In the annuls of our family history, this Christmas will probably be remembered as the quietest and calmest ever. And let me tell you what I've discovered.
I like it
Christmases past have found us scurrying about, shopping at the last minute for more "schtuff", for food, for this and that, and traveling hundreds of miles to be with one or both families on Christmas.
I do love my family.
But traveling at Christmas is
This year we did some things differently. We are not traveling on Christmas. We saw my family at Thanksgiving. We are going to see Joal's extended family in Florida after Christmas. But for only the second time in our marriage, we will be "just us" at home on Christmas. The last time we were "just us" at home for Christmas, I was pregnant with Julian. (He's about to turn 11.) Pregnant women can get away with some shinanigans, ya know, and that year I unilatterally decided that I couldn't/wouldn't be travelling hundreds of miles for Christmas (at 7 months)...so the family came to me.
But I digress.
This year, Joal and I decided to make an effort to keep Christmas lite. We didn't do the full-blown decorations that we usually do and our tree is covered in only simple white lights. I absolutely love it. I go outside every night just so I can admire our light-covered tree thru the front window. I may never hang ornaments again.
Shopping was minimal. We asked our parents to make a donation to a certain children's ministry that we love instead of buying us gifts and they graciously agreed to do so. They also generously allowed us to do the same on their behalf. That was a more meaningful gesture to me than anything they could have given us, and we took care of 4 presents with one check.
Joal and I are exchanging love letters this year. And a small gift. It's been a while since I've been the recipent of a love letter from the man I love (or any other man over the age of ten, for that matter) and I must say, I think I'm anticipating this more than any gift in recent history.
Earlier in the month, the boys and I packed care packages for some children who wouldn't otherwise have very big Christmases this year and Julian and I had a pretty long conversation (for us, anyway) about how blessed we are and how important it is to be a generous giver to other people--even people you don't know.
I started picking up Christmas gifts for the boys back in October. I was determined not to be shopping at the last minute (when I'm most prone to impulsivity, lack of thought and overspending) and I am happy to say I managed to get it all together by mid-December. Not to brag, or anything... :) It feels good tho. The gifts are done. There's nothing outrageous under our tree...simple things that I know each of them will appreciate.
Today we will attend church in the morning--it's a special family Christmas service and I'm sure it will be a wonderful crescendo to the holiday weekend. Later in the evening, Joal will be part of the band for the evening service of Christmas Mass. Not a proper Mass...as we are Presbyterian, but something similar. (Maybe you'd have to be there to understand.) Following, we'll have a quiet evening at home. I will make my annual call to my father to wish him a happy birthday.
Christmas Day will bring the usual early morning reading of the Christmas story and opening of gifts. Breakfast and then the traditional (somewhat modified) Turkey lunch.
Then some football.
Of course, there must be football.
The testosterone in the house demands a little football on holidays.
It's far from storybook perfection--I know. I've been reading the Southern Living Christmas Annuals since I was a kid and dreaming of the
gifts wrapped perfectly in paper that matches the hand-tied bows...
but I've come to understand that it's not real. Christmas is not about the images of projected perfection that I can create. It's about a Savior who came to bring us a way to everlasting perfection...not in this life, but the next.
*My* life is found in contentment and in realizing that my home is not a showplace, but it is warm and clean. My sons hate plaid and one has a black eye. The tree is beautiful, if slightly leaning to one side. I accomplished hand-made cards this year--something I have not accomplished in years past and have always regretted. The meal will not be fancy, but it will be good and there will be plenty. None of our gifts will be considered astonishing, but will be deeply appreciated as they were chosen with thought and care. There will be plenty of hugs and hot chocolate.
What more could a girl ask for?
I hope this Christmas sets a precedent for us. It's different from our normal and I like it. It seems calmer than years past.
Calmer, and more focused.
However you choose to celebrate this year, I hope it's meaningful and filled with a loving peaceful spirit and plenty of people you hold dear.
For unto us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be upon his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor,
Prince of Peace.
God bless us every one.