At this time of year there are visions of sugar plums dancing through my head. And I start to get a bit antsy. And headache-y.
I long for a stressless Christmas - of a time of warmth and joy and giving and love. But the whole living in excess thing rears its ugly head around this time too, and I have to consciously think through my purchases. I want it to be a special time together as a family, but not a time that's focused on accumulating more stuff.
I've mentioned here my grandpa and his excitement over a plate filled with nuts, candy, and one orange. I long for this simplicity - this simple joy. But I get caught up in the trappings.
A friend of mine tries to have all of her holiday shopping done by the start of Advent. I think this is a great goal, but now that 1st day of Advent is only 6 days away. Is your holiday blood pressure rising just reading that? I love the idea of having the month of December for enjoying, soaking up all of the Christmas goodness - making food, but not rushing around the mall for gifts people don't need.
Another friend lets her boys - now 5, 8, and 10 - decide between a family experience or gifts. For the past several years, they've all agreed on a family experience, and no gifts. I love this idea too. They've gone to a special hotel that has an indoor waterpark.
Last year we went with our kids to see a production of Peter Pan and gave them a trunk filled with thrift store treasures to dress up and play Peter Pan at home. That trunk still gets pulled out, and the girls reminisce about the play.
I've really tried in past years to simplify for the holidays - expectations as well as gifts. I've tried to be done by the beginning of Advent, but I manage to sneak in more shopping during December because I don't think I've bought "enough". Because here's the thing: I do love to give. Whether it's bought stuff or handmade stuff, it is fun to give. But how much is too much, and how much is enough?
Here's my shopping plan for this Christmas. And I'll try to stick to it.
Derek and I are still deciding on a family experience for this year. Hopefully we'll know by December 24th. Besides that experience, this is the plan for our immediate family:
December: we plan to pack in lots of little things that have become traditions, like the outdoor Christmas pageant complete with real camel and donkey, our church's Christmas program, seeing the lights in Waterloo Park, putting out cookies for Santa and oats with glitter for the flying reindeer, reading little messages from our Advent calendar each day, and watching some holiday movies together.
December 24th: Open new pjs that are wrapped under tree. This has become somewhat of a tradition. New pjs for Christmas Eve.
December 25th: Open Christmas stocking, filled with some small gifts and goodies.
My shopping for our extended families will involve packing little hampers of comfort and joy. One year we had my siblings and parents over for meals - each couple for one meal. We let each couple choose Italian or Asian. The girls had prepared a dance routine for them as after-meal entertainment which was very entertaining. It was nice to visit with each family
SIBLINGS AND PARENTS: DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER PLEASE, OR RISK RUINING THE SURPRISE (which may turn out to be a surprise anyway if the elves don't get everything I dream of here finished in time for Christmas.)
Included in these happy hampers will be:
* homemade peppermint lip balm
* lavender wheat heating bags (I like the instructions here, but I'm not sewing a gecko shape - I'll just make big rectangles.)
* family photos that we had taken by my friend at Open Shutters Photography
* Fun Dip
* probably some good dark chocolate, possibly with sea salt or hot chili pepper
* homemade Bailey's Irish Cream
* and maybe some shortbread or jam-jam cookies if I'm so inspired
We'll plan a dance that the girls can perform, along with some songs on instruments or voices. And a homemade card for each.
I'd love to hear about your plans, if they can be shared. How do you enter this season?