Thursday, December 3, 2009

Simple Holiday

Well, it’s that time of year again. The hustle and bustle of the holidays tends to overshadow what the holidays are actually about = peace and giving. We are bombarded with a media blitz on the perfect table, perfect meal, perfect gift, perfect families who have perfect personalities…..But when asked “What is your favorite memory or tradition of the holidays?” it’s never any of those media “perfect” things. You hear a lot of “baking cookies with my mom”, “stringing popcorn on the tree”, “going to midnight service on Christmas Eve”, “the smell of the tree nursery”, “serving dinner for the homeless”, “playing cards until past midnight with my uncles”, “my grandma’s spiced apples and cider”.

We all say the holidays aren’t about money, but let’s not fool ourselves. Buying becomes a duty, rather than an inspiration of love. Spending money or lack of money is always on the brain. Kids may understand that the gift they want is out of the budget, but that doesn’t hide their disappointment. If there are divorced parents, many times the holidays are a competition for time and presents.

Collectively we can call a stop to the madness! We’ve just now skipped into December and you can start new traditions now. Think about your most wonderful memories. Now, think about the things that will need to change so you can incorporate the traditions you really love. Something has to be let go! Probably many things need to be let go if we’re being honest with ourselves. And nothing has to be in stone – you can try something else next year. Call a Cease Fire. Do some yoga and simplify.

Here are a few things we do with our family:
*Our kids get 3 gifts and a stocking. One from Santa (unwrapped), one from Mom and Dad, and one from siblings.
*We try to watch the 25 days of Christmas on ABC or supplement with our own videos.
*We cut out, bake, and decorate cookies with real pastry bags of frosting. Yes, it’s a mess, but the rule is you get to eat the broken cookies and every year there are pictures of dark colored tongues.
*Cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, which is spent alone at our house if at all possible, in PJ’s all day.
*We “adopt” foster children and load them up with the winter essentials and small toys.
*Check out holiday books from the library (okay, and buy from B&N, I’m a sucker for books). The Polar Express is still the favorite.
* I always loved spending the night with cousins after Christmas, playing with everyone’s new toys, and now my children are doing it. I love to watch them get excited about being with their cousins.
*Eating Kringles, Leftsa, German Almond cookies, Chow Mein cookies, and almond dipped pretzels.
*Going to see the Trans Syberian Orchestra.
*My mother-in-law’s side of the family do Christmas in the summer or fall. Everyone can fly/drive in nice weather and less risk of illness thwarting the fun.

Let me know what traditions you love, what you are proudly ditching, and maybe what things you want to start this year. We can all come together, share ideas, and make the holidays about peace and giving to ourselves as well as others.

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