Friday, December 5, 2008

Simple Living: Part Eight

Simplifying Christmas is a hard one for me. It seems as soon as this time of year rolls around, I want to do it all. As if I didn't already have a SuperMom complex, it kicks into high gear when December rolls around. It's the one time of year that I really let go and want to treat my family and friends beyond the usual.

However, as the mom of two small children, I'm constantly confronted with my inability to do it all. So as I sit here tonight, I'm still paring down my list and trying to get to what really matters. These are just a few of the thoughts that are running through my head:

*Baking: I come from a long line of fantastic cooks. Recipes that have been passed down from my grandmother that symbolize home and warm, comfort and family. Last year when I was pregnant with Baby Girl, I had to really think about what cookies I wanted to symbolize the holidays for my kids. And I pared it down to two: Jam Shortbread Cookies and Molasses Crinkles. They have a warmth and richness that I love and instantly take me back to those holidays growing up. I still have many other favorites that I've continued to bake in our kitchen. But who says I can't start a new tradition? My grandma used to make chocolate covered cherry cookies for christmas. Now in my family we make them for Valentine's Day. Maybe one day they'll make their way back to December, but for now, we've started a new tradition.

*Christmas Cards: When Big Boy was little I made homemade Christmas cards. This year, I just threw my hands in the air and said forget it. I looked around in January for a pattern that I liked and planned on making a few a month. But when Nov rolled around and I realized I didn't even have a pattern, it just didn't seem worth it. That's when I started looking for a coupon code for picture cards. I paid a little more, but with one less thing to think about, the lack of stress definately payed for itself.

*Homemade gifts: This is my best tip and yet, the one that I'm still perfecting. I do a lot of homemade gifts. It started out as a way to save money and now it's grown into a labor of love. I love watching for ideas as the months go by and thinking of how I can bless other people. Making homemade gifts has forced me to be extra creative. I watch all year, making notations in a notebook of ideas that others may like. As I get a coupon for Jo-Ann's or Micheal's, I pick up supplies and work on it throughout the year. This year I've made some altered puzzles and calendars and am already thinking of some great ideas for next year. My only problem is that I sometimes bite off more than I can chew. Then I'm up late, and... well, it's worth it in the end to give them something that really represents how much I care for that person.

*Decorations: We decorate pretty minimally. Especially for a house with a 1 year old and a 3 year old, excessive decorations are not part of the deal. Why put a bunch of stuff out that's just inviting to be touched, only to tell my kids that they can't play with it? Maybe as they get old, I'll add too, but for now, it's just not worth it.

*Friends: I have some great friends, but I just can't afford to get them each something. I send Christmas cards and attend cookie parties. For me, it's more about making time to spend with them, rather than buying each of them something. If I happen to come across something that one or the other may enjoy, I might pick it up, but I never leave myself feeling obligated to buy for each of my friends. And I try to never make them feel obligated to buy for me. As far as even spending time together, I know that this time of year is so busy. This year I'm thinking of planning a Girls' Night for January or February to catch up with those friends that have hectic schedules in Dec. I just remember that they're trying to do the best they can like the rest of us.

*Outside obligations: There was a time when my husband and I accepted any and every invitation to get out of the house. Then we had kids. And although we're still pretty mobile for a family of four, we've begun to re-evaluate what opportunies are the most beneficial. Small group remains a non-negotiable, as well as church on Sunday morning. Our kids aren't in school so we don't have a Christmas program to attend. Our outside events generally boil down to: the lighted Christmas parade (tonight), one evening of driving around to look at lights, and maybe one social event in a home. That's about all we can take at this time of year. It's a time when I'd rather be at home "nesting" with the kids so we've decided these are the important things to us.

Although none of these things are earth shatteringly new, I hope they've caused you to pause and think about why you do what you do. How important is that 13 batch of cookies when you're little ones are begging to play a game of Uno or watch The Grinch? How important will they be next month when the rush of Christmas is over?

Just food for thought.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Lee, Loved your honesty of how this season makes "perfect mom" roar her lovely head! Enjoy your Christmas preparations! judy

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