I was so excited when I looked at my calendar and realized December is going to be a fairly calm month for us. We have no visitors. We have no travel plans. We have no field trips. We have no appointments. We don't have many presents to buy. We don't have to visit Santa.
The only thing we have is the children's Christmas musical at our church.
With only one extra thing on the calendar, December looks like it will be calm and have plenty of wiggle room for enjoying what this season brings. Here's what a simplified December looks like for us....
Gifts - For me this discussion must begin with a question...What is Christmas? If Christmas is the celebration of Jesus' birth, then why do we give gifts to each other? Now my family hasn't agreed to stop exchanging gifts, but we have made a shift and try to use this opportunity to teach our girls what it means to give gifts to Jesus. Last year I found a great book that helps get this message across and I talk about it more here. This has really helped cut down on mindless shopping.
Commercialism -We've been intentional from the beginning of our children's lives to focus this holiday on the birth of Jesus. Our children have very limited exposure to advertising, and I'm doing my best to keep them out of stores this month. Everything is so sparkly and shiny and attractive, isn't it? I figure they can't want something if they don't know it exists (this is true for me as well, but I'm a little better at resisting temptation).
Traditions - I think I've made it a tradition to not have traditions (smile). So often we do things just because it's tradition and we've always done it this way. I don't want that. I want to do meaningful things with my children and have space and time to try new things each year. I would much rather reminisce with my girls and say "Remember the time we handed out candy canes to children in the grocery store?" rather than say, "Girls, today we have to go hand out candy canes to children in the grocery store." Maybe I want a tradition of spontanaity.
Family - Holidays are so much fun when celebrated with family. Unfortunately we live thousands of miles away from our families and so it's just the four of us. While this does keep things simple, it can be lonely. I don't necessarily recommend intentionally placing yourself thousands of miles away from family on Christmas. Sure we can Skype, but it's just not the same.