Christmas is coming! Christmas is coming! Now, picture Paul Revere riding through town after town screaming this and you’ll get my point. As many of you know, Christmas is just around the corner and in the blink of an eye it will be here and gone. I wanted to share some important tips with you as you prepare for this holiday season and how the Linkous’ do Christmas.
Remember what Christmas is all about, first and foremost. It’s about giving, not receiving. It’s about the birth of Christ, not the toys under the tree. It’s about family, not shopping. Now saying all this is NOT saying that receiving gifts, Santa Clause, or shopping are bad things. It’s just saying to keep it in moderation. Know the line and don’t cross it despite what the norm is and what everyone else is doing.
Keep track of what you’re doing for the holidays and don’t get overwhelmed. At Christmas, we try to make sure we don’t get overrun with twenty thousand Christmas parties and traditions. It’s easy to do if you’re not careful. For us, we make an advent calendar that spreads out what we do rather than putting it all in the same week. For example, this week we’ve done some simple things like putting out our Charlie Brown Christmas tree and hanging a ribbon for our Christmas cards and we’ll also do some more detailed things like shopping for our Christmas child. Don’t try to do all the big (and pricey) things in one week’s time. Spread it out by using an advent calendar.
Spend wisely. There are a lot of gifts out there to buy and a marketing team somewhere that is doing their best to sell you everything in sight. Keep in mind what you need, who you need to buy for, and what you’ve budgeted for this year. Just because Grandma Sue loves sweaters doesn’t mean you need to get her 20, even if they’re only $5 each. That adds up to $100 when you budgeted $30. Even a good deal can sell you down the road. We try to shop year round rather than once a year. This year has been a little more difficult for us but we’ve managed to do pretty well. We’re also doing a homemade Christmas this year and everyone is getting at least one homemade gift. It may not cost as much, but a lot of effort is put into these gifts which makes them extra special. Emma has helped make a few, too!
Watch your eating. It’s ok to eat and enjoy but don’t eat so much that your buttons pop and you have to be rolled everywhere you go. Stacy from Stacy Makes Cents recommended the other day drinking a big glass of water before going somewhere you know will have a lot of food. I love that advice. I do this and then drink a lot of water when I get there, too. Water fills you up quickly and will keep you from eating four plates full of dinner and three desserts to top it off. Food is good but in moderation. Too much and you’ll definitely be putting on the Christmas five (or ten or twenty).
Enjoy family. Spending time with family is the best gift of all. We love the holidays and taking time off to breathe with family nearby. We are hard workers and busy bees so the extra time off at Christmas with Emma is much needed and appreciated. We try to value it and make the most of it. We work daily during this time on removing ourselves from the world of work, emails, facebook, and more and try to spend time with one another. For some reason this is never easy to do but always a great thing to do and well worth it. The week after Christmas is devoted to family time and nothing less.
Set traditions. As with any advent calendar, you will put things there that you will never want to do again. Ever. There may be disasters too horrific to tell so don’t remember those. Trash them and don’t do them again, however, there will be winners that you find with your advent that you want to do again and again. There are certain parts of our advent that we keep as traditions every year and will continue to do as Emma grows. Here are a few of our favorites:
*Putting up our Christmas tree (whether real or fake)
*Letting Emma pick a new ornament for the tree
*Putting together a food box for the food pantry at church
*Baking cookies for the neighbors
*Reading the story of Jesus’ birth
Along with these come other traditions that we want to keep that aren’t on the advent calendar. We always go the movies on Christmas day. We prepare for and welcome Santa at our home. The main one is making Christmas about JESUS. We want Emma to enjoy all the parts of Christmas but enjoy the part about the birth of her Savior the most. It’s the foundation for all that we do and the most important part of Christmas.
These are a few things that we try to remember at Christmas time. What do you try to remember about Christmas and keep a priority?