In years past we tried to please everyone. We would do Christmas eve at my aunt's house, our own Christmas morning, then go to my parents for a Christmas morning, then his parents as well, and then still have everyone over for Christmas dinner. It was way too much. I love seeing everyone but I want to actually have time to enjoy the holiday. It's hard to keep the focus on the meaning of the holiday when you are busy running around the whole day. Now we limit our running around. In fact, on Christmas eve/day the only place we will be going is church. We have also opened up our home on Christmas day for a potluck dinner. This year it will be with both sets of grandparents as well as my sister and her husband. For those that can't make it or choose to stay at home we will make arrangements to visit with them another day. Since having kids, choosing to stay at home as been the best decision. Running around makes for cranky kids and I would much rather have a nice slow day with my immediate family.
We have also been working towards focusing on meaningful traditions instead of on material things. Things can vanish in an instant but traditions can always be recreated. Some of the things we do every year are:
- We find a tree and put it up the weekend after Thanksgiving. While we have some ornaments that we use every year most of them are simple handmade ones from the current year. I want the focus to be on the fun of creating ornaments and not keeping ones from year to year.
- Baking cookies is always fun and we usually only make one or two kinds (gingerbread and chocolate chip.) We don't make a ton, just enough for a treat, and give the rest away to our neighbors.
- Some kind of advent activity. This year we are doing this one and this one. (I didn't get that fancy though, we are just gluing the verses each day into a book so by Christmas we have the whole story.)
- On Christmas eve we go to an early church service and then come home and work on a gingerbread house. I think this year we are going to try making one out of graham crackers instead of buying a boxed kit.
- Keep the presents simple. We do three gifts and a stocking for each child. We don't have a theme for the three gifts we just get them things we think they will really enjoy. The stocking is usually full of more useful or necessary items. For example this year my four year-old daughter is getting: pink sparkly cowboy boots, a child-sized ergo type baby carrier for her dolls, a doctor kit that we pieced together ourselves from real medical items we found on Amazon, and her stocking has socks, undies, a pink watch, and some food treats.
- This year we are also going to make it a point to donate to a local shelter. I think my daughter is old enough now to help others and understand what that means.
We really want to keep the focus on Jesus, family, and giving as opposed to making it all about consumerism and presents. I'm really happy with how our traditions have evolved and love that keeping things simple has actually made for a fuller, more enjoyable, holiday.
What are your plans this holiday season? What are your favorite traditions?
P.S. This post may be linked up with some of my favorite blog hops.