Thursday, December 16, 2010

In Which We Purge Christmas....And Also Elf Away.

I seriously backed off of Christmas this year.  In the past I've let it way over stress me, mainly because I've tried to make Christmas the major production that my mother (who I love, please don't get me wrong) makes it.  She did such a great job of stressing, decorating, baking, polishing, tweaking, wrapping and making magic for us.  With my kids, though, I've never really wanted Christmas to be quite the way it was when I grew up, even though it was perfectly magical. I really want our Christmas to be about family and tradition and most of all about Jesus.  Over the past few years I've really frustrated myself trying to make Christmas what I want it to be, and "competing" with my mom, who will buy 3,000 presents by the time it's all said and done :)

This year, mainly because I'm totally burned out on other areas of life, I really let it go.  I let go of competing with her on the number of presents we buy, because honestly, our kids play with 3 or 4 of them and then forget about them.  I let go of freaking out about stringing 4,000,000 strands of lights in the front of our house because it's always frustrating to me that Austin doesn't "man up and hang the lights" so I did wreaths with bows and called it a day.  I think next year I'll buy pre-lit wreaths and be perfectly happy.  I let go of going to as many events and parties as we could cram in, and instead I filled our days with family projects.  I kept our advent devotions.  I kept the tree.  I kept secret shopping trips and the nativity scenes and ice skating. Also, the homemade thank you cards, but only because we really like painting things.

I let go of individually made cards and got free ones from Shutterfly for writing about them on my PWC Moms blog. And you know, somewhere in the purging, I found the joy of Christmas again.  My kids and I have enjoyed the snow, and the reading, and the making treats for other people.  We haven't stressed or run all over the place any more than we normally do, and I've actually worked to cut that down, too, so that we can savor the season.

I still think that Christmas has been great so far for us.  By not deciding that I have to do the nine million things I've made myself in the past, we've allowed ourselves to do what is special for us this year.  For example, my kids apparently love gingerbread houses.  This is the 5th one we've done.  It's got chocolate rocks on the sides.  How awesome is that!
 I've also tried not to freak out so much about the baking.  I bake with our kids all the time, but during Christmas I want things to be perfect, so I tend to micromanage or do it myself.  So this year, since I know it's really fun and special for them, I've picked things they can do.  We did chocolate dipped pretzels tonight, which ended up with around 6 different non-matching toppings on them but are still cute, and we also did gingerbread man cookies (I told you they love the gingerbread!!) I also decided that I'd chill out on the monstrous cookie platters we end up doing for our neighbors and share some of our home-canned goodies instead, so I've started getting some salsa and peach butter ready to go out.  We're caroling tomorrow (keeper!!) so we'll hand out goodies to our neighbors on Saturday.
 I think that for next year there are a few more things I'll bring back, but for this year, this minimalist Christmas has really helped me figure out what I really want to have in our family's holiday, and what I, and our kids, don't need to be happy and joyful during the holidays.
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