The ‘getting-back-to-basics’ of family, friends, and the REAL meaning of Christmas is what I’m aiming for this year. No Insta-worthy moments – which never happen in our family, by the way! – unless it’s posting that ONE pic out of thousands for Grandma where everyone is finally looking in the same direction with what could pass for a smile.
No wearing myself out trying to meet some impossible standard of The Perfect Christmas, sliding into credit card debt and with my hair turning even more grey from the stress of it all…
Christmas this year will be seriously pared down. Here’s the plan:
- A mix of home-made and old decorations on the Christmas tree. No need to rush out and buy new ones that will then languish in a dusty box for another year. Rustic is in, baby. Extra points for decorating to the tunes of ‘Ol Blue Eyes Frank Sinatra himself.
- Cookies where the kids help, and there’s maybe even a tiny bit of dough left over (after all the taste-testing, of course!) to bake with. TIP: home-made shortbread or gingerbread men make great teacher gifts, but no judgement from me if you’re too busy or just plain forgot. Simplicity and survival is key here!
- Not spending thousands of dollars on flights and car hire in our annual trip to visit family – we’re taking our car instead. Sure, it’ll turn the 2.5-hour flight into a journey of two days, but it’s also a great opportunity to visit some friends and family along the way, see a bit more of the country, and make lots of memories. Note to self: must investigate some in-car wifi as well, as teen boys are bound to tire of ‘eye spy’ quickly.
- Spending less on gifts. My extended family has arranged for ‘Kris Kringle’ for the adults, so that we each receive one decent gift. For my kids (three high school-aged sons and one daughter in upper Primary), I’m getting them all books and clothes, plus a couple of items they’ve specifically asked for. Spreading out the purchases (starting in Oct/Nov) and looking for deals online has been kinder on the wallet.
- Focussing more on the true meaning of Christmas. I love the words of the traditional Christmas carols that draw our attention back to what this season is all about: Jesus, God’s gift to us. I’m considering ways to bring this more into focus for our family, including getting everyone to read a chapter of Luke’s gospel each night during December (there are 24), taking us through Jesus’ life from birth to resurrection. This may be a challenge for our laid-back tribe, but we’ll see how we go. Our church also hosts the main Christmas Carols in our city, providing an opportunity to serve the community and invite workmates and friends to participate in an event focussed on the first Christmas and Jesus (although Santa always still makes an appearance).
- Giving to others. As for several previous years, we’ve again packed some shoe boxes of gifts for children in developing countries, to be distributed by the Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child project. My younger kids and I (the older two are a bit too ‘cool’!) have a great time selecting and packing the gifts. Our church has also partnered with the Act for Kids organisation to provide gifts for local children (many of them homeless or with insecure home situations). I love the opportunity to teach my own children that it’s not all about them, and that there are many other children who aren’t as blessed as they are.
- Staying true to our values. Christmas is all about spending time with family, sharing some simple gifts, and celebrating God’s gift to us over delicious food.