Thursday, December 10, 2009

Simplifying Christmas

It seems everyone you talk to is endeavoring to simplify Christmas this year. Some it is due to strained budgets, others time constraints...for me it's been some ongoing health challenges.

As the season approached, I knew I had to approach my preparations differently. 
Ordinarily, Christmas involved decorating every possible corner of my home, baking until the freezer was overflowing with goodies, fitting in as many festive goings ons as possible and shopping until I literally wanted to drop....then there was the wrapping of all of those shopping finds.

Because I knew I was limited in what I could accomplish this year, I asked my kids and hubby to tell me their one favorite Christmas recipe...then I did the unheard of, (well, for me it was unheard of)...I accepted help from a friend to do some of that baking. Some of the things that the girls love to help with and are capable of handling, we will do together once we are off for the break.

My children's desires for Christmas were pretty attainable and instead of hours and hours of shopping, I broke the lists down into short stints that I could manage, asked for help from my hubby and accepted help from another friend or two. 
My daughters absolutely LOVE wrapping gifts, so we fine tuned their skills and they have done almost all of the wrapping to date. The gifts look terrific and the girls are very proud that they are the ones to have made them look so good. (We love the paper that has the lines marked out on the inside but they are also learning to measure and eye out the right size piece of paper for each gift.)

The tree decorating party is always a big deal to me and knowing that in all likelihood this is the last year that my Johnny will be home for that tradition, I could not let it go. 
Mark really stepped up to the plate here. My hubby would be fine if there were no tree and certainly rather not decorate it at all...but has come to realize how important it is to me that we do it together.
We set our date for the end of November and because I had not done any of my baking yet, we bought treats. 
Mark surprised me the day before the tree was to be decorated, by taking a morning off work and setting up the tree and stringing the lights as well as putting up the outside lights.
I had no idea until he brought me home from work and it was all waiting!
It really did make the actual tree decorating so much more enjoyable...and quick too!

We were done in plenty of time to head to the mall and pick up a Blue Ray copy of the newer version of Miracle on 31st street, in order to fulfill Mark's one favorite tradition.
Every year after the tree is decorated, at hubby's promptings, we all sit down and watch this wonderful movie. Just like every other year, Mark and I were wiping moist eyes at the end of it too.

Here we are just over 2 weeks away from Christmas Day...Most of what needs to be done is done and I have learned some very valuable lessons:
Most of what I have done every for me. The rest of my family is quite happy with simplicity.
Needing help is humbling...but accepting it is very rewarding.
Shopping with friends is so much more fun.
My children are feeling a real sense of satisfaction in getting to be a bigger part of the preparations.
"Keeping it simple" does not mean we don't do the things we have traditionally done, but we do the ones that are meaningful and we do them differently.

Christmas is magical and special and amazingly wonderful not because of all that we do and accomplish...but because of the people involved and the
 ONE who accomplished so much when He humbled Himself and came to this earth in a helpless and vulnerable state...

Hmmmm...could that be the lesson I am to learn this Christmas?

Humility, vulnerability and even helplessness were used by the God of this universe to accomplish the greatest gift ever given, yet somehow I felt I needed to be strong, capable and independent in order to make Christmas special.

I don't have to make Christmas special...He already did.


Shaun and Holly said...


I sure hope you are feeling better soon!


Amy said...

Beautiful Jen!!

I remind myself of this lesson every year...Most of what I do is for me and hoping I pass something to my kids..but they'll love it no matter what is done. Whether I buy the treats or make them, or not have any at all...which reminds me each year, that if I want to do it, then I should, if I can't or don't want to, it's okay.
I hope you feel better really soon.
Please, if you need any more help, don't hesitate to call. I like to wrap, bake and decorate!!

Williams Family Blog said...

Loved this post Jen, for different reasons our family is doing a very simple and minimal Christmas. At times it is hard but I think much better in the long run and I know the kids will remember our Australian Christmas quite fondly.