So many of my friends are caught up in the just-before-Christmas frenzy. Shopping, wrapping, baking... busy, busy, busy. I'm prone to being overwhelmed with the here and now of living all too often during the rest of the year. I knew this year that if I was going to have a calm and peaceful Advent and Christmas, I was going to have to keep it simple. And real.
Here is my recipe this year for a stress-free holiday. And no, it does not involve finishing all my shopping and wrapping before December 1st.
My list of things I don't do is longer than my list of things I do
I didn't read every Tomie dePaola Christmas book and do themed crafts and baking to go along with them. We didn't make handmade Christmas gifts to give to all our relatives. We didn't bake endless batches of cookies to put on cute little paper plates and pass out to all our neighbors and friends. I didn't have Advent themed projects every day or tons of Christmas crafts. I didn't even send out Christmas cards.
We prioritized what was important and ditched the rest
We watched our favorite Christmas movies with the kids. We'll bake Santa cookies on Friday. I did most of my shopping online. We made some salt dough ornaments because I was in the mood. We've read lots of Christmas stories. I'll wrap the rest of the presents this week, a little at a time. That's about it.
I took my favorite ideas that we didn't do, and filed them away for another year
With no guilt, I might add. The Internet is amazing and I have found about a gazillion really great ideas for projects, homeschool, books, etc. And I can't do even half of them. I just don't have time. So rather than killing myself trying to squeeze in everything, I'm filing ideas away (and this is why I love pinterest) for another year.
If it stresses me out, I won't do it
My house will not be spotless when we have friends and family over for Christmas brunch. I already mentioned, I didn't do Christmas cards. I don't wrap presents all fancy. I'm lucky just to remember everyone that we planned to buy for. I have enough going on that adding additional things simply isn't worth it.
The purpose of Advent is to prepare our hearts for Jesus. In celebrating his birth, we celebrate not only the fact that He came into the world as King and Sacrifice - we celebrate that He will return for us. And whether He calls us one by one and we meet Him when it is our time, or someday comes for us all at once, this time of year should be peaceful, serene and joyful. So I refuse to do more than I need to, more than makes my family happy. Yes, we believe in Santa and we hang stockings and play all types of Christmas music and we'll open too many presents and eat too much pie. But in the days leading up to the feast of feasts, I am making a conscious effort to keep my heart in the right place. Enjoy my family, pick activities that are fun and not stressful, and leave the rest for later.