Throughout much of my life as a mom I have been a Christmas nut. Decorations everywhere, gifts galore under the tree. Stockings stuffed, toys EVERYWHERE. Months obsessing over was there enough? and I loved it, don't get me wrong. I loved every second of it. Christmases when I was young were nice, but they were always stressful. My mom just doesn't enjoy it. She did it because of us kids, but her heart was not always quite in it. I swore my kids would have Christmases of their dreams.
Then one day a couple years ago, I was cleaning the playroom. I realized my Christmasness had to be curbed. My kids had too much. I had too much. I didn't need another Santa figure, or singing stocking. I didn't need 4 Christmas trees in my home, and my kids sure as heck did not need toys that would still be unopened in May.
The first year was hard, but I did ok. Everyone had gifts under the tree, but I knew I could have done better. The next year I restarined from buying any more decorations, and we took a vacation in January. The youngest still believes in Santa so there were gifts under the tree, but not so many. Last year I did great! of course money was tight so I can't really take all the credit. But that was nice, the gifts were well thought out and nothing was left unopened in the corner of the playroom. I also started something last year, the kids have to clean and purge before Christmas. Video games and toys that they have outgrown or don't like get donated.
This year I have found my stride. We are headed to Orlando for the week before Christmas. The only one with more than a couple gifts will be the youngest. He still believes, or he is smart enough not to tell me he doesn't. But even he is getting less. I put very simple, but nice lights outside, cut way back on decorations in the house. This year my siblings and I all decided not to exchange and I told my friends let's not exchange. And you know what? Not only did everyone agree, it's GREAT! I love it, in fact when I walk through Wal Mart and see the crap lining the aisles they are trying to pawn off as great gift ideas, I scoff. There were days I would have snatched those things up..."Just one more small thing"..this year I am smiling thinking of how nice it is to be stress free, and counting down the days till i feel the warm Florida sun on my face.
Christmas can be anything YOU want it to be, I see that now. It doesn't feel empty or fake without gifts and crap everywhere. For us it's spending time relaxing and enjoying all the fruits of the months of hard work, together, as a family.