Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Striving for a Simple Christmas

I have been mulling over in my mind how to write this post.  I’m not sure if I have found the best way to communicate what I have been thinking about.  But I am going to try.

My focus this Christmas season has been on trying to do things simply.  Elaine is at the age where she is more aware of things, and I want to sort of solidify Christmas traditions now.  There is so much that I love about Christmas, and so many things that I have just “always done”.  I am still trying to sort through what is good and what is best.  Ben is rather neutral on the subject.  Here is why…

Ben’s family did not celebrate Christmas for many of his growing up years.  My family (and my extended family) definitely made a big deal about Christmas.  So when Ben and I were dating we talked about this topic.  What would we do as a family?  We wanted to find something in the middle, but at the same time create our own traditions and ways of celebrating the holiday.

It is so easy to get caught up in the world’s way of having a merry holiday.  I think they include the birth of Christ only to sell more “stuff” to Christians!  With the commercials, coupons and deals, hustle & bustle, borage of holiday parties and activities….how can anyone stay focused on what is really important at Christmas?

I have come to really dislike the gift giving part of celebrating Christmas because it is so materialistic.  But I do like planning gifts to give to others.  In the last couple of years I have discovered that it is truly more fun to give to others, to get creative, and to find or make the perfect gift (while not breaking the bank).

So here are some things that we are doing this holiday season… For fun.  For pleasure.  Because they are pretty.  And just to keep things simple.

Canning Jar Candles
Mason jars, epsom salt for snow, and votives.
Simple Christmas

Simple Christmas
{inspiration credit: here and here}
They are so pretty as the wax melts and makes the “snow” colored and glowing!

Button Wreath Ornaments
Gifts from Elaine for several special people.
Elaine making button wreath ornaments  Simple Christmas
{inspiration credit}
She needed to make three.  She gave up after one.  But she had fun!

Homemade Gift Tags
Super easy with my Cricut.  Elaine even made her own!
Simple Christmas

Homemade Ornaments
spray painted juice lids and spaghetti sauce lids, then decorated with my card-making suppliesSimple Christmas

Simple Christmas
Giving some to some newlyweds so they have some Christmas tree decorations for their first Christmas! Simple, but fun.  And hopefully they will know that I created these especially with them in mind…

Handprint & Footprint Ornaments
I started this “tradition” for Elaine’s 1st Christmas, so we did it this year for Nolan too.  I took some footprints & handprints and made ornaments and decorative tiles out of them.
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Funny story…I inked Nolan’s hand & foot while he was sleeping.  We ended up with ink on the sheet, bib, and my clothes.  Then Elaine found the inkpad and smeared it on her face.  It didn’t wash off right away, so she looked bruised all around her mouth for a couple of days!

Real Evergreen Wreath
I have always wanted a real Christmas wreath…ever since Mrs. Pease sent her daughters each a wreath from Maine to hang on their dorm room door at college.  This year I chose a wreath for my door instead of a Christmas tree. 
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Names of Jesus Advent Chain
We printed out the names of Jesus and made a paper chain.  There is a free printable available from this website.  Each night until Christmas you pull off a link of the chain.  Elaine is still rather young to do a “study” but we are reading the names and Scriptures.

My intention is to make some cookies and goodies to give to my two unsaved neighbors that live next door to us, as well as the staff at our favorite corner grocer, and the staff at the shipping center that I utilize for my business.  We’ll see if these intentions come to fruition!

Recently I read about a family who gives each child three gifts for Christmas: one needed item like PJs/clothes, one wanted item/toy, and something for their savings account.  We had already decided to do that for our kids this year.  (Except their bank account money came from Great-Grandma Hamilton).  I don’t want them to grow up thinking Christmas is about getting things, or making out a list of things they want, etc.  We want to put the focus on giving to others and finding delight in being used by God to be a blessing to other people.  There are some specific ways we have chosen to do that this year, but I have chosen not to elaborate.

So whatever you choose to do or not do for Christmas…however you choose to celebrate or not celebrate…whatever you do “big” or just keep it simple…I hope that you find a way to keep the focus where it belongs.  Everything that we do, whether at Christmas time or throughout the year, is supposed to be for the glory of God. 

1 comment:

  1. I love this post, Andrea. We've already decided to do something like you're doing for gifts when we have kids. I recently heard of this concept: one they want, one they need, one to wear, one to read. (I also heard "one to share" instead of "one to read")

    A simpler Christmas definitely reminds us what Christmas is really all about. And I love the homemade ornament ideas! Thanks :)

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