There seems to be this deep sigh, almost a resignation among my friends and neighbors that, Yes. It's here. The Holidays are upon us.
|You can't hide!|
It gets earlier every year from the retail perspective. Back to School gets crowded out by Halloween. And then Halloween lasts f o r e v e r. It's all you can do to throw the costume on one more time for the actual main event, trick or treating. Our minds are elsewhere anyway, because when you go for "one more" Halloween candy run on October 29th you discover that Halloween is over and Christmas is here. Nevermind Thanksgiving.
It's enough to make the shoulders droop on parents everywhere. And it was the topic on everyone's lips at church, at school, and at after school activities on Sunday and Monday. "Uuuuuggh. I guess we have to get ready for Christmas now . . . "
I feel this way, too. Believe me. But I'm trying to fight back and reclaim Thanksgiving and Christmas. This requires a plan.
Step 1 - Decide where you are going to spend the holidays. Will you travel? How long can you stand to share one bathroom with your in-laws? Is it important to your spouse that you attend a Christmas Eve service at his grandmother's church? Negotiate between yourselves, then inform your family. Stand firm.
Step 2 - Decide how much you are going to spend. This is by far the most uncomfortable part of the conversation for me, but it has to be done. It will make life much, much easier in January. Also decide who is going to buy what. If you've got the children covered, then tell your spouse, "Under no circumstances, I don't care how cool the toy is, you are NOT to buy them anything. I've already spent $X on them and if you buy them something that cost will have to come out of your mother's gift." Maybe that will work.
Step 3 - Decide on the spirit, the feeling you want to permeate your home, during the holidays. Do you want it to be bright, bold, festive and loud? Great. Decide to host at least one party. Get your playlist ready. Decorate to your heart's content. Would you rather it be quiet, cozy, welcoming and reverent? Super. Host one family for dinner. Bake bread and deliver it. Light candles and the fire.
Step 4 - This one is the most important: Do you want Thanksgiving to be about thanking God and do you want Christmas to be about Christ's birth? Most of us say, Of course. But it takes a conscious effort to bring those ideas to the forefront. Thanksgiving quickly becomes all about turkey and football, and Christmas is "Did we buy enough for everyone?" It's not that you meant to forget about thanking God or that you feel satisfied saying, "Oh yeah, and baby Jesus, too." It's just that popular culture is so overwhelming, and without a plan we get swept along. Think about how you can emphasize what is actually important to you, and make a plan of action. Now. Pick a verse about thanking God to memorize as a family this month. Learn about the pilgrims and their faith. Decide on one charitable project to do as a family. Read an advent devotional book together.
Some great resources for how to slow down and some meaningful traditions:
Simple Mom's Six Steps to a Relaxed Christmas
Oh Amanda's Thanksgiving Leaves Tradition
I Can Teach My Child Advent Boxes
Katrina Kenison Reclaiming Peace (love her)
Step 5 - Organize your family calendar. If you want a quiet and cozy Christmas, get ready to say no to a lot of invitations and activities. Calendar all that needs to be done: ordering Christmas cards, a weekend to address them, shopping deadlines, travel dates, work parties, class parties, etc. Calendar your traditions: the turkey trot run, Christmas Eve service and parties, the big football game, parades, going to see the lights, the weekend you will buy your tree, etc. Keep in mind that this may be a busy time for you and/or your spouse at work. How is that going to factor in? When you write it all down you'll see there is plenty going on, and you won't feel bad saying, "I'm sorry, we can't make it this year," to the third cookie decorating party of the week. Really. It's okay.
My goal is to go through these steps this weekend. A plan of action helps. The shoulders are feeling a little less droopy already.
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