Christmas 2010 was one of the most balanced Christmases I have ever experienced. To be honest, the peace of it all caught me by surprise. I expected hustle and bustle and holiday stress, but this year panned out a lot differently. I'm devoting my first few posts back to a series I'm calling "What I Learned This Christmas."
First of all, let's talk about traditions. There are a lot of traditions my family has followed and I have carried on to my family. For example:
1. Collecting ornaments wherever we travel so that decorating the Christmas tree results in a trip down memory lane. (Be sure to label your ornaments--when you got them and anything special that's connected with that trip; otherwise you will forget--I'm not even that old!)
2. Cutting down our own Christmas tree. As a child, my family would team up with two other large families, pile into an assortment of vans and minivans, and head to Eby Pines to cut down our Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. Once the trees were all piled in a trailer, the kids would perch on the sides and belt Christmas songs while we drove to the front to pay. Good times.
Here in Tulsa, there's only one Christmas tree farm I know of that's relatively close. This is great for Owasso Tree Farm's business, but not so great for selection this year. There were so few trees to choose from, we opted for a pre-cut tree.
Big mistake. The tree was dead and withered within two weeks. How did this take away from the stress of the holidays? Well, I was so ready to get rid of the tree that I felt no guilt when I pulled it down on December 26th. I feel refreshed when I move large objects out of my home and reorganize. Am I alone?
New Traditions that didn't add a lot of stress but did add fun:
1. Decorating Christmas cookies with the kids at my mom's house. My mom did a fabulous job of preparing for this event (anything involving two toddlers is an event). She had three simple recipes picked out ahead of time. She had all the ingredients out (and measured if necessary). And she picked recipes that were relatively safe to eat if not cooked (my daughter LOVES to eat as she cooks. Sticks of butter are her favorite--where did I go wrong?) Baking cookies at someone else's house meant I didn't have dozens of yummy treats setting around my home tempting me to have "just one more." I know I spared myself a couple extra pounds because of this. Plus, the kids had a blast.
2. Baking cinnamon rolls from scratch for Christmas morning. I did NOT save myself any poundage with this recipe (or the piles of leftovers taunting me from my fridge). BUT these were a smash. AND I gave away a few trays of rolls as Christmas presents and scored major love and requests for upcoming holidays. We usually make pancakes Christmas morning, which I love; but we make pancakes on a pretty regular basis, so this was a new special treat. Did I mention it provided extra Christmas presents?
3. Simplifying my Christmas lists. I decided to follow Design Mom's guide for buying presents for our kids: something to wear, something to read, and something to play with. I really think this is going to help us avoid a lot of conflict or "that's it?"-attitudes later. Plus, it makes my gift-buying much more focused. And, I loved picking out a book for each girl (something I'm ashamed to admit I don't often do--we get most of our reading from the library).
Overall, I found the less commitments I made, the less stress the holidays brought. It's a nice change to have two little ones as an excuse to not attend/be invited to a lot of holiday functions. Family time is the best. Plus, since my hubby works two jobs, and his hours go through the roof in December, we cherish any time we can spend with him after a long December of only seeing his sleeping face.