I was writing over at the Des Moines Moms Blog last Friday sharing strategies for breezing your way through the holidays. You can check it out here.
The tips are all part of my plan to have a more "present" Christmas. A more reflective, meaningful, and memorable holiday season.
Planning is not my strong suit. But, with each child we added to our family, I realized if I didn't plan ahead, I would HATE Christmas. And that's not a great emotion to have about the joyous birth of our Savior, right?
Here are the three steps we're taking to be more present this Christmas.
My husband and I sat down after Thanksgiving for an Operation Present Christmas strategy session. We wrote down every task that needed to be accomplished before December 25th and scheduled them early in the month so we wouldn't be rushing at the end.
I'm a notorious procrastinator, so we set some deadlines in place.
- Gifts purchased and wrapped by the 10th. (This did not happen, but the gifts are purchased and will hopefully be wrapped by the 15th.)
- Christmas card mailed by the 15th. (We're within striking distance of this one. Come on, Team Meggison!)
- Holiday baking completed by the 20th. (This was finished yesterday, so ten-up-top for me!)
Now, in hindsight, I think we should have held our strategy session earlier in November to get the gift buying and card mailing process kicked off sooner, but alas, the point is "present over perfect" and there's always next year!
During the strategy session, we also compiled a list of every party, event or obligation related to the holidays. We scored them based on how much they "felt like Christmas" to each of us. In other words, if we didn't do them it would it feel like Christmas hadn't happened.
This is kind of ridiculous, I realize, since Jesus' birth will be celebrated on December 25th regardless of whether we go caroling in our neighborhood, but I think you know what I mean. There are certain tasks that have sentimental value and an association with the spirit of Christmas, and those are the ones we don't want to miss.
After we made the list, we voted. We were downright harsh with some items. Feels too much like an obligation? Out. Love everything about it? In. Kids want it, but it comes with some stress? Debatable.
The goal was to scale down our commitments. We decided which items stayed on the calendar and which ones came off. Michael is an introvert, so downtime is very important for him and his key to making it through the busy, people-filled holidays in one piece. And since I've found myself craving more downtime, too, we tried to spread things out during the month to give our family needed margin as we went along.
We also scaled down our gift buying. We started this a few years ago when we implemented the Four Gifts approach to Christmas. Have you heard of this?
If you haven't, prepare to thank me as this is a GAME CHANGER!
To make gift giving simpler and keep the focus on the reason for the season, each kid gets four gifts: something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.
Brilliant! It takes the stress out of gift buying and the extravagance out of gift giving by simplifying. Our kids have totally embraced this approach, too, and now design their gift lists with the Want/Need/Wear/Read headers.
The goal of the strategy session, starting early, and scaling down is so we can savor this beautiful season. I can't even tell you how many years I found myself wrapping gifts at midnight on Christmas eve cursing the fact that the wrapping paper would be on those gifts for less than eight hours.
Eight hours, people!
When I plan ahead, I get to savor December moments with my family. I get to sit quietly staring at the twinkle lights instead of rushing out the door to pick up one more gift. I get to be present while making memories instead of checking my watch or mentally reviewing my to-do list.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not perfect at this and the 2016 holiday season hasn't been all visions of sugar plums. But, I'm moving in the right direction. I'm slowing down. I'm reflecting on Jesus and how the world changed 2,000 years ago when a baby was born who would become the King of Kings.
And through the process, I'm finding that I like Christmas again.
It's not too late for you, too. Take one or two ideas from this post or my post for Des Moines Moms Blog. In doing so, I hope you have yourself a PRESENT little Christmas.