Author’s Note: The use of the term Christmas throughout this post is for simplicity’s sake. I recognize and acknowledge that, aside from both secular and religious Christmas, many other observances and holidays (religious, secular, or cultural) are celebrated during this time of the year.
To be perfectly honest, I’m not really into this holiday.
I love the idea of gift-giving and Christmas magic. There is something wonderful about going out as a family and picking out the perfect tree. Or, as we did one year, pick out the imperfect tree that takes up half the living room, which is not an exaggeration. It’s about choosing blue lights for your tree so your color-blind husband can enjoy the dècor. Sipping hot cocoa and caroling while ringing the Salvation Army bell outside of Fareway is one of the best Christmas memories.
Each year, I look forward to the family night where we snuggle up and watch A Christmas Story and eat popcorn. It’s a time to jump in the van and drive around to look at the lights. My favorite homes are simply lined with a single colorful strand of red and white lights. Sure, some houses are super amazing and strung up to sync with music. However, that is where the Christmas magic begins to dull for me.
Losing the Christmas Magic
Christmas has become the ultimate holiday for keeping up with the Joneses. It is a competition. Bigger, brighter, more expensive! It’s overwhelming and a bit maddening to try to create a perfectly wonderful, magical Christmas. We see the magic fade when one driver is yelling at another over a parking space. We see the magic fade when a customer is full on yelling at an employee when that person is just trying to do their job so they have the money to make the magic for their own family.
I have been the guilty party and I don’t like to admit that. Year after year, I had been so caught up in this mindset that eventually the holiday just broke me. I know there are other mamas out there that feel this way or are beginning to feel this way. Mamas, it is okay to not be into this holiday because you will still be a good mom. It’s time to start doing things your own way while politely listening to the naysayers and then choosing to do what’s right by your own family.
It’s time to own the Christmas magic and not let the outside world tell you how it ought to be.
Once I started feeling the magic begin to fade, we started to change the way we approached the holiday. It’s never to late to change just because something seems like it’s “tradition.” For myself, I wanted to create holiday tradition that focused on happiness, giving, light, love, kindness, and quality. Here are a few ways that we changed how Christmas was going to work so I could have a little bit of the magic back.
Saying No to the Ho Ho Ho
The first thing we did to simplify Christmas was to do away with Santa Claus. Shocking, I know! Being Santa sucks. Did Santa bring this year’s “hottest” toys? How many presents are under the tree for each child? Is there an even amount regardless of cost or is the gifting strategy based on cost and not number of wrapped presents? If you have school-age children the worst question is; why did Santa bring so-and-so the present I wanted when he didn’t bring one for me?
No, that’s not going to work for me.
For the most part, Santa Claus isn’t even necessary. It’s even a relief that your children know the gifts came from you for no good reason. There is no need to spend 6 to 8 weeks trying to convince your child to behave so they can receive a gift. You can just continue parenting like you do every other time of the year; no strings attached. We don’t have to put out milk and cookies or jump out of the door backwards into the snow to create footprints that start in the middle of the yard. Christmas is no longer a big production. Every year there is an assortment of “just because” gifts wrapped under tree that come from their dad and me. Some are lovingly (jokingly?) wrapped as “Santa presents” since he’s deeply ingrained in Christmas culture.
Quality Family Time
As a mama who has spent the better part of a decade in the retail industry, the time I get to spend with my family is precious and sacred. We can’t spend the entire month of December attending one holiday activity after another. Believe me, I tried.
It was exhausting, and after awhile, we weren’t having fun. It’s okay to just pick one or two things to attend. Then, you’ll be making some memories that stick. You can make a tradition of something and attend year after year or try a new event to attend each year. If it is a little overwhelming trying to figure it out places to go and things to do, check out CRMB’s pervious post on local holiday activities.
Sometimes, the idea of actually going somewhere is met with dread on my part. An easy fix for that is to do something at home. Who wouldn’t love a day to commit to a holiday movie marathon, complete with popcorn and theater candy? Game day is a favorite in our house. The best part is that if we devote a good part of the day to gaming, then everybody will get to play the game of the choice. Add in some hot cocoa with marshmallows on top and you’ll have a good settled-in sort of day. Lately, I’ve decided to host a baking day. Family can extend to good friends!
Instead of spending a day alone baking up the goodies to deliver to friends later, we get together and bake all day long. Then, we fill our boxes with all the goodies from the day. Last year was the first year I did baking day and it was one of the best days of the season, hands down.
Giving gifts purposefully has always been a challenge for me. Last year, many of my friends were liking and sharing an idea I thought would be perfect. It was simple, guided, and it challenges you to think beyond the “hot buys” and the status symbols. If you were one of those moms that pinned, shared, or liked this gifting idea, but didn’t take the plunge last year, then you need to jump on this bandwagon; it’ll save your sanity and your pocketbook.
Something to wear, something to read, something you want, something you need.
Cute, right?! And simple, too!!! I can gift with a purpose, without going overboard, and not have my family room become the Island of Misfit Toys. There were two versions of this idea that I saw last year; the cute little poem above and the other added one more line, something to give. It is the season of giving after all so this house was adding that on. An additional bonus is that the wants don’t even need to be toys. Give experiences instead!
Last year, I found some printables for the kids to make some lists for this. Unfortunately, if we had to make a substitution or reinterpretation of the gift, then it was sometimes met with noticeable disappointment. That’s not the type of behavior that is acceptable when receiving a gift. I’ve never really done lists anyway, so we are just going to skip that part this year. I feel like I have been attentive enough to come up with something for each category. I don’t know who came up with this idea but I wish I could thank them in person.
Mamas, just remember, you make the magic.
Christmas doesn’t have to be Pinterest perfect or a competition. Throw out all of the pomp and circumstance of making the holiday perfect and enjoy the season with your family.