I love Christmas time. I love the sights, the smells, the sounds, and the tastes. I love the extra church services and time with friends and family.
But I also know how easy it is to get so consumed IN the season that I can’t even enjoy the season. I work full-time outside the home, and work hard at home as well, managing our household of eight. It is very easy to become overwhelmed. And you know how the old saying goes, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”
So, a few years ago (likely the Christmas when I was expecting the twins) I made a conscious effort to simplify. I simply had to let some things (like Pinterest perfectionism) go.
I let the kids decorate (and sometimes even re-decorate) the tree. I’m sure you can tell, with the artfully placed ribbon and the three candy canes hanging on the same branch.
Christmas Eve has the potential to be a stressful day. We began the tradition fifteen years ago to serve a meal of Swedish Meatballs (from frozen meatballs) in between church services on Christmas Eve. It is not a fancy meal, but I serve it on our good China, and a side dish of peas makes it colorful. It is a winning meal for our family though. I only serve Swedish Meatballs on Christmas Eve, and our whole family enjoys them so there is no whining. The great part is that I can throw the whole meal together in about a half hour.
We spend the day leading up to church relaxing as a family. I might sneak off to my room to wrap a gift or two, the kids may play a board game (or fight, as is their tendency).
Our family attends the 5 PM Christmas Eve service at church. This *might* be the year that one or both of the girls do not fall asleep during church! Then, the hubs is off to preach at a church an hour away where he is filling a vacancy. The kids and I will set out a spread of cheese and sausage and crackers and a lot of treats that generally come from the frozen food section–shrimp cocktail, pot stickers, fried mushrooms, etc. The whole family looks forward to this (easy) Smorgasbord all year long. We have special plates that are set aside for Christmas Eve, which adds to the special feel.
The kids snack, I open a bottle of wine and we enjoy some Christmas movies. The girls have fun setting out (store bought) cookies for Santa, and he stops by sometime after we are all asleep.
Christmas Day brings church in the morning, then we come home and open gifts and eat leftover snacks from Christmas Eve. The kids play with new toys or read new books and I prepare an easy Christmas feast of ham, cheesy broccoli rice, rolls and salads. Honestly, our weekenight meals are trickier to pull together than this one!
All in all, it is a pleasant few days, filled with family, laughter and food.
Did you notice some things missing? Like baking, or reading special stories or playing special games? Oh, no worries. Christmas only BEGINS tomorrow! It is twelve days long and does not even end until January 6. That gives us plenty of time to bake cookies and go sledding and eat favorite treats. There is no rush. And I love it that way.