(this is not our house, I just found it online and thought it was neat!)
Every year after Thanksgiving, we put the tree and lights up, we get the decorations out and the Christmas records and excitement and joy flood my heart. But then a few weeks later, the excitement and joy slowly disappear and stress and anxiety replace it. Instead of focusing on Christ, which is what Christmas really is about, I start obsessing about what things we're going to be able to get the boys, what I wish I could get Ross, and figuring out how in the world we can bless our families and others on such a tight budget. I'm starting to realize that in the past, I have let our budget determine my joy, which is really sad. I don't want to that anymore.
This year, our Christmas budget for the boys is really small. Like really really small. We don't normally buy them a lot of things anyway because they get a lot from everyone, and we try as hard as we can to stay free of consumerism/materialism; even though we always seem to fall into it a little every year. And sad to say, we don't do the thing where we save up all year, or even a few months in advance. Every year at Christmas I think man, we should have been saving all year long...but we're just not able to do that at this time. So, I've gotten the boys a few things and may get them a few more, but I am determined not to let our budget steal my joy this year.
Gifts are exciting. I know we always want to focus on giving instead of receiving, but who doesn't get excited when they open a present? I know I do. When we reference something exciting, we say "like a kid on Christmas morning." Seeing all the new things you have gotten is pretty exciting. Which got me thinking about our Christmas this year. We aren't able to get our kids mounds of gifts this year, so how can we, as a family, still keep the mystery and excitement in Christmas?
Of course Jesus is our main source of joy and excitement during this time of year (and all year). But kids don't always fully understand that. Heck, I don't even think I fully understand it. So, I had an idea. This year, instead of focusing on what the kids are getting, and instead of letting that be the main thing that gets them excited (which is what we've done in the past), I'm going to gear us more toward the things we do together as a family. We started a tradition of going to get frozen custard and looking at Christmas lights, but I want there to be more traditions, more memories. We may not always remember the gifts we receive, but we remember times spent with people, fun things we've done together. Those are the times that we cherish most. So, I looked online I found some inexpensive/frugal activities to do during Christmas time. Some people do an advent calendar which is kind of like this, but I'm not doing a calendar per se. We'll just do them randomly, not on certain days. Here are a few things I'm considering doing as a family and maybe doing with some of our friends:
- The notorious cookie making/decorating. I think we've only tried this once, but we may make a bigger deal about it this year. We may invite our friends over for this one!
- Visit widows and nursing homes in my area. We did a Halloween parade at a couple of homes in October and it was so great. They enjoyed seeing the kiddos and the kids enjoyed the residents also. We may do this again for Christmas.
- Make homemade ornaments. I think we're going to start doing that every year and adding them to our tree.
- Collect your children's old crayons. Peel and place into Christmas candy molds. Place in pans of hot water to melt, or if the molds are heat resistant, melt at low setting in the microwave or oven. Cool and let your children create Christmas cards and pictures for others with their "new crayons."
- Study how other cultures and countries celebrate Christmas. Try incorporating a foreign tradition into your celebration.
- Invite the neighbors over for hot cocoa, coffee and cookies (Loooove this idea, plan on doing this one for sure)
- Do something outside together on Christmas morning. If its snowing, have a play time in the snow. If its not snowing, we could do another outside activity.
Christmas can be exciting and joy-filled even if we only get a few things, or even no things for Christmas. I truly hope all of you have a great holiday season. Make memories with your family and let's stop worrying about all the things we think they need!