Taming the Calendar

This Christmas is Different

Usually this time year of year is a little hectic for me … actually, a lot hectic, and by “this time of year,” I mean October, November, and December. I have a tendency to sign up for every holiday activity, plan every outing possible, and just generally overdo everything this time of year.

But this year has been different. In October I didn’t insist on handmade costumes, and we only trick or treated one time. For Thanksgiving I only served the five of us instead of a huge crowd, and I didn’t stress out and over plan our meal. Both of those months were so much more relaxing than usual that I decided to try the same tactic with Christmas. Low key. Simple. No hurry or rush. It’s been wonderful. 

Here are some things I’m doing to keep this Christmas different.

Make a list and stick to it.

Early on I made a list of gifts for each of the girls and Josh. For the most part I have simply stuck with that. I have made some substitutions when items were unavailable, but mostly the original list stands.

I also made a list of the things we wanted to do this month. I asked everyone their three favorite traditions, and we’re sticking with just that. It seems silly to overload our schedules when most of the things my family wants to do are right here at home.

Resist the urge to overbuy.

My lists are small this year. Aubrey asked for something pretty pricey, and Sydney and Alli are getting two gifts each that cost a pretty penny so our lists are somewhat smaller this year. That’s hard for me. I’m used to have a mountain of presents under our tree, but I keep repeating to myself, “Quality not quantity.”

Some days I have to repeat it a lot.

Some of my Christmas totes are still full.

Usually I pull out all our totes of Christmas decorations and starting flinging things everywhere. I want the WHOLE HOUSE to be red and green and sparkly. This year I decorated the mantle and the tree, and I put out a few things in the kitchen and family room. And I feel pretty done. I added a reindeer and a tomato-cage Christmas tree outside, and I feel pretty done with that, too. I have more decorations (lots more) that I could play with next week while the girls are all home from school if we decide to, but mostly I think I’m happy with the bits of red and green we have out already.

I stayed home.

Usually I plan too many parties and accept too many invitations. Usually I am stressed out about potluck dishes and holiday outfits and white elephant gifts all month long. This year I planned one party (it’s coming up this weekend!), and I only attended one other. There were a few more on the schedule, but one by one those have dropped off the list. I’ve spent a lot more time working on projects in my house and watching movies and playing games with my family this year.

We’ve kept the important stuff.

We still went to our favorite tree farm to pick a much-too-large tree. We are still watching all our favorite Christmas movies (Santa Clause 3 will be watched this week). We’re still having a cookie party. We’ll still take a nighttime drive to enjoy the lights. We just cut out all the clutter and unimportant fluff this year.

It seems to make the good stuff all the better.

I’ll be honest. I am still having moments of doubt. Am I not doing enough? Are the kids disappointed in the lack of Christmas craziness? Is my “different Christmas” just an excuse to be lazy?

I even asked Josh, and he just looked at me like I’m crazy. He doesn’t second guess himself all day long over every little thing like I do. He says our month has been nice so far.

He said all that after a nice evening of dinner, tree decorating, and the start of our 12-days Nativity. I guess that says it all to me.




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