I never feel ready for the Christmas season. Wasn’t it just here? Didn’t I just do this? As you get older, each year represents a smaller sliver of your life, so perhaps my mind is sincerely shocked at how fast these past 11 months seemed to fly by.
But still, usually I’m itching to decorate, bake cookies, and start shopping. (Heck, in my younger years, I might even be done shopping by now, before I brought so many children into the world.) I savor the twinkle lights and watch all the Christmas movies and cuddle children in matching Christmas pajamas.
I just can’t seem to get up the enthusiasm this year.
It feels like there is nothing my kids need OR want. We have four children aging from just-turned three to 11, and it feels like we already have EVERY TOY EVER CREATED. And they never play with any of them. Our 11-year-old daughter has pretty much aged out of toys and spends all her home time in her room singing Broadway at the top of her lungs. Our nearly-nine and six-year-old sons plays Legos and read. That’s it. And our three-year-old daughter, despite having a plethora of options, mostly follows me or her siblings around when she’s home. She has a handful of dolls, Barbies, and dress-ups that she loves. But does she really need any more?
My parents always showered us with gifts for Christmas. Now I wonder how they came up with that many things to buy every year!
With two of our children having performances that are going to take up some major time in December (the Chattanooga Boys Choir Singing Christmas Tree and Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga’s Billy Elliot), we’ve had to swear off any Christmas parties or extraneous events this year. And I can’t fail to mention that the depression that seems to be pressing down on me for the last six months isn’t helping, either.
So what’s a mom to do when she wants to bag up all the decorations and haul them off a cliff, or just say, “Bah, humbug”?
For me, as a Christian, it means focusing on Advent and the Jesus part of the season. My aunt always said there is Jesus Christmas and Santa Christmas. For us, this year Jesus Christmas is where I want my heart to be.
We’ve planned a simple year in terms of gift-buying. My husband and I brainstormed one big gift for each of our four kids, and plan to do those as well as stockings and maybe a few room refreshings in the house. We convinced my side of the family to do a name-drawing instead of each adult buying for all the others. We’ve decided to do the same thing with our kids: let them each buy one bigger present for one sibling instead of smaller things for all their siblings.
We’re focusing more on giving to others who are actually in need. I offered each of the kids $20 to help someone as they see fit. My oldest has already decided to send $10 to one of our Compassion children, who lives in the Philippines.
And we’re celebrating family instead of stuff. We are big Euro-gamers, so we used an Advent calendar we already had and filled in each day with the name of a game. For the first 25 days in December, whoever is home will play that game. We’re also intentionally creating family movie nights and breaking out my huge collection of Christmas picture books to read together.