I was in the living room folding clothes the first day we were back from Thanksgiving when I heard it; the first sign of the magic of Christmas in the girls’ voices.
Rory: Ryder! Did you know that Santa is coming soon? We don’t have a chimney but mom will leave the door open for him!
Ryder (much gasping and expression in her voice): NO! Is it SO SOON?! Did you know, Whoa-wy, that Santa is going to park them reindeers right on the balcony outside?!
And on and on it went, one imaginative story after another. It must have went on for 30 minutes.
The best part? I have barely talked to them about Santa other than confirming he will be coming and singing the typical Christmas songs. They are just making all these fun things up on their own.
What’s even more magical? Hearing them talk, on their own, about the birth of our Savior. They love to play with the nativity set and they love to talk about the angel and the star and “that baby Jesus who was so sweet all wrapped up in waddling clothes”. I mean, does it get any more precious than that?
Rory said a prayer the other night before bed and it went something like this: “Dear Lord, thank you for this day and everything you gave us. Thank you for Christmas and for sending Jesus to live in our hearts. He is a precious gift. We love you and Amen.”
Tears. I couldn’t even open my eyes, I was so humbled.
Because I’m going to be honest, I’ve had a few weeks of being a butt in my heart and mind about Christmas. I have missed my house in Savannah. My beautiful yellow house that I’ve dreamed about my whole life and just, literally, fell into our laps at an amazing price. It was so easy. It was so gorgeous. It had everything I had ever wanted.
And here I am in our “800 square feet of fun” with no room for my giant tree that fit like a dream in our old house.
WHAT. A. FREAKING. BRAT.
Sometimes I’m just appalled at myself. What is wrong with me?! I mean, seriously.
When I finally got over my ungrateful, wretched behavior, I got out our “half tree” (yes, it is only HALF a tree- completely flat on one half) up and decorated.
And I fell madly in love with the simplicity of it.
It is decorated with the ornaments we get every time we go on a trip and all our “first” ornaments- first Christmas engaged, first Christmas married, babies first Christmases. These ornaments that show of our lives together as a family, before and after children.
Instead of decorating the entire apartment from head to toe, the girls and I put a few simple decorations. For a change, I put out decorations they could actually touch and play with. I mean. WHAT A SHOCKER. Can you even fathom your children living in your home and getting to touch the beautiful things that make Christmas so magical?!
They were giddy over it. I was giddy over it. It took me an hour to put everything up and it’ll take the same to take down. Isn’t that a relief?!
When I saw and felt how delighted I was in the simplicity of my tree and decorations I started to crave simplicity in the entire season.
We have had a big, complex year. Though this move was something we have dreamed of as far as location and promotions for Andy goes, it has also been the hardest as a family. Seeing your child miss their friends and cry over being farther from grandparents is harder than I could’ve ever imagined. It has just been an emotional experience for us.
So, I took a long, hard look at the things that always stress me out and make me forget what Christmas is really about. The things Andy and I argue about. The things that we need to financially cut out and put towards more important things.
There was one thing that I kept going back to that met all of the above stresses: Christmas Cards.
This one was a hard pill to swallow. It took me a long while to become rational. I mean, what would Christmas be without getting a card from us this year?!
In the end, I knew it had to be the first thing to let go.
Because I’m a crazy person, I stress HARD over that perfect Christmas card. I stress over the fact that they need to be PERFECT. It would be horrible if I had a typo or *GASP* if someone else in my circle picked the same card. And don’t even get me started on my perfect handwriting for the envelopes- I am an insane person when it comes to this part of the cards. Also, I have NO CONTROL when it comes to sending the cards. I can’t cut people off the list. It is just too hard for me. Last year I spent SIXTY EIGHT DOLLARS on Christmas cards BEFORE postage. HECK TO THE NO NO NO NO NO NO. I simply just COULD.NOT. do that this year. Could not.
So the first thing I cut this year was the beloved/stress-me-the-heck-out Christmas card.
Instead, we are going to be spending the money I always spend on Christmas cards to give a child presents she wouldn’t get without someone “adopting” her this Christmas. I feel my girls need to experience that much more than they need to be on a card that people throw away at the end of the season.
We have also decided that we will be sending Christmas day here at home, just us four. We have travel plans the week before and after Christmas, but for three days it’ll be just us at home. Andy has off and we want to enjoy time together and let the kids actually enjoy their presents. We will not get out of our Christmas pajamas all day on Christmas. It will be amazing.
I can’t wait to see how the girls’ imaginations continue to grow and all the ways we can help to make this season wonderfully significant for them, because Christ’s birth is just that- wonderfully significant.
I’m so looking forward to a simple, magical Christmas.
*Feel free to save the above picture and print it out as our Christmas card. That was as much as I could do, and I even put a 5 minute timer on myself so I wouldn’t stress over it.
What are YOU doing to simplify the holiday season this year? I would love to know!