Full disclosure here, I dont know how to have an unadulterated Merry Christmas. I think the last time I had a totally Merry Christmas I was 5. After that, Christmas got complicated . Expectations began to exceed the reality. For many years to come, whether that disappointment came in the form of not getting what I wanted, or familial stresses or with the pressure to create that Christmas when I was 5 for my kids, Christmas took on the quality of an event to be endured, survived, even to a point, dreaded. Well with now 40 or so Christmases, that I remember under my belt, I believe I have some Christmas wisdom to share. Some of it is practical. Some of it is a philosophy of keeping it simple that if you buy into, while no guarantees, I do feel you can eek out a few more moments of Peace and Joy. Because that is what it is all about. Peace and Joy.
- Do your Christmas shopping early, I am not talking about being one of those insane people who do all their shopping in July. Do it in November. Dedicate a few days to it and wrap it up right away. You are done. So now when Thanksgiving is over you can enjoy the parties (dont host them, be a guest), baking opportunities and Christmas related books and videos with the kids.
- Do not ask family members for lists of presents, especially the kids. They will be happy with whatever they get. I always try to get them one thing that they ask Santa for (write letters or emails), but not the full list. Why put the pressure on yourself to hunt down things that may be difficult to locate. They wont remember what they requested, unless they are in the habit of submitting a list…
- As your children graduate to the land of the non believers, have them be your accomplices. This corroborating will minimize the chance that they will blow it for the little ones
- Do not get in the habit of buying presents for all extended family members. Its lots of fun when they are little kids, but buying for your nieces and nephews will become a burden someday. Do not ship gifts. Music and book gift certificates are always easy and appreciated. Make donations to your favorite charity in the name of friends and family you want to acknowledge. Better yet, agree not to exchange gifts. You can do this with your good friends.
- Christmas cards can be electronic, and given our location, the only way to assure our season greetings are received in the season. It allows for more photos and can be executed in an evening. HOWEVER, do not send silly gimmicky Ecards that are viral in the worst sense of the word. You will regret it.
- Make someone else (in my case, my husband) put the lights on the tree, and no matter how bad of a job he might do, it is worth you not doing it
- Read lots of Christmas books and watch Christmas videos with the kids, it will get everyone in the mood together
- Create traditional cookies and meals for Christmas Eve, the routine is comforting, memory making and makes planning easy, but keep it simple
- Do not expect your partner to be into the holiday as much as you. If you keep your expectations low, your disappointment level will be minimal.
- Do not take the entire family if containing small children, dressed up, tired, to a standing room only church service. Its very stressful and I think your God will forgive you until everyone is a bit older
- Keep the food and schedule simple on Christmas, the kids wont want to eat, they will want to play, let them
Get a good night’s sleep Christmas Eve. Christmas morning will come early, and this day, that everyone has been waiting for, will be long. Joy and Peace.