Let it Go! Let it Go! Let it Go!: A New Christmas Motto
Christmas time is one of my absolute favorite times of the year. But I’ve got to be honest with you…I am sick and tired of feeling stressed and overwhelmed in the month of December. For the last couple of Januaries, I have looked back on December with such mixed feelings. Yes, we did lots of great things together as a family. But I also question whether I was able to actually enjoy all of the sweet moments or whether I was too busy checking things off my to-do list all in the name of trying to do it all.
This year, I decided enough is enough. Things will be quite a bit simpler around here…and I’m embracing a new motto:
Let it Go! Let it Go! Let it Go!
Let it Go: The Commercialism of Christmas
Just because we might be able to provide tons of presents for each of our children, doesn’t necessarily mean we should. Most of us won’t be able to let the commercialism of Christmas go entirely (it is so fun to find the perfect gift for the people we love), but at least we can tone it down a notch.
For the last couple of years, we’ve tried to give our boys only 3 gifts (plus their stocking stuffers). This makes for a pretty simple Christmas morning and allows us some time to concentrate on celebrating the birth of our Savior. This year, I ordered a book called The Sparkle Box to try to encourage us all to think outside of ourselves.
Our extended families have both toned down the gift giving this year as well. We’re drawing names on my side of the family and we’re only exchanging gifts for the children on my husband’s side of the family.
Let it Go: The Pinterest-worthy demands we are placing on ourselves for perfect decorations, perfectly wrapped gifts, and perfect food.
Guess what? In twenty years when we look back on holidays spent with our families, will we remember the place cards or the centerpiece? Will we remember that we finally nailed the pumpkin pie recipe or how we gave the best neighbor gifts in the history of mankind? I seriously doubt it.
Some of these “little” things help establish our family’s traditions, but some of them are just to make ourselves feel like we have done Christmas right by making in shiny, beautiful, and Pinterest-worthy. Unfortunately, it’s our family members who will suffer if we, as moms, are so concerned with making everything look perfect that we are stressed and frazzled with the amazing people God has blessed us with (or maybe this is just me?).
Do yourself (and your family) a favor. Log out of Pinterest for a while (and put away the Martha Stewart magazines). Instead, make a list of 3 priority activities you want to do aside from your usual family gatherings. Here are ours:
- Continue celebrating Advent by having a short devotional each day. We will be rotating Truth in the Tinsel, our Advent Boxes, and clips of Why Do We Call it Christmas?
- Deliver small gifts to neighbors and friends.
- Make Christmas cookies and then go on the “Minivan Express” to look at Christmas lights (usually we do this on December 23).
Those are our “extra” priorities aside from getting together with both of our families and having our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day traditions. I’m not going to stress out if we don’t get to plan creative Elf on the Shelf stunts (we don’t even have an Elf on the Shelf), make gingerbread houses, do an act of kindness every day in December (though it is a noble idea) or go caroling. If we just so happen to have the time and energy for such things, then great. Otherwise, I think our priority activities will make for a memorable holiday (and continue some wonderful traditions we’ve already started in the past) while allowing everyone to be relaxed and stress-free.
Let it Go: The expectation of a drama-free holiday where everyone is cheerful and happy.
Let’s face it: There is bound to be a child who is whiny (or two!), who wants the gift their brother got instead, who refuses to show appreciation to a family member, or who is just plain cranky. We’re talking about holidays with young children, here. If your kids are anything like mine, the anticipation and lack of a regular schedule can make them extremely discombobulated and grouchy.
Honestly, there is bound to be an adult or two who might act this way as well. Families are a beautiful mess, aren’t they?!?!
Do yourself a favor: Expect chaos, expect discontentment, expect a little bit of drama…and as hard as it may be, just embrace it. This is a part of the crazy life we live in as parents of young children. And give the adults and family members around you a little grace to be less-than-perfect as well. Everyone is fighting their own battles, after all.
What about you? Do you have something you need to let go of to make this holiday season even sweeter???
I agree. My son will have more than three presents, but none were over $30 starting price before discounts (and there were discounts!). I use websites that offer bonus points to get stocking stuffers and smaller presents, discounted end of season clothing sales, and coupons and price matching for the rest. We are making graham cracker houses this year (fully edible, too) instead of the prepackaged gingerbread house and we will make “ninjabread” cookies, as well as traditional gingerbread and sugar cookies, to eat and to share with others. My goal is to have a happy Christmas with less stress and enjoy what the Good Lord Above has given us.
Very well written! I especially like the last part about the chaos. With our four special young kiddos (special needs) we made the decision that we’ll always be at home for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Grandparents and extended family take turns each weekend of December to come to our home for a simple meal, possible activity (when I have the energy), and presents. The kiddos love it because they get one on one time with their relatives they wouldn’t get at the big celebrations. I love it because they always know who their gifts are from. Since the holidays are pretty rough in our house for some of our special needs kiddos, I try to choose something I can do by myself, that I can enjoy for myself, as everything else tends to be pretty difficult, especially for one of our adopted daughters. I love going to enjoy a music performance (I’m a musician), or something that reflects my love of the holidays without kiddos. That way when everything seems to go wrong Christmas Eve and/or Christmas morning, my special celebration was that musical performance or whatever it may be and I’m okay with that! Good luck with your activities.
I love this post! Thank you for sharing Jenae! I’m glad to hear we aren’t the only family without an Elf on the Shelf. :) We bought a Little People nativity set for our young girls this year…I liked that it was something they could play with and we can use it while we talk and read about Jesus birthday throughout the Advent season. I really love all of your ideas about scaling things back to savor all the special Christmas moments!
Wholeheartedly agree! Our son is little older than yours….he’s 11. But in general we have tried to explain over the years that we have “gift-giving” as part of our Christmas celebration to commemorate and symbolize the three gifts the Wise Men brought to honor the Baby Jesus; Frankincense, Gold and Myrrh. So we ask him to think of “a couple” things he’s wishing for………..of course, when he got old enough to really contemplate this line of reasoning he asked me “Does that mean I get 3 gifts from you, 3 from Daddy, 3 from Grammy…….etc.?”, so be prepared! : ) Also be prepared that even 1 gift can “break the bank” as they get older and wish for more expensive gifts (electronics such as gaming systems, I-pods, I-pads, computers, etc.)!
I came across this post last year and pinned it for future years. THANK YOU! I re-read your post today as I have been feeling overwhelmed and stressed. I have two little boys that are crazy climbing the walls this week. They are so excited about Christmas that they are into all sorts of mischief. Thank you for this reminder that families are a beautiful mess. I will embrace the chaos. Thank you again and Merry Christmas!
Thank you so much! Merry Christmas to you, Brenda!
Wonderful post Jenae! It looks like we’re on the same page. I wish I’d been taught this in my younger mothering years. You are a wise woman and wonderful mother!