remember the most we collected big boxes for a week or two before Christmas. Then we made them do a treasure hunt which led to the basement play room full of big boxes. It was March before those boxes were all gone. They made a maze, a train, forts and that’s not all but it’s all I can remember right now. Another trick is wrap EVERYTHING. You know, the batteries separate from the game. The pj top separate from the bottoms – everything! It draws out the unwrapping and can make for a lot of laughter. Several years we gave each of the kids two homemade gift certificates to stop at a toy store on the way to Grandma’s Christmas Eve day and pick out their own new toys. Sounds dangerous but we learned that they had far simpler taste than we did. We did tell them that we had $ limits but never were burdened with it. This was a huge help to our budget! AND the shopping was a big part of the gift. Just being allowed to look at all the possibilities in the store and then pick out what they wanted. (Note to grown ups, you can not rush this process. Be patient. That is your biggest gift to them. Let them enjoy it.)
5. Go caroling somewhere and don’t forget to watch for all the fun Christmas lights in your town as you go.
Done. See I don’t remember fancy dinners and just the “perfect” outfit for me or for our kids. Parties bigger than the neighbors or gifts for everyone at work or on the block. I remember smiles and giggles and being together with the kids. (and extended family) My husband’s family all crowd into his parent’s too small for all of us house and play card games and eat snacks after the kids open their presents. We love it! Being together celebrating the birth of Christ is what it is all about. Keep it simple.
For some great ideas for the Christmas school break time why don’t you visit my friend, Cindy’s blog http://cindybultema.blogspot.com/2011/12/surviving-thriving-on-christmas.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ReflectionsOfHisBeauty+%28She+Sparkles%29