Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christmas 2011

The fall of this past year was so incredibly busy. A real juggling act between home and outside commitments. Much of what was going on required mental effort. By the time Christmas break from homeschooling came around, I very much felt that I needed a break. Mostly a break from thinking :)

I love what CHRISTmas is really about. I love the family time and traditions that we have at Christmas. I hate when those special times are polluted with stress. This Christmas I was so very determined to avoid the feeling of stress that comes with so much we "have to do". I had to keep evaluating all through the season what I really wanted or needed to do and what just "felt" important or necessary. I wasn't sure what "simplifying" Christmas was going to look like, but I felt that it was necessary.

This year we never put up any lights outside. Not on the house, not in the bushes (we always at least do this:), none of the wreaths went up on the front windows or the front door, no lit garland around the front door. This year I just didn't do any of it. At first, it wasn't my intent not to do it at all, but when I kept not getting around to it, I finally just decided it was too late to be worth the trouble. I didn't put up many of the indoor decorations that I sometimes do. None of the Santa pictures from years past were drug out of hiding. I didn't do any real baking this year. No baked gifts for friends. Sometimes I genuinely enjoy the baking, but this year, I just didn't want to do the grocery shopping necessary for baking. So I skipped it all this year.

So what did I do with all that time I usually would have been doing other things? I spent LOTS of hours chillin' with my teenagers. Watching tv. Watching movies. Drinking coffee. Drinking hot chocolate. Making and enjoying frappes. Playing Wii with Jessie. Snuggling. We rented so many movies from Redbox while we've been on break from homeschooling! It has been such a deliciously relaxing time. I can't remember when I've spent this much time doing...nothing. This might not be the same way another family would choose to relax, but without spending any money(redbox is so cheap it doesn't count:), this was our escape, and it has been so wonderful.

I had not done any Christmas shopping till well after Thanksgiving, so I started to get a bit stressed with shopping, shopping, shopping, looking for certain elusive items for my kids. Each time that feeling started to sneak up on me I just refused to let it be.

I have done some long overdue organizational projects around the house, partly in anticipation of having a houseful of folks Christmas day. And partly, just because I always try to take advantage of school breaks to accomplish projects that there isn't time for when school's going on. But, it didn't seem so daunting since I'd had some down time to clear my head. In the months leading up to Christmas, there were times it literally hurt just to think...not do, just think about some things that needed to be done. I had taken to saying, "lalalalalala", when someone brought something up that I couldn't bear to think about. I'm not exaggerating the level of mental exhaustion that I felt. Overwhelmed. Putting off important things because my mind was just too full.

Simplifying Christmas this year was just what we needed. We had a great Christmas! I hope next year that I will add back some of the things I skipped out on this year. We'll see, but this year Christmas was exactly as it needed to be.

We DID put up the tree :) Years ago, my mother in law (who is with Jesus now) gave us some lights that play music, every year they are first to go on the tree. I sat in the recliner, the music from the lights playing while we decorated. All but Jessie enjoyed coffee while we decorated. As I pulled each ornament out of the box, I reminded the kids where nearly every ornament came from. Me, the person who can't remember yesterday :) I would hand the ornaments to the kids and they would put them on the tree. A sweet, special time. As I think about it now, I can remember and feel the sweetness of that time together. I am ever mindful, that with a 15 and 17 year old, the time I have left with them at home is precious.

I don't recall, before this year, having been to church on the actual Christmas Day. We had a very sweet,simple service on Christmas Day. The thoughts and feelings from the service stayed with us, hovering over the rest of the day. We had The Lord's Supper. It seemed so fitting on the day of celebrating His birth, to remember His sacrifice for us. How very much He loves us. I remember singing the words, "For He alone is worthy", my heart full of thankfulness and praise.

Since Christmas, we've still been playing wii and watching movies. Starting to try to get our minds around the idea that tomorrow we start back to school. Even though I'm not looking forward to going back to the usual schedule, I do feel refreshed in a way that I definitely don't usually after Christmas break. It's been so nice to just be still.

I'm hoping that I can find a way to modify my "if it causes stress, just skip it" philosophy to everyday life. With three kids, it is just so hard to discern the good (all the good things we participate in) from the best (not taking on so much that there is no peace in my cluttered mind).

As we TRY to get out of bed tomorrow at a reasonable hour, and start back to school, I'm hoping not to need the words, "lalalalalala" :)

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