Simplifying Christmas

By Megan Stonelake

I love Christmas. I’m the lady who starts listening to Christmas carols on November 1st, and we’re putting up the tree before we’ve opened the first window on our Advent calendar. I love the season, the food, the music, and the traditions. But none of that compares to experiencing the magic of Christmas through the eyes of my six-year-old son. Christmas as a parent is every bit as magical as the Christmases of my own childhood.

Since I love the holiday so much, I can get, how should I say, carried away. I want every moment to be infused with Christmas cheer, I expect each event to be a precious memory-making opportunity, and I’m constantly on the lookout for the perfect photo op for our Christmas card. By the time Christmas actually rolls around, I’m usually exhausted.

Not this year, people! This year I’m reining it in. I’m not breaking my own rule about buying junk toys that will immediately break. I’m not going to put pressure on myself to bake all the things on Pinterest. Nor will I expect the things I do bake to look anything like the pictures on Pinterest. I’m not going to gut my way through the busyness only to wonder in January, “What the hell just happened?”

This year I’m committed to simplifying Christmas. Here’s how I plan to do it.

Give experiences, not things

In Simplicity Parenting, author Kim John Payne talks about the follies of too many toys. When kids’ rooms are overflowing with toys, they can’t even find their favorites. Furthermore, when their primary toys are closed-ended, meaning they can only really be used for one function, children typically bore of them quickly.

I’ve found this to be true in my own house. My son and I cleaned out his room last week, and over and over he exclaimed, “I’ve been wondering where this was!” He couldn’t see his favorite toys among all his many other toys.

Consider making the big ticket Christmas item an experience rather than yet another gadget with bells and whistles. A yearlong membership to the local children’s museum or tickets to a performance you know your child will love have the advantage of cutting down clutter while also providing your family the opportunity to make a new memory.

Pick the top activities and skip the rest

At Christmas, my first reaction is to do all the things. But inevitably trying to do it all means that we’re so busy, we hardly have any time to simply enjoy this time of year. Rather than trying to attend every parade, every performance of the Nutcracker, and every tree lighting, I’m picking our top two activities, and we’re skipping the rest. Festivities are to be enjoyed with family, not marked off the list.

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