For some, it’s that first freeze. For others, it’s when they put their Christmas tree up. Some, sadly, never get into the spirit of Christmas. In my husband’s family, they start playing Christmas music while they’re stuffing their Thanksgiving bird. In my family, Thanksgiving is held sacred all to itself, but the next day? All bets are off! (For the record, my husband loves that idea, so we blasted 80′s music while we stuffed our bird this year…ha!)
But alongside the joy of the season, there’s a desire to make everything perfect. The perfect tree, the perfect gifts, the perfect decorations. The ultimate cookie recipes, the best hot chocolate, the most amazing wrapping paper.
All of this quest for perfection, surrounding a holiday that started in hay-filled trough and a livestock shelter.
Christmas isn’t about perfection. It’s not even about presents. It’s about a single gift; the birth of a little boy. A little boy who would later make the ultimate sacrifice in the battle for the souls of mankind.
So why are we celebrating by making it the most stressful time of year? Your children? They don’t care if it’s the “perfect” Christmas cookie. They just want you to make cookies! Your husband? He’s happier with simple decorations and a peaceful wife, than perfect decorations and a frazzled wife. You? Well you have to deal with you.
Do you know what I remember about the cookies from my childhood Christmas? Certainly not every one ever made. The one I remember first, every year, is the one with the strongest memories surrounding it. Wishing cookies. On the surface they’re a simple spice cookie, with an equally simple drizzle of frosting decorating it. They’re pretty, and they’re tasty. But they’re memorable because we were told to place it in a cupped hand, close our eyes, make a wish, push down in the center with one finger, and if it breaks into exactly 3 pieces, and we can eat those 3 pieces in silence, our wish comes true. Just a simple, silly ritual, but it’s made a lasting memory.
Do you know what I remember about Christmas decorations? I don’t remember most of my Mom’s ornaments. But again, I remember one’s with memories associated. The doves my parent’s were given when they got married. The spiky balls from the sweet gum tree that my Mom painted silver. Paper chains we made as kids.
So how can you apply this to your own Christmas celebrations? Go get a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Just kidding! I’ve got 10 simple tips for keeping your holidays sweet, simple, and stress-reduced…I’d love to say stress free, but then I don’t know what your family or in-laws are like .
1. Sit down with your family, and figure out what the most memorable (in a good way) things have been.
Every year, we watched White Christmas on Christmas Eve, and the “Sisters” song is frequently referenced in our family. We also refer to the “arm rubbing”, “it’s not good but it’s a reason”, and “how much is wow?”.
2. What have you always wanted to do, but you’ve never done yet? Make this the year it happens!
If you’ve always wanted to read Christmas stories aloud, do that! If there’s a Christmas movie you’ve never seen…watch it! This is YOUR Christmas celebration.
3. You can stick with favorites, or try all new recipes…but there is no rule saying you need 87 different Christmas cookies.
I grew up with my Mom always making a huge selection of cookies, but there’s always core favorites that get eaten first, and the rest get eaten later. Some of them, only a few people enjoy. Make what will actually be eaten, and save your time for other fun!
4. Let the kids help decorate the tree. It might not look catalog ready, but it’ll be family worthy.
Sure you might have to move a few ornaments around after they go to bed, but it’ll be making memories! And they’ll feel sooooo grown up, that they get to help with the tree. (I like my lights to be spread out evenly throughout the tree, so the rule is that Mom & Dad put on the lights, then have at it!)
5. Consider meaningful religious traditions like an Advent calendar, or the Jesse Tree.
The first year we learned about the Jesse Tree, we couldn’t figure out what on earth to use. Then we went to Aldi’s and they had these little 2 foot high baby cedars, with little red velveteen bows on them. So that’s what we used! lol Was it traditional? Gosh no. Did it work? Absolutely!!
6. If it’s overwhelming, pitch it out!
If watching Martha Stewart makes you wish it was Groundhog Day, so you could burrow in his hole, then don’t try to go over the top! Don’t feel like your holiday celebration needs to be book worthy, magazine worthy, or even photograph worthy. It just has to make you (and your family) happy.
7. Take pictures…lots of pictures!
Speaking of photographs…this is an amazing time of year to be taking pictures. The snow, the decorations, the kids playing, all of it. 20 years from now, the children might not remember what the house looked like, but they will love seeing what they looked like then. And so will their kids!
8. Keep things clean, but don’t be a clean freak during the holidays. Your family wants to see you, not sparkling windows.
‘Tis the season to be jolly, not wash the wall-y. Ha. Okay that was silly…but you get my point.
9. Go easy on the kiddos. Just like you get overwhelmed, they do to. So be understanding when they seem crankier than usual.
You know it. I know it. All the parents know it. Kids are obnoxiously cranky right around Christmas. And it’s annoying right? It’s supposed to be the hap-happiest season of all? It’s also one of the craziest seasons of all. Christmas plays, and holiday parties, and charity fundraisers, and shopping, and baking, and and and and…yikes! Throw in the runny noses that plague this time of year (for those in the northern hemisphere), and it’s little wonder that the small ones can lose it.
10. Take time to enjoy the seasonal sensations. The smell of the Christmas tree, the taste of candy canes, the Christmas lights.
That’s pretty self-explanatory. Just soak it in. Relax, and enjoy. Focus on the reason for the season. It’s about the Giver with the ultimate gift. Enjoy!
(If you liked this, then click on the picture below for a free printable with the 10 Tips on it!)