It feels weird writing this after Christmas has passed, but now that all the festivities are over, I need to take a moment to collect my thoughts.
Christmas used to look the same for me every single year. My family are creatures of habit that don’t like or invite change. We had a few traditions we stuck to, but overall it was pretty basic and uneventful… not necessarily in a bad way, I just have never loved or enjoyed Christmas the way other people do. I always thought that when I grew up and had a family of my own that it would be different – that somehow Christmas would be so special. I married a guy who really likes Christmas, which you’d think would make the holiday season easier… but honestly I felt extremely uninspired this year, was hella stressed out, had a breakdown on Christmas day, and already took down all the decorations.
I’m truly relieved that Christmas is finally over and that makes me really sad which leads me to what this whole post is about – how I want to change the way my family does Christmas moving forward.
Jesus is the Reason for the Season
As a Christian, I participate in Christmas because it is the celebration of Jesus’ birth – when God gave us the greatest gift of all. With that being said, moving forward I want that to be at the core of why we do all of the things we do during this season.
Santa Free Zone
We don’t do Santa. Yep, I said it. I’ve never “played” Santa. I’ve never talked to Hazel about Santa. We have no Santa decor or books in our home. We also do not do Elf on the Shelf (side note: my mom has homemade elves that her grandmother sewed that have been in her family since she was a little girl. She inherited them and sets them up in funny places around the living room – wayyyy before elf on the shelf was a thing – and I hope to inherit them one day and do the same, but purely as a happy childhood memory). We don’t do Santa for many reasons, but this pretty much sums them all up: Christmas is about Jesus. Jesus was the greatest gift – He was born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, and died as a sacrifice for all of us sinners. God sent us Jesus, so that we could have a relationship with Him. God provides us grace and forgiveness, so essentially we can receive the gift of Jesus whether we are naughty or nice.
Three Gift Rule
This is one that I have never done before, but am extremely excited to implement. I heard about a lady that only gives her kids three gifts on Christmas – her reasoning: Jesus’ received three gifts, so why would you get any more than him? I love love love this and think it’s brilliant and can’t believe I’d never heard of it before. Starting this next Christmas, we are going to do three gifts + stockings. Since Christmas is all about Jesus, this is a great way to weave his birth story into your festivities and keep the real meaning of Christmas on your mind and in your heart.
It’s Not Just a Tree
Last year, Hazel’s first Christmas and our first Christmas in our house, we started the tradition of going as a family to a tree farm and picking out a real tree. I’d never had a real tree growing up, so this tradition is really special to me. As our kids get older, I cannot wait to head up to the farm and let them work together on picking the right tree for us and then watch as Jeremiah cuts it down for us.
Decorating the Christmas tree has always felt like a chore to me. Growing up, I never put my ornaments in the right spot on the tree, so as I got older, I just stopped enjoying the act altogether and avoided it whenever possible. Well now I have a family who wants a decorated tree and I just dread it – this year our tree only had lights – but the more I have been thinking about Christmas and how it is about Jesus – I realized that the Christmas tree symbolizes Jesus’ death – the ultimate sacrifice. So moving forward, I won’t just be decorating a silly tree because everyone else is, I’ll be decorating a symbol of God’s love for me, so that I can look at it with awe and thanks and be reminded of what this little baby ultimately was born to do for me.
The Brighter The Better
Christmas lights are probably the best thing about Christmas for me. I love seeing the lights when I drive around at night. I feel like there are less and less lights every year which is disappointing, but only fuels me to try to make our house really bright. I wasn’t in the spirit this year, so we only did the lights around the edge of our house and some twinkly lights around our door. Next year, I hope to add some twinkly lights around our porch posts and outlining the windows. Eventually, I’m thinking we will needs lights down our front walkway as well as across our fence. Similar to our tree situation, the more I thought about what Christmas lights and how they could be connected to Jesus, I realized that in the Christmas story, the wise men follow a bright star to find the baby, that Jesus was the light of the world, and that Jesus calls us to be light in the darkness. Lights aren’t just lights after all.
Simple Christmas Day
Navigating family during Christmas can be tricky. We have a good family, but they can be overwhelming. One of the hardest parts of getting married for me is having to compromise – especially at holidays. I’m getting better and better at including my husband and meshing his traditions with mine, but I’m also an A+ people pleaser, so sometimes things get rocky when the extended family gets involved. Moving forward, I am going to be really straight yet firm about my family’s plans and festivities… we will do Christmas Eve with the whole family per tradition, but Christmas Day will look a bit different.
Ever since we got married, Jeremiah has been so kind to concede his Christmas Eve traditions for mine. But in doing that, I have tried to incorporate as much of his traditions into Christmas Day as I can, but that hasn’t always sat well with my family. Jeremiah’s always done a simple, lazy if you will, Christmas. They just kind of hang out together – watch movies, bake some cookies, play in the snow, whatever. So he really wants something reminiscent of that for us. At first it was hard to picture, because I come from a go, go, go family, but the more I thought about it – and after this latest Christmas – it sounds quite nice. So I’ve decided that starting this next Christmas, I will be creating a Christmas Day schedule. This will include breakfast (cinnamon streusel muffins – my tradition), opening presents at our own pace, late lunch (homemade pizza – Jeremiah’s tradition), nap + play games + do whatever, baking cookies, dinner (homemade pizza/sugar!!!) + watch It’s a Wonderful Life. These will be the activities – family is more than welcome to come for what they want to participate in, but I will not be bullied or guilt tripped into feeling bad for how our Christmas Day looks.
Obviously, there will be other stuff, but I plan to keep it simple. We can go look at lights, see a nativity, attend Christmas Eve service, build gingerbread houses…. the lists goes on, but it’s going to more like, let’s do what we can and if we can’t get to it or don’t feel up to it, then we skip it. I want Christmas to be more Jesus and less pressure.
My hope is that the more we focus on Jesus and remember what we are actually celebrating, that magic of Christmas will become a lot more obvious. I’m actually looking forward to trying again next year.