Christmas……..in September.

Yeah, I know.  It’s September and here I am thinking about Christmas.   About re-evaluating it. I thought now would be a good time to begin thinking about entering into the holiday season with a new mindset this year.

Let’s face it.  Times are tough.  Jobs are being lost.  Savings spent.

I’m trying to look at this re-evaluation thing as an opportunity .  A chance to focus on the true meaning of the season and to create memories that can last a life time.

Here’s how I’m going to go about it:

Family Meeting:

1. Visit with Reed.  Talk about the years we thought Christmas went great, and why. Share the ideas I have for re-evaluating Christmas this year.  I’m actually pretty lucky.  Reed is more thrilled the less we spend.  You may have a harder time if you are married to someone who loves to totally go all out each year…..regardless of the consequences come January.

2. Meet as a family and discuss what MY KIDS think are the most important activities for the Christmas season. My friend was really surprised to discover what her kids thought were important verses what SHE thought they would think were important.

Some questions to discuss:

  • What is the most important thing we, as a family, can do this year to truly celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ?
  • What is your favorite Christmas tradition?
  • What is missing that you would like to include?
  • What do you wish we could do away with altogether?


The (new) Family Plan

Put our plan on paper.  Calendar all holiday activities in advance. If it is something that costs money start putting a bit by NOW rather than waiting until December when money is already stretched.  The stuff for making gingerbread houses can be pricey if you don’t take the time to plan ahead.

Call family and let them know of any impeding changes in gift giving or family plans.  It may take a minute for others to get used to our new plan.  But they will.  I just need to take the time to explain why we are choosing to make this new plan.


But…..what about gifts?

Take a minute and think of how much was spent last year for Christmas.

Too little? Too much? Just right?

What’s our budget this year?

I’ll be the first to admit that for years my Christmas gift lists for my kids were strongly rooted in……guilt and worry.

Yup.

I found myself worrying whether my kids’ gifts would be as much as their friends. I had a neighbor who wrapped so many presents for her kids that they would flow from her family room, down the hallway, and all the way up her staircase as well as around her living room. I wanted my kids to be proud to tell their friends of all the things they received for Christmas too.

Each year for the last 6 years the gifts under our tree have become less and less.

We are cutting our budget back even more this year.  We have to.

You know what? It has been…..and will continue to be……wonderful.

There has yet to be a Christmas in the last 6 years where I have missed the frantic unwrapping of gifts and the immediate wind down of disappointment once those 20 minutes are done.

That’s it!  Christmas is over!   Nobody leaves until you’ve stuffed all your wrapping paper into the garbage bag.

sigh.

Somehow celebrating the birth of our Savior has turned into a season of stress, traffic jams, shopping lists and guilt.

Maybe this year could be the year of less presents and more presence….more memories….more family…..more love…..more gratitude for the gift of our Savior’s birth.

I’m absolutely convinced that it is possible to spend less while giving more.

How about you?

About Tammy and Parker

Special Needs Blogger, and homeschooling Mom, heavily involved in advocacy for all kids with special needs in Utah.

Comments

  1. When my husband and I were first married, we gave each other ten dollars to spend on X-mas presents. The gifts weren’t large, but they were meaningful. Even now, Charlie only gets one gift from us. He has plenty of stuff.

  2. Katy,

    I wish I had been as smart as you are. My kids have plenty of stuff as well.

  3. i’m so in the same boat. Last year just about killed me. we were in such a bad way I actually sold some jewelry just to be able to by gifts for the kids, it was bad.
    i was thinking about having the same kind of meeting with my family this year.
    My oldest wants a cell phone and the words DS have already been brought to my attention. It’s not going to happen.
    I think I’ll wait for an update on your meeting . LOL

  4. Our (great) minds think alike, Tammy. I think the family meeting is a great idea considering the ages of your children. You all will benefit from preparation and the children feeling a part of the process if you are planning big changes.

    We got to this attitude early in our marriage after I attended a meeting at church called “Christmas Your Way”. Apparently there is a book by that title but I have never read it. The basic concept is to resist the social pressures to buy more or meet others expectations.

    The most difficult aspect of trying to do ‘Christmas our way’ has been dealing with extended family who persisted in pressuring us with gift giving and additional gatherings.

    It’s not just about money. It is a mind-set.

    • Barbara,

      Another reason I want to do this with my family is because the world my older kids will soon be entering is totally different from the world they grew up in.

      Reed and I are working to counsel our kids NOT to go into debt and to have the courage to buck the consumerism that blinds so many.

  5. We have friends that refuse to do big Christmas. They give each child one moderate gift and 2 small ones—just like what the Wise Men brought Jesus. I love this idea! My best friend does something totally different:
    Something you want
    Something you need
    Something to play with
    Something to read.

    It’s cool! I love these ideas.

    Been thinking of you…always in our prayers! xoxox

  6. We only bought one gift for Alex last year. My in-laws, having finally been convinced that adults don’t need presents, decided that he needed twelve boxes of stuff. And they wanted him to sit and open them all, after dinner, at bedtime.

    *sigh*

    I suppose I can’t expect much improvement on that front – these are the people who were upset we didn’t want to spend Christmas with them the year before, while Alex was in the NICU. After all, he wouldn’t notice if we weren’t there (!). The day after Christmas, they came with a car load of gifts, and were upset that we wouldn’t allow the bags and boxes in the hospital. Instead they made us sit at home and open all those gifts, most of which were useless in the NICU for a kid who was still struggling to breathe.

    Some days I wonder about them.

    It’s easy for us right now to avoid the hype. We’re not Christian, so we’re not quite so tied up in the holiday tradtions – we’re building our own, one year at a time. Our son is smaller and doesn’t know about all the things his future friends will be exposing him to. We don’t watch much tv, we don’t buy a lot of stuff…but some day soon, that will be an issue, and I hope we’re prepared.

  7. Something you want
    Something you need
    Something to play with
    Something to read.

    I like that!!

    We’ve always been very conservative with gifts for any occasion. We try to focus on events rather than gifts, we can always point back to what we “did” each Christmas, rather than what we got. I also try to cook different meals, to make it special.

    We tend to get each other one gift, and the kids get one main gift, then a game or book plus some candy in their stockings. Most years, my husband and I don’t get each other anything.

    And, being from a large family, 6 kids we draw names, or play “tricky santa”, where everyone brings something to the day and you draw numbers and everyone gets to choose their gift, with the person after them getting to take their gift or choose a new one. If your gift is taken, you get to choose a new one. :) It’s a lot of fun, and we usually pack up something from our house…one year I packed up some tupperware plates we all used as kids, and I somehow ended up with. They were the hottest item, with all of my siblings stealing them away from the previous person!

  8. Kelli Stever says:

    Totally onboard with you! We will be doing this also!

  9. Hello Tammy, long time no posting on my part. I have been very ill for over a year now, but I think I am finally on the right track.

    My husband and I do not give out many gifts because that just isn’t the purpose.

    I will handmake a few items to give out at work, and to some family members, but that will be about it. What I do give out is Christmas cards. I love getting them, and love to give them out.

    The times that we live in today is not conducive to spending money on things that are not necessary.

    Take care, love and God Bless always,

    Kay

  10. After going broke last year buying toys that ended up in either the trash or closet, never too be seen again, I’m wanting to make some drastic changes this year. In addition to saving money, I want my children to learn the true spirit of giving at the same time. Instead of just thinking of themselves, I want my kids to learn the true spirit of giving, so I have my kids make 2 lists. One for items they would like for Christmas, within a budget, and another list of items or small deeds that could make a big difference for someone in need. It could either be someone at school, in the community, or volunteering our time at either a local children’s hospital, the food bank or the homeless shelter. This is our first year doing this, so I’m hoping it will make a difference.

  11. Also, folllowing up to what Kay mentioned, some of the best gifts I have received have been home made gifts. Those are the gifts I remember most, because I know they came from the heart. Another great idea I will impliment into our Christmas routine this year. :)