I am happily surrounded by Christmas decorations this week and will have a house tour plus tutorials for some cute little crafty bits you can add to your holiday decorations this year, all coming next week. But before we get to that, I wanted to share a bit about how my approach to Christmas gifts has changed this year.
I’ve had downsizing Christmas on my brain since last year. You might recall that we moved into our new house last year eight days before Christmas. We didn’t have a tree and I didn’t put up a single decoration. It snowed a foot the day before we moved and another foot the night we moved in. The movers practically destroyed the floors in both houses with all the snow and grit they tracked in. My husband had a gout flare up and couldn’t really help with the heavy lifting. I shoveled two driveways, hauled half a dozen car loads of trash to the dump, and cleaned the old house top to bottom after the movers tracked all the mess inside. Our pipes froze the day we moved into the new house so we had no heat on the first floor, my husband wound up having to travel for work, both my girls started vomiting the next day, and I came down with a nasty sinus infection.
Point being, I was so dragged down by the stress of it all I wasn’t really feeling too much Christmas spirit last year.
We celebrated Christmas at my in-laws’ house a few days later and as my girls absolutely tore through their gifts, tossing them aside with barely a glance, I had this sickening pit in my stomach. We had to take a break from the gift-opening halfway through after my then five year-old threw a game aside and said, “That doesn’t even look fun.” It was the complete opposite of the joy, gratefulness, and magic I usually feel at Christmastime and what I hope my daughters will get out of it.
We need to teach our girls to be grateful and gracious when someone gives them a gift, no matter what, but I also felt like some (a lot?) of the blame rested on me. When I’d shopped for their gifts I kept spotting things they’d like and basically just bought it all. I was so distracted by the move that I didn’t put that much thought into and didn’t do nearly enough editing. There were so many gifts last year they couldn’t even really see them for what they were anymore.
I pretty much decided that day that things would be different this year. I was talking to my mom about how I was feeling after Christmas and she told me that a family friend gives her children three gifts each year, because that’s what Jesus got. Which I thought was brilliant – meaningful and it sort of naturally lends itself to quality over quantity. I put a lot of thought into my girls’ gifts this year and really think they will love what they’re getting, and will be able to focus on them because they won’t be drowning in so many boxes.
I’m feeling very aware that this intentional downsizing of Christmas is a luxury. I’m not downsizing because we’re out of work or have lost a child or are struggling to make ends meet. I’m choosing to do it. And I want my girls to know that giving is as much a part of Christmas as receiving, if not more. Tomorrow I’m going to take them shopping for diapers, wipes, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, snacks, juice boxes, hats, mittens, and gifts to drop off at a local library collecting items for a shelter one town over from us. I don’t want to make my little girls feel sad, but I also want them to understand how very fortunate they are and that there are many, many children out there who don’t have the little things that we so easily take for granted.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve really deeply felt the magic of Christmastime. I lost that a little bit last year but am feeling such a surge of it this December. I guess it still remains to be seen if my little downsizing experiment works but I’m feeling so good about everything this year and really feel like we’re on the right track.
Hope you’re having a good week – tutorial coming tomorrow so swing back again then!