For a long time, Christmas lost it's shine for me. I found it so disheartening that people seemed to focus on "getting stuff", rather than focusing on family, friendship and the birth of Jesus. A few years ago, I decided to pursue a peaceful and simple holiday season. Here are some of the ways we keep our holiday season stress free:
1.) We have ceased all gift giving on my side of the family, with the exception of Miss. E. Any gifts that we give on my husband's side of the family are heartfelt or consumable. Hubby and I keep our gift giving in check for our daughter. We choose a few small items and Santa brings one gift. We don't want gifts to be the focus in our family. Things are just things. The important parts of Christmas can't be bought in a store.
2.) Our decor is minimal. We decorate our tree, set up our nativity and I usually put together a Christmas centerpiece. Hubby strings lights along our house. It can all be put up (and taken down!) in a couple of hours. I don't worry about making it look perfect, but rather try to use the decor that is meaningful to our family.
3.) I send cards. This might seem unnecessary, but I think that letter writing is a dying art. I love to receive cards and letters in the mail ,so I always make sure that I send out holiday cards. They brighten everyone's day and help us feel connected to family and friends.
4.) We use our Advent wreath. We bought our Advent wreath this year. I looked for one last year, but was unable to find one. We light the candles at supper time and pray Advent prayers, preparing our hearts for the birth of Jesus.
5.) We watch the original "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" on Christmas Eve. We started this tradition because we didn't know where we would be on Christmas Eve, be it at home or away visiting family. We thought that this would be a great tradition that we could do virtually anywhere. We really enjoy it.
6.) We attend Mass. Hubby and I are very aware that Christ is the reason for our Christmas celebrations. We always go to Christmas Mass and enjoy celebrating His birth with other members of our church. We usually sing "Joy to The World" at the end of Mass and it always makes me joyful and a little teary.
7.) I don't break the bank. I make a small list and purchase the few gifts that we need. I don't spend crazy amounts of money of gifts. I choose to give small, thoughtful gifts that fall within our family's budget.
8.) I don't bake (much). I generally don't bake any treats for my family at Christmas time. My Mom always makes our family's favourites and my Mother-In-Law makes their family favourites. Hubby and I always look forward to eating the treats our Moms prepare and we indulge for the holidays. I don't feel the need to add to the baking. I often bring a dish for Christmas dinner, if I am not making the dinner myself. I leave the baking to the experts. I do have to bake a few treats at this time of year for my workplace's Bake Sale. The proceeds go to purchasing things that our Long Term Care residents need. A very worthy cause and definitely a good reason to bake.
How does your family enjoy the holidays? What are your tricks for remaining stress free?