Keeping It Simple

So my Christmas motto has been in daily use around here:  keep it simple; keep it special.

And you would think after so many years of chanting it to myself for the entire 25 days preceding Christmas, that I would have it down by now.  And yet, if you hear me muttering to myself, you can probably figure out what I’m saying.

The other day, Princess Nebraska was lamenting about how Christmas is hard.  And man, do I totally hear her.  I think, especially those first years of parenthood before new traditions iron themselves out, Christmas can feeling like aimless, meaningless wondering.

While the Christmas season is still stressful and busy around here, I think we’ve found our groove for those things that make our holiday simple and special.  (I feel like I’ve shared some of this here before, but I’ll be damned if I can find it.  So here goes nothing.)

1.  We give our girls three gifts.  I got the idea from two different friends.  One chose three gifts because of the gifts baby Jesus received (gold, frankincense, and myrrh), and the other does three gifts:  a want, a need, and something to grow the mind.  We don’t follow either of these models, really, but I love having a set guideline when shopping for the girls.  And since I’m only giving them three gifts, each one is carefully selected and seems special.

2.  Santa brings one big gift and also fills the stockings.  In our stockings, we always get an orange.  We get practical things like underwear or socks and tooth brushes and fun (kids’) tooth paste, as well as fun things like a movie or new earrings.  And I LOVE picking out stuff for my own stocking; David has offered to do it before, but it’s so fun to find stuff FOR MYSELF.

3.  We have a list of “traditions” that the kids love.  This year, we’ll be staying home (THANK YOU JEBUS), so we’ll go out for breakfast Christmas Eve morning, and we’ll go for a walk after church to admire the luminaries.  We’ll have a fire on Christmas Eve and let the kids open a couple of gifts before bed.  We’ll leave milk and cookies and carrots for Santa and the reindeer and a note, and Santa will write a note back.  It’s the little things like that that make Christmas seem special instead of stressful.

4.  David is taking a day off  of work next week, and we’re outsourcing childcare for Marin, and we’re going to have a “date” to finish our shopping, just the two of us.  I plan on wandering around sipping a mocha, and we’ll have lunch together someplace without a kids’ menu, and (hopefully) after that we’ll be DONE shopping.

5.  My side drew names this year, and we’re doing “handmade or 2nd hand” again.  The kids really get into this, making or thrifting a gift, or going through their old toys looking for something special for their cousins.  There’s a certain integrity to this kind of gifting that I can’t quite put my finger on, but I love it.

Anyway, I really like focusing on keeping things low-key and easy, but it’s still something I have to work at each year.  I’d love to hear your simple and special holiday traditions.  So I can copy you.  OBVS.

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3 thoughts on “Keeping It Simple

  1. Oh, this sounds lovely. We are going to have to figure out how to do Christmas with Piglet without going overboard. But we have a year for that! This year we aren’t really doing Christmas gifts at all (no budget), so it’s not really an issue.

  2. Sadly, there is little copying that you can do, as we do mostly the same as you. Three gifts: one is always a book, one a toy that requires imagination (e.g. LEGO, Wedgits) and a third one with no set theme. Santa does the same as your house, one present & the stocking. We drive around in our pajamas and look at lights one night, we make a fancy ham dinner for Christmas Eve & turkey on Christmas Day. We sprinkle glittery oatmeal on the snow/lawn for the reindeer. We make a gingerbread house and we always go to the city garden that gets decked out with lights one evening.

    I may suggest to Leo that I should shop for my own stocking – that sounds fabulous!

  3. I love the 3 presents idea. This year we are getting the kids a “family gift” of a Wii. Then they are getting some smaller items, plus their stockings (which is usually the Santa gift). Partly this stems from the kids having so much already and partly because they all have birthdays within 1 month of Christmas. It can get overwhelming.
    We used to host a Christmas eve dinner for our families but that’s gotten too difficult over the last few years. The kids spend all Christmas day in their Christmas jammies (the ONLY gift they get to open on Christmas Eve) and we watch a movie or this year will play Wii.
    Christmas is my favorite season and I want so much to ENJOY it instead of being stressed BY IT.

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