Christmas Preparations

Posted by Debra Carmona on 24 December 2011 | 3 Comments

How Can We Keep the Christmas Spirit During Such a Busy Time?

So many activites fill up our time during the holiday season. There are decorations to pull out of the attic, lights to string up, Christmas decor to arrange around the house and a tree to decorate. The Christmas card lists needs updating before we can start addressing the cards. Then there is shopping, baking, wrapping of presents, cards and packages to mail, parties to attend and stockings to stuff. And all this is added on top of our regular duties of laundry, dishes, keeping up with all the activites going on with each of the children, managing the houshold finances, and for most working outside the home, as well as church activites. But how much of these activites get us into the Christmas spirit? Is it really about all those activities? Or is all of the "to do's" putting undo pressure on you?

 

Christmas Table Decor
Stuffed Christmas Stockings
 Christmas Decor
Stuffed Stockings

Children easily get excited about Christmas approaching because most expect that they are going to get new presents at no cost or effort to them. Surprises are always fun to get, who doesn't like them. They love all the twinkling light displays in the stores and on peoples homes and if we get even a little bit of snow it seems to add a touch of magic to the air but we do not control the weather. The sounds of Christmas songs over the radio or CDs can inspire just about anyone young or old. But for us adults we can easily start to feel overwhelmed with all the things we feel we must get done especially if we are struggling financially, or if our job is particularly demanding, or stressful. While Mom is busy trying to pull together a festive occasion the children are happily playing their games and enjoying their friends. If we are not careful we Mom's may start to feel overwhelmed and alone trying to get it all done then our attitiude will begin to affect our spirit which will show through and the family will see it and be affected by it. It is far too easy to be like Martha encumbered about with so many things to do but wouldn't you rather be like Mary enjoying the sweet fellowship at Jesus' feet?  The woman is like the Holy Spirit in the home. What takes place in her inner realm ultimately shapes the level of happiness, peace, and contenment or lack therof in the rest of the family.

"Women control not the economy of the marketplace but the economy of eros: the life force in our society and our lives. What happens in the inner realm of women finally shapes what happens on our social surfaces, determining the level of happiness, energy, creativity, morality, and solidarity in the nation. These values are primary in any society. When they deteriorate, all the king's horses and all the king's men cannot put them together again. "   ~  Gerorge Gilder, from "Men and Marriage"

Take time for yourself to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas and what your objective is for the family this season. What do you want your family to learn this season? Do you have something specific you want for them to gain this year? What do you want them to remember about this holiday? Spend some quiet time with the Lord and let Him speak to you as you begin your plans. You certainly do not want them to remember how stressed out you were, always complaining about having so much to do. Human nature has a tendency to remember the negatives more than the positives so we need to make a concerted effort in making the positives overpower the negatives.

Winter Snow
Christmas Lights
 Snow  Lights

Then there are all those family traditions that we feel compelled to keep up year after year. The holidays can be such busy times that is become more difficult to have the right focus ourselves. All the activites can fill up our days so quick we might miss those things that are really important such as the relationships with our spouse, children, and other family members if you are fortunate enough to have any live near you. All the work and toil we put into the festivities of the season amounts to nothing if we are not building and maintaining our relationships along the way. Yes, there are some things that must get done, but is all of it really necessary? I find it useful to make lists, and prioritize those lists doing first the things that are most important or time sensitive. What does not get done was not so important after all. Some family traditions should never be broken such as reading the Christmas Story from the Bible Luke chapter 2. When the children were young we used to have all the children involved in decorating the Christmas cookies but as they grew older we sort of put that one aside. We do need to learn to be flexible and adapt to changes as the children grow in maturity. Keep the priority traditions and let the others go. It will not spoil anyones Christmas if you do things differently this year. This year is a new year, a new Christmas. Make this one special in it's own way. I am all for traditions but not if it means adding undue stress putting a damper on everyone's enjoyment of the season in so doing missing the true spirit of the season.

 

Christmas Portrait
Father Reading Christmas Story
My Children Father reading the Christmas Story

We have had big Christmases with lots of presents to Christmases with few or with no gifts at all under the tree. It is good for the children to learn to deal with disappoinments on accasion because they will ineveitably be faced with a variety of disappointments in life. We chose to be honest with our children about our finances. We do not ever use credit to buy Christmas gifts. If we had the extra money to buy a gift or two or none at all we explained it to them.  That alone has it's benefits because the children do not come to Christmas expecting much or making demands on what they want. But there is one tradition we have not waivered on and that is our Christmas breakfast and Christmas dinner. Even if there were no presents under the tree the children knew that at least they will have a big Christmas Breakfast and some candy in their stockings and their favorite meal at dinner with a specially prepared Christmas Ham, and my special recipes of mashed potatoes with ham gravy, and homemade dinner rolls. (Recipes coming soon) We rarely have left overs with those recipes. On Christmas morning we get up early to fix the big breakfast where everyone helps. Someone will cook the eggs, another the sausage, another the bacon, I will do the cinnamon rolls, and someone will be in charge of setting the table, and someone else will mix up the juice. It becomes a time of family togetherness sharing as we bring it all together. They are usualy eager to help especially if their are a few gifts under the tree because the sooner we eat the sooner they get to open the gifts. On the times where we had little or no gifts we would spend time reflecting on all the good things we enjoy and are blessed with from day to day. That teaches them to be thankful. In America we do have it pretty good. I am afraid too many American children are being overly spoiled with expectations and learn to be ungrateful for the simple things of life.

 

Christmas  Morning
Family Christmas Breakfast
Preparing Cinnamon Rolls for Christmas breakfast.
Family Gatherings

It has become an American tradition to put up a Christmas Tree and buy presents for each other but is that really necessary to have a great holiday? I say no. One of the sweetest Christmases my children recall was one of those times when we didn't have much money to do anything so with what little we did have we bought materials to make each other a gift. We drew names and each had to make one homemade gift for one other. The time that is took to create these homemade gifts added to the spirit of the season. Also during that season we had reached out to a struggling family with a host of domestic issues. We shared our Christmas Dinner with them which made that family's Christmas extra special. One of the secrets to obtaining joy is reaching out to help others less fortunate than yourself. It makes you appreciate what you do have and just feels great to help someone else. One of my favorite childhood Christmases was a time when my father was worried about finances so he recruited the whole family to go into the woods in late October to harvest and cut Christmas trees. I remember us singing Christmas songs as we drug the trees through these snow covered paths to the truck. My father hauled the trees to sell them so that we could have gifts under the tree that year. I do not remember what the gifts were but I do remember how the season felt. Christmas came early and lasted longer that year. My father looks back at that Christmas as a hard time but I for one enjoyed it. It is not about how much you spend, or how many gifts are under the tree, but it's about how you felt that makes a memory to keep. One year we were fortunate to have an abundance of money and was able to give the children each $500 to spend and we booked a five star hotel for the family to enjoy some luxury living for a couple of days. The photo below was that shopping trip. It was fun but not as endearing as the poorer times. They didn't care much for luxury dinning either. There is something special about home cooking and the simple pleasures of life.

 

Cat Under Tree
Family Shopping
Wrapped presents under the tree
Shopping as a Family

It is ok to use short cuts to save time and energy such as using paper plates so you have less dishes to wash. Is anyone really going to remember if they ate off fine china or decorative paper plates anyhow? All the Christmas decor adds some atmosphere to a home and the feel of it. The family enjoys it but if getting all those light up on the house becomes a burden omit the lights or have a party with your children's friends to help string up the lights. Make sure to have lots of yummies for them to eat to thank them for helping you. My children have lots of fun with their friends putting up all our lights because it means ladders and walking on the roof. If you do not have the time or energy, recruit some help, make the job fun, or just do without.

Christmas Setting
Christmas Village
 Breakfast Setting
Christmas Village

 

 

Holiday  Atmosphere
Christmas Tree
Atmosphere
Christmas Tree

 

Smart Way to Pack the Christmas Tree

A little organization can make most jobs easier and take the hassle out of things and can even be a time saver. Here is how I pack my Christmas Tree to make the task of setting it up go much smoother next year.

 

What it looks like on the other side of unpacking and setting up the tree

 

 

 



Comments

  • So many activites fill up our time during the holiday season.

    Posted by Grace Port, 30/07/2012 6:12am (5 years ago)

  • Is it really about all those activities? Or is all of the "to do's" putting undo pressure on you?

    Posted by Beth Casino, 30/07/2012 6:02am (5 years ago)

  • "I am all for traditions but not if it means adding undue stress putting a damper on everyone's enjoyment of the season in so doing missing the true spirit of the season." Well stated

    Posted by Uko, 11/06/2012 3:39am (5 years ago)

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