For a few years now, I’ve wanted a different kind of Christmas. I’ve wanted less rush and hurry, more slow down and enjoy. I’ve craved l
This year I got it.
As I shared in this post, I wanted to slow this Christmas down. I wanted a simpler Christmas that was focused more inward toward my family and less on parties and events and shopping. The Plan boiled down to two things. Buy less, and do less.
Buy less. I originally made a list of ten gifts for each of the girls, which is somewhat less than what they normally receive. I ended up cutting it down to eight each based simply on the feeling that once those eight purchases were made, I just felt done. I just had this feeling that each girl had enough.
Do less. I asked everyone what their top three favorite Christmas activities were, and they all answered basically the same. Visiting the tree farm, watching our favorite movies, and hosting a cookie party were what they wanted so that’s what we did! We added one new activity this year with the 12-days Nativity from Happy Home Fairy which was simple and sweet, and I think everybody liked it.
The Rule Change
Along about the middle of the month, my youngest had nearly driven me nuts with requests to add “just one more thing” to her wish list. So in a moment of patience-whispered-through-clinched-teeth, I came up with a new rule, “The time for asking in over; the time for giving has begun.” It worked like a charm! I did have to remind her of the rule a few times, but simply asking “what’s the rule?” seemed to work for her. Each time she would repeat the rule to me and just kind of go about her way. Success! I also challenged each my girls to focus on simple ways to give back to their families, and I saw a lot more instances of helping and hugging and sharing than I normally see between my kids! Major score!
I really think The Rule was a stroke of genius!
So how did it all go? For the most part it was amazing.
I had a few moments of weakness when I wondered if eight gifts was enough, but I held strong and on Christmas morning, I got proof that this decision was a good one. Normally we barely get through opening presents and scarfing down a big breakfast, when the kids are begging to open their stockings. This year it took nearly two hours to open presents, and it was lunchtime before anyone even mentioned stockings! Everyone was so happy playing with their new “toys!” It was wonderful!
Also I always say I’m going to be done with shopping and wrapping by the time Christmas Break begins, and this year I almost made it. Due to shipping times, I still had a few gifts to wrap in the days before Christmas, but it was nothing like the normal back-breaking wrapping marathon I do in those last days!
I stuck to my guns on doing less this year, too, and for the most part it was good. Bad timing and rainy weather made visiting the tree farm a bit less of an adventure than it usually is which was a bummer. We didn’t get to take wagon ride around the farm or enjoy the normal views, but what we got, a HUGE tree and a beautiful sunset, was enough.
By doing less I also got to do something I’ve never done before. I had time to take each of my girls shopping individually this year, and it was great! I set aside an entire Saturday and took each of the girls to the stores of their choice. I even ended up with a fun “date night” with Sydney that totally made BOTH of our days! I definitely want to make this time next year, too.
We watched all our favorite Christmas movies throughout the month, took a quick drive around town to see lights and decorations on Christmas Eve, and invited our favorite family friends over for spaghetti and cookies for one super fun evening. It was all pretty great!
I also want to make the 12-Days Nativity a bigger part of our holiday season next year. Adding this into our activities just felt “right,” and I hope to do the same but also a little more next year. We read Alli’s little storybook about Jesus’ birth about halfway through our twelve nights this year, and next year I think we’ll at least start by reading that on the first night if not several times throughout and hopefully talk more about what it all means to us and the way we celebrate Christmas.
The new rule of less asking and more giving is definitely staying. Next year I will hopefully enact this rule a bit earlier and work with the girls a little more in depth on ways to give back.
To be honest, there was a downside. I missed some of the excitement of the season we normally enjoy because of all the everything. I missed some of the events, like taking a trip to see Zoolights or Christmas in big Valley. I kind of missed the Christmas parties, and throughout the month I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wasn’t done decorating. Next year perhaps I can strike a better balance of activities and quiet time, and I will definitely make time to decorate a little more.
All in all I’m calling this Christmas a simpler season success. I enjoyed everything we did and only missed the things we didn’t do in a “maybe next year” kind of way. We had a beautiful Christmas morning, and as I type we’re still kind of basking in a Christmasy glow.
I don’t think I couldn’t really ask for more than that!