Christmas was magical as a kid. Everything was beautiful. We went Christmas caroling, sledding, drove around to see lights, volunteered at nursing homes and homeless shelters. We visited old people from church. There were holiday concerts and special musical church services. And we baked. Like crazy baking, turn your kitchen into a candy store type of baking. I loved everything about Christmas.
And now… it’s a lot of work! My office has been taken over by Christmas central and now I’m forced to work anywhere else! I think my husband and I may need to take a vacation together in January so that we can actually see each other for something other than a “You’re picking up this one and I’m picking up that one right?” And as I look at my schedule and all of the “wonderful” holiday activities we have scheduled, I keep thinking, “Do I really need to be at this?” It leaves me feeling slightly Grinchy. Even though I still LOVE Christmas!
But this year, I’m determined to Christmas without stress! So here’s 4 things I’m focusing on to keep the holiday magical, but not overwhelming.
- Lower your expectations! One of the problems is that I remember every magical moment from my childhood Christmases in ONE lump folder labeled ‘Christmas’ inside my brain. They didn’t all happen in a single year. There were probably some pretty boring Christmases in there, but I just don’t remember them. So recognize that creating one or two magical moments within a year is probably more than sufficient. And skipping all magical moments is forgivable.
- Just Say No. We have 4 Christmas parties/events for church this year, 3 classroom parties, 2 concerts and that is in addition to the normal business that is the reality of modern families. Just because someone decided to have a party, does not mean you have to be at it, or bake for it, or feel guilty because you are doing nothing about it. It’s not just “okay” if you don’t go. Sometimes it really is best if you don’t go.
- Decorate for as long as it is fun. We pulled out the decorations on Sunday after church. Everyone was really excited… for as long as it took to decorate half of the tree. (They had already decorated their Grandma’s tree so this was the 2nd tree and they pooped out a little early.) We finished the tree, but that’s all we are doing. We probably won’t get to the lights. We’re not going to make wreaths, or set up our second Christmas tree. We did what was fun, and I’m not forcing the rest. If they get a second wind, I’ll let them go for it!
- Do some service together. When I think back to the most magical times of Christmas as a kid, they almost always involve serving someone. It just puts that Christlike love in your heart. A million cookies can’t fill that gap. But giving cookies to a lonely neighbor while singing off key Christmas hymns, instant warm fuzzy feelings!
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