Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Simple Celebration

 Is God glorified in the chaos of December?  Do your children need to be involved in every available Christmas Pageant, Christmas Caroling and Christmas Cookie activity in order to grasp the true meaning of the holiday? Gifts may not leave a lasting impression, but the mood of the season will.  You can make it joyous or traumatic.  Last year I recall my boys asking..."Mommy, can we just stay home and play with our new toys?"  Oh, that broke my heart.  It was January and they had barely an opportunity to enjoy their presents.      
I've started too many Januarys frazzled, sick and feeling most unsociable after "celebrating" Christmas.  My kids always get less sleep and more sugar during December, which kills the immune system.  All of this in the name of Baby Jesus?  
When I found out that I was expecting our fourth child in December I felt very justified in keeping our calendar clear for the entire month.  What a blessing that has been! 
Less cooking, less driving and less meltdowns. 
More naps, move home movies and more smiles.  
So far our Christmas has been simple and I LOVE IT.  It has freed me to do some meaningful activities with the boys, wrapping presents has been fun and I don't dread the few activities that are coming up.  Here is what we've been up to...
Let's start with the decorations.  Some find enjoyment in spending an entire Saturday picking out the perfect tree, strapping it to the top of their vehicle, getting it through the door of their house, maneuvering it within the confines of a tree stand, then adding water, lights and ornaments!
This year I opted for the modest Norfolk Island Pine available at Home Depot this year for $9.98!  It is adorned with a 10 ft. set of lights that costs $2.50 and I covered the base with a yard of burlap and some ribbon.  It sits on a corner table surrounded by gifts.  I didn't have to rearrange furniture and the gifts are less tempting for the two year old to touch.  Simple yet lovely!
Moving on to the gift wrapping.  I've gone from six rolls of Christmas Wrapping Paper to one large roll of Pacon Black Kraft Paper.  Packages are adored with Regency Baker's Twine and family artwork with Oil Pastels and a White Sharpie® Poster-Paint Marker.  (All available from Amazon) The best part about this method of wrapping is that my boys were able to be involved with touching any scissors or tape!  The two, six and ten year old all enjoyed the chance to create their own artwork for the gifts.     
And guess what kind of wrapping paper I'll be using for birthdays from now on?  That's right- black paper.  No more buying overpriced Birthday, Wedding & Baby Shower Paper for me.  I'm going to make this paper work for every occasion, because I'm not a fan of clutter.     
Adoring the Baby of Christmas is a top priority for our family.  I collected ideas on my Pinterest Board entitled Keeping Christ in Christmas and used many of them this past month.  The boys and I have been practicing a puppet show to present to their Daddy on Christmas Eve that tells of the birth of Jesus using Popscicle Stick Puppets.  To print your own Puppets, head over to Bible Fun for Kids.
Our boys are ready to burst with excitement on Christmas Eve so each year we allow them to open one gift.  I typically pick a random gift under the tree, but this year I purchased specific gifts for the evening. 
The gifts include a Nativity Stained Glass Coloring Book, Crayola Washable Super Tip Markers and a movie for the evening - Spunky's First Christmas.  I've never seen the movie before, but I've read the book to the children many times.  It tells a tale of an adopted dog who learns the concept of having a loving master.
I've already made Cheddar Topped Shepherd's Pie for Christmas Eve dinner and tucked it away in the freezer.  If I pull out the paper plates I'll have NO cooking or dishes that night!    
So now we wait.  Baby #4 should be here soon.  We have a lot to look forward to (without the stress) in the days ahead.  If you're in the midst of a hectic Christmas keep in mind that it is OK to say "No" to the constant opportunity to "celebrate".  Don't take it personal if an invitation is declined.  December is not the only month to arrange gatherings and activities.  There are many winter days ahead of us...may we have less snow than last year!   
Merry Christmas from our family to yours!  

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