Whenever I hear anyone say that they don't like Christmas or the Holiday Season because it's too "commercial" I feel a little pain in my heart. It honestly hurts me a little bit. I love the Christmas crowds, and the festive lights and music. I love spending time with family, and celebrating the true meaning of Christmas. I love waking up early on Christmas morning to see the joy and excitement on my children's faces. It's magic.
I'll admit, it is fairly easy to get swept up in the hustle and bustle of the Season. Most people want what's best for their kids, and for some that means always buying the latest and greatest. And since there is always going to be a latest and greatest, it's easy to go overboard and get stressed out. But it doesn't have to be that way. I truly believe that with a little effort on our part, Christmas can be whatever we want it to be.
The first step is to START EARLY!
At the end of August every year my husband and I make our Santa List. We write down all the people we need to buy presents for, any ideas we might have, and how much we are going to spend on that person. It may sound crazy, but it works.
Sales start before black Friday, and the selection is better. With months to shop, it's easy to find the perfect present in almost any price range. Games are in stock, they almost always have the right size, and the elusive toy is easy to find. It's almost like Christmas!
This year try making your own Santa list. And don't forget to check it often. If you make the list and just put it away, it won't do you any good. It has to be an active part of your shopping experience. It is okay to cross something off if it's not turning out as nice-ly as you originally thought. The list is meant to be a guide, it's not set in stone.
Another way to make the Holiday Season more meaningful is to concentrate on the family. As much as I love opening presents on Christmas morning, what I really love are the memories from my childhood.
I can't remember what Santa brought me, but I do remember sleeping on the floor with all of my sisters the night before. I remember that my younger sister and I would wake up early and sneak upstairs to look through everyone's stockings. We would switch out the things we didn't want and then fill the stockings back up. Then we would lie down in front of the Christmas tree and fall asleep. When we woke up we would usually find that our stockings had mysteriously changed again. That was Christmas.
Now that I am old and grown, I can't sneak upstairs on Christmas morning. But I can help my children create their own priceless memories.
One way to do just that is by establishing family traditions. Family traditions don't have to be big or expensive. For example, every year we take a full day to make our own Christmas Ornaments. When we first got married we had to make a lot of ornaments because we had a big tree and nothing to put on it. Believe me, it took all day. But now that we've established the tradition we have a full day to spend with family and end up adding just one or two ornaments each.
The actual tradition doesn't matter, but the time with family does. Don't get too busy that you can't enjoy it. Love and family make up the spirit of the Holiday Season. Focusing on them and what matters most in life is what makes it different, makes it special. So start the season early this year, and make Christmas whatever you want it to be.