Monday, December 05, 2005

Are you "ready" for Christmas?

I've been told that this is a Southern thing - that in other parts of the country people don't ask you this when you run into them at the Piggly Wiggly during November and December. But Christmas is THE holiday around here - the season kicks off with Thanksgiving and lasts until New Years. There are parties and dinners and cookie exchanges and Christmas plays. We decorate the house - inside and out - and the church and some people put wreaths on their cars. Add in birthdays for hubby and Levi and our anniversary and we can be a little busy around here. It can be a wonderful time of celebrating our Savior and sharing our joy with family, friends, and neighbors. Or it can be a stress-filled season of running from place to place, of "have-to's" and "should have's." It can be standing in line and fighting over the latest *must have* toy and staying up all night trying to get the Christmas cards mailed out on time.
Since I became a stay at home mom and received the salary decrease that went along with it,we've never had a lot of money to spend on Christmas. At first it really bothered me because gift giving has always been one of my very favorite parts of Christmas, but it's just a fact of life that I'm learning to deal with. This Christmas I'm determined not to be stressed out about what we can and can't afford or who gets what. I've actually decided not to be stressed out about anything this Christmas. The more I focus on the reason for this season, the more I want to have a really special holiday this year. I want to enjoy my family and be thankful for what I am able to do. Actually being 32 weeks pregnant (as of today!) I don't have the energy to do a lot of the running around that I usually do. What a blessing that's turned out to be! Any Christmas shopping I've done has been online - staying out of the stores (and they're a nightmare already) prevents me from feeling guilty about all the things I'd like to buy for family and friends. And from seeing all the things I want to put on my wishlist:) Not to mention avoiding the stress of shopping with a pre-schooler, a toddler, and a big belly.
I've crossed lots of things off my calendar and made room for more nights of driving around to look at the lights and sip hot cocoa. Going fewer places makes it so much easier to really enjoy it when we do go out. I've cut back on a few other things, too. I'm only making the recipes I really like to make and eat this year. A side effect of ongoing nausea is that I just can't cook certain foods - and I can eat pretty much whatever sounds good to me (as long as I watch the sugar). So if I feel like gorging on my mom's sausage balls, my doctor will say "protein and calcium! great!" And since we'll be sending out birth announcements with pictures in January, I'm skipping the Christmas cards and standing in line to have the big Christmas picture made for them.
So what am I doing this holiday? What made the cut? Well, I'm really looking forward to church service on Christmas morning and I had a ball buying Brenna's Christmas dress (now to find Levi a semi-matching shirt) at a Children's Wear Outlet sale. The tag says $36 and I got it for $6! And it's beautiful! Levi is wild about Christmas light so we plan on driving around at least once a week to look at them right before bedtime. We're spending some time as a family thinking of and doing for others - spreading some of our joy! I've narrowed the gift list to things I think will really be enjoyed and to things that I can buy or make. I want people to know that I put my heart into what I gave, not just my wallet. And most of all I'm not going to feel guilty about the number of gifts under our tree. I'm focusing on what matters this season. So I'd love to hear any of your truly cherished traditions - we're always looing for good stuff to replace the meaningless stuff we're getting rid of.
Barbara has wonderful ideas on her site


Meredith said...

Why did I not know you were back to blogging???????

One of our small cherished traditions is making Christmas crackers--like the British do. It lets us stretch multiple small gifts into a whole lot of fun. We just put a small gift (like a Matchbox car) in an empty toilet paper roll, wrap the roll in bright paper, and cinch the ends with ribbon. To open, pull both ends as hard as you can until one of them cracks open. My son has had more fun with opening them than playing with their contents.

Shannon said...

Meredith - That sounds very cute:) I always mean to tell you that I love your site - read it just about every day now that I'm "back!" Thanks for the great idea!

norwester said...

I don't know about other areas of the country, but here in the NW, that's about the first thing folks ask me. But maybe it's mostly in Christian circles that it still gets asked...

But this year it makes me gasp every time because I am very late..

We have never had a ton to spend either. (Especially compared to what I was used to as a child) I have 3 children who have birthdays just before and just after as well, so it's a rather expensive time of year for us. But I don't think the children notice much. To them it's all the lights and music and beauty it should be.

And Grandma fills in the gaps too. :)

Shannon said...

Aren't Grandmas great!?!