Last night I was looking up our Christmas budget from last year to try to make a plan for gifts before I went crazy with Christmas frenzy. And I discovered that I (smarty pants me) had written myself a little list of reminders to help me remember what went right last year and what I hoped to change for this year. Here’s some of what I told myself:
Christmas 2013 was awesome, mostly because Hazel helped us all focus on giving more. It was a Christmas miracle. I love that girl. (I really need to write about this Christmas miracle…I didn’t blog enough last Christmas)
Here are a few things that made it great:
- I tried to see myself and our life from the outside in. As if looking through the window into a magical Christmas scene where you don’t hear loud annoying noises, or feel frustration and exhaustion that’s built up inside the characters. I tried to drown out the craziness, the chaos and realize the beauty of the life I was living. Tried to live more in anticipation of the beautiful memories we were making. And it worked. It made me really a happier person during the holidays.
- On Christmas morning when the kids woke up too early (5am...which was better than 3 am like last year) instead of trying to control things to make them work out the way I had envisioned, I just let go. I laid in bed and listened to their conversations (trying to record them on my phone since they were so adorable). I remembered all the early Christmas mornings I spent with my siblings and how they bonded us together and I let it be. And it was good. We were tired, but adrenaline takes you through the day....they never crashed, really. well, maybe the next day. But at least I didn't crash it all on Christmas morning by getting mad and trying to take control.
- We stuck to our present limit: Jeff and I each bought just one present (thoughtful) for each kid. They got one big thing from Santa and a book and a few little things plus some stocking stuffers. It still felt like a LOT because of all the gifts from Grandparents, etc.
- Next year it would be so great if I could get the stocking stuff and other little stuff taken care of before thanksgiving. It's just so wild out there at Christmas time. But it wasn't too bad. I should make a checklist early and track everything in there to simplify it. I resisted the urge to go out and buy a ton of more stuff last minute. And we didn't end up with tons of stocking stuffers that didn't fit like we have in the past. A few weeks before Christmas I put stocking stuffers in a Ziploc for each kid so I could see how much I had and what I still needed.
- Our Nazareth supper (click here for more info on what this is) was silly at times, but also very spirit filled and wonderful (Jeff doesn't like this tradition too much) but I think everyone else (but Ezra) does. We sang oh come oh come Emmanuel before we got started and that really brought in the spirit. Heidi gave a really nice spiritual thought too. Chris made funny jokes as usual and between that and Peter's loud toot it was hard to stay serious, but the spirit was there none the less and I think our kids get something meaningful out of it. Caroling afterwards is a must. It makes everyone feel so happy to sing together. It helps if the dinner is totally ready before people arrive. It might also help to assign people parts, send them a reading list, help them to prepare for their part. This would be a good spiritual activity to do during December. I hope I'll make time for it.
- We did a lot of stuff. Jeff thinks it was too much. Too many people over. It was hard work, and a lot of stress, but I found myself more able to really enjoy it than I have in the past. I tried to remind myself over and over again about why I was doing what I was doing. What I was doing it all for. That helped propel my actions with love rather than duty. And love makes everything better.
I’m hoping this Christmas I can practice seeing my life from the outside in. And that my actions can be propelled by love. I think focusing on these two things can drive away the frenzy and distractions and free me up to enjoy the moment. (And I’m also hoping that I won’t beat myself up if I'm not enjoying the moment all the time, because that’s impossible).