Monday, December 18, 2006

The Things I Like About Christmas

Remember a couple of days ago I mentioned getting the book "Simplify Your Christmas"....well, I sat down yesterday and read through it and it sure made a lot of sense. The first thing it said to do is to think about what you like about Christmas. So I'm going to do that right here....not in any particular order....

1. The excitement of finding the perfect gift for someone. In my case I don't think I manage to do that very often but I sure do try!
2. Making, ornaments, wreaths, all kinds of decorations and little vignettes to have around the house.
3. "It's a Wonderful Life"....I love that movie and watch it every year
4. The lights and candles and fireplaces all aglow
5. Having my family around me
6. Good cheer and happiness on everyone's faces everywhere you go
7. Listening to Christmas music on Christmas Eve
8. The peacefulness that seems to be missing lately
9. Laughter and fun with friends and family (I guess that's almost the same as #5)
10. Seeing all of it through the eyes of a child
11. The smell of pine trees
12. Wrapping gifts and knowing that I'm going to surprise someone

Then the book said to look back over the list and see how many things you've been doing year after year that aren't on the list. We get caught up in "traditions" that we think we must continue at all costs. But that really isn't true.

I can still enjoy all of the above even if I don't have a Christmas tree filling my living room. I can still enjoy all of those things without driving myself insane with shopping, wrapping, and trying to make everything perfect.

One of the things in the book is "Let Go of What You Think Are Other People's Expectations" that one really struck a chord with me. I always tried to give my kids the kind of Christmas I thought they expected....or the kind I thought they wanted. Now my son doesn't even celebrate Christmas....he does the winter solstice instead. And My daughter isn't into all the usual trappings so what did I accomplish for all those years?? I don't feel bad about it but just accept it for what it is....we all need to celebrate things in our own way no matter what Madison Avenue says!

I like all the decorations but I don't like all the mess of dragging everything out, sorting through it, doing the tree (which usually takes HB and me two days to do!!) and then all I can think about during the holiday is that I'll have to turn around and un-do all of it when it's over!! So I think a few well-placed items will just have to do it for me.

The other thing I found astounding in this book was that each year Americans spend $800 million in stamps to send $4 billion in holiday cards!!! And this book was written in 1998 so I'm sure it's even more now. That seems disgusting and completely insane when you think about all that could be done with that kind of money to help people in need.

This year I made all my cards but I think this will be the last year I do Christmas cards. After reading that statistic it just seems ridiculous when most of the time the cards sit on someone's mantel for a week or two and then end up in the trash.

So for everyone out there who has given me encouragement to find my Christmas spirit, I don't think it was ever was just hidden by a lot of unnecessary stuff that over the years became what I thought I "had" to do. I feel much better now that I've read this book! I can look forward to doing the things I want to do and decorating in the way I want without thinking I've committed some "crime" against "tradition"....


  1. I am finally getting around to commenting bit by bit. I think everything you just posted is absolutely true. The holidays are about our individual means to have peace..and if that means bucking what is considered "traditional" then so be it. Because the ONLY traditions we need adhere to are the ones we ourselves make. For many reasons we haven't really had what you'd call a traditional Christmas in 3 years (this being one)...but with my love at my side...that's all the joy I need.
    I agree about Christmas cards as well...but just so you know, your handmade card you sent will never go in the trash!

  2. Blogger, as well as time constraints have made it difficult to visit. I've just been reading through some of your more recent posts. Interesting that your children did not embrace your holiday tradiions from their childhood. I have one that is very "into Christmas" and one (my son) who really doesn't celebrate at all.
    great post...

  3. Tradition can be a very binding force, one that seems to steal the joy right out of what we are doing. The book you read through seems to have set you free to just enjoy the Christmas season and do what you want to instead of feeling
    like you have to. Yeah! and as Lisa
    said, Your hand made cards will never see the trash.Merry Christmas

  4. I save my cards from year to year...I love going back through some of them....the hand made cards are so precious....

  5. I'm so proud of you Janet. I think I went through something similar, but years ago. My daughter was having more than the typical rough patch in teen years and was a runaway along with several other things. Anyway, it ended up that several years before I thought I was finished mothering, I was finished. And it was about that time when I discovered, gradually, that I didn't like all the work of Christmas, but I did like all the fun of Christmas. This year we didn't even put up the outdoor lights. Tim has a hard time getting on a ladder and being stable, so we just didn't. We have a 19" (really awful, but Tim loves it!) little lighted tree and I put that up and a wreath outside and put red and green table cloth and runner on the dinning room table. Tim loves it and so do I. I feel very full of the Christmas spirit. I send a letter each year and don't go to the trouble of buying and signing and all that jazz, Christmas cards. It isn't about what others thinks makes us happy, we are in total agreement. And my kids wanted this and that at Christmas, and I told them that it was time for them to make their own traditions with their own children. It makes sense to me. Now, we each do what we want on Christmas and have a lovely time and full of joy! It's a day for heaven's sake! One day! Big deal! And yet I listen to Christmas Carols and other Christmas music all year long and really enjoy this time of year. I give gifts I want to those I love and that is it. I love it.

  6. Hi, Janet! I love what the book advised. I also sit here today without a tree. The rest of my decorations are on display in the house, with only a wreath on two doors on the outside. I think I'll put up a tree tonight...I usually do that the first weekend of December, because I hate all the unpacking of everything and then re-packing it, and putting the tree up early at least helps to make the time worth it. I've just been behind this year, but for the grandkids' sake, I want a tree! We do have family traditions, and our three adult children have carried them on in their married lives...I love the fact that they have done that. This year, I have cut down on the amount of gifts, although everyone will still get a pretty good "haul"!! I love Christmas music, all lights out except for the tree, the mantel decs, and other decs that light up, and I LOVE the look in the little kids' eyes. I quit sending cards several years ago, but I do send New Year cards to close friends and family in January, usually with a Christmas snapshot of the family. Gotta show off those grandkids!! I like the January card thing because I have no deadline. By the way, I started a blog, but have no idea what I'm doing yet...I have no particular theme...just my thoughts here and there... but it's fun so far...

    Have a good holiday season! Enjoy!!

  7. Hi Jan!
    I thought I'd visit your blog for a change! :-)
    I found myself feeling a lot like you this year...dragging the stuff down from the attic and decorating was not as exciting as usual. Maybe because my sons are older now. I guess if they joined in and helped me, that might make me more such luck!
    I'm glad you are feeling more "in the spirit" on your own it should be. Have fun!

  8. ...and merry christmas to all and to all a goodnight..what a lovely post Janet!!
    PEace, Kai.

  9. This makes so much sense Janet, unfortunately it has taken me almost 60 years to figure it out..!
    Tradition is all well and good, but if it turns what should be a happy family time, into an expensive and stressful experience, what is the point..?

    March to your own drummer, and make your own traditions I say..!

  10. BTW...your Christmas card to me will never be tossed aside..
    I know what went into making it and value that far to much to do that.

  11. We all have to find our own ways of celebrating Christmas, because we ourselves can be the only ones who know what is the right way for us. Glad you found your christmas spirit was just hiding for a while.

  12. Dear Janet
    I plan on pondering this post, then writing my own list... I have dropped so many things that I used to do....including cards...But I do take pinking shears and cut out all the best parts of the previous years cards for gift tags, a tradition my mom started! Like Gemma though, I save all cards, and have over thirty years worth in binders. One day I will read through them!

    We have made new traditions around here, only because it was a necessity! I really have been simplifying Christmas to suit my life, but still it's a lot of work! Wonderful post, full of great inspiration!

    Peace and Christmas spirit to you

  13. you know, I didn't send Christmas cards out this year and felt a little guilty but after reading this post - I feel ok with it.
    I am one who feels I 'have' to do many things at this time of year (as you know from my cake post) I am slowly trying to let is hard for me but I will keep on trying! I just want a simple, peaceful Christmas minus all the trappings
    I vote that next year we encourage each other to keep it simpler xo

  14. Yay! I love this post, and all the comments, too! I whole-heartedly agree with it all. I love your son's idea of celebrating the Solstice. I was hoping to get to join in with the celebrations for that over here - people gather at Stonehenge and Glastonbury Tor, amongst others, I'm sure, and watch the sunrise on the morning of the Solstice.
    Good on you, Janet, for not giving in to the pressure. I hope you have a very happy time with your family.

  15. preach it sistah!! I've been wondering about Christmas cards. Years ago we had strings of them up, and sent lots too, but it has dwindled and dwindled. Now we don't do them at all, and receive very few too. Is this just a South African thing, or do you notice it around the world? Have e-mails eroded the hard copy variety? I'd be interested to hear from you about that!

  16. My daughter and I have a tradition of not spending money we don't have, and not using energy we have to pay for, and not decorating. I just put up what I receive in the mail from friends, around my mirror over the fire place and I open my heart and senses to the energy that is in the air that is this holiday season. It is so alive and so fulfilling. I love it this way, simple, peace filled and full of a world wide celebration that is truly delightful. All I do is open to it.


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