Sometimes Christmas can come and go in a rushed blur of noise and flurry of activity. Here are three ways to help the time pass at an even pace, enjoy special time with family and friends and make Christmas more meaningful.
Enjoy our holiday e-book, The 12 Days of Christmas! 12 activities, 12 gifts and 12 acts of service to make your Christmas merry and bright. Download the PDF and read it on your device of choice. From all of us at Homestead Lady, Happy Holidays!
Family is About Time
Although we’re going to be talking about simplifying our holidays to appreciate them more fully, it’s good to remember that family does takes work. Here’s a little excerpt from our book, The Do It Yourself Homestead:
Don’t neglect creating righteous traditions in your family and on your homestead. They’re pleasant things to do and lovely ways to connect with your family, but they are also one of the tools your family has to prepare against hard times. When sorrows come, jobs are lost, disaster strikes or other maladies afflict your home, the rhythm of your traditions will provide a peaceful constant. I’ve had this lesson taught to me again and again.
Does it Have to be Christmas?
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or nothing at all this time of year, these ideas will still help you enjoy this holiday season a little more. Christmas goes on all around us every year – maybe it’s time we used that time well.
I’ve learned that busy isn’t always productive and decorated isn’t always lovely. Likewise, treasure isn’t always tangible and joy isn’t always happiness.
For some of us, this time of year is an emotional one- somehow bringing out sadness or loneliness, or even full-on depression. Others of us just struggle with schedules that are too busy or a gnawing feeling that Christmas will come and go and we won’t have “enjoyed” the season at all.
Regardless of what’s going on with you personally this year, or even come Easter, these simple tips will make Christmas more meaningful simply because they make every day more meaningful.
Make Christmas More Meaningful With a Good Book
This step is of special importance to those who constantly feel rushed during the holiday season. Those who run and run, and rarely seem to breathe it all in and enjoy it. It’s in my nature to burn the candle and both ends, so I sympathize with you.
We have a family goal to read three to four evenings every week. I’m always amazed at how hard that is to accomplish every, single week! No matter how I plan my day, accomplish my goals, encourage my children or try to carve out time, I have to fight for that precious hour to simply sit and read out loud to my children.
And it’s a battle completely worth waging.
Reading Together Slows the Pace
One of the first steps to making Christmas more meaningful is slowing down our pace. You can’t appreciate the view when racing down the road at 70 miles per hour. To enjoy the scenery, you need to get stuck following a tractor on a country road. Most of us would never choose to be stuck behind a tractor, but upon having it happen, we can look around and notice the frost on the pines, the deer with her fawn and the crisp smell of wood smoke in the air.
Making time to read with your family this holiday season is like “getting stuck behind the tractor.” You may not find it easy to carve out thirty to sixty minutes a few nights a week this Christmas. You may have to persuade the teenager and even bride the toddler to join you in the family room. Even your spouse might need some gentle encouragement – does the threat of a pillow to the head count as gentle? I used the goose down pillow.
How to Make it Happen
Pick a day, pick a time and make a general announcement at the beginning of the week that this is the time sacred and set aside for family reading. Some of your family members may not choose to willing come, but providing this experience will give you much needed down time together. Christmas is about celebrating the gift of light and life – with whom do you hope to enjoy these gifts if not your family? And even your friends? (Not all “families” share DNA, FYI.)
Light a fire or toss out some blankets; bake some cookies or throw out some pretzels. Make a joyful but firm announcement that it’s family reading time after dinner (or whenever). If the reading gets interrupted with conversation, relish it. When you finish only one of the selections piled on your coffee table, be grateful that at least that one enriched you. As people complain or fall asleep, embrace the challenge. Some traditions take patient persistence.
Family life is hard. You can do hard things. Oorah for reading time.
For a complete list of my favorite Christmas titles (and super fun crafts and recipes), I invite you to download our completely free e-book, The Twelve Days of Christmas. This is our little gift to you this holiday season.
Make Christmas More Meaningful with Handmade
Stay with me here. This step applies to even the non-crafty among us. The non-crafty tribe is the one to which I belong. I just don’t have the attention span or talent for cute, handmade gifts. I guess I’m just way too utilitarian and, really, not that much fun.
This step is for everyone, but it’s especially important for those of us who easily loose sight of the reason for the season.
Regardless, I try to make at least a few gifts by hand each year. I’m not sure I can explain exactly what this process does for me, but it goes something like this…
Using Your Hands Gives you Perspective
I try to help my kids hand-make a few of their gifts every year. When they were all of them especially young, I can’t say with honesty that this simplified my holiday season. In fact, it was exhausting. Well, if we’re being honest again, it still is. But it’s that good kind of tired – the one you get after exercising really hard. There’s a true feeling of accomplishment that both my children and I enjoy. Somehow this handmade process makes our gifting more about the person than the present.
Sure, it’s faster and easier to just run to the store and pick up a gift off of a list. But are fast and easy really the point of Christmas? If we’re trying to make Christmas more meaningful, doesn’t that deserve our attention for long enough to think of the people we love?
Christ gave His gifts selflessly, and I can’t think of a time ever noted in scripture when He was in a rush. Every person, each moment seemed to be important to Him. If it’s His birthday I’m commemorating, or even simply celebrating light in the darkness of this winter season, it seems like I should be true to those ideals. Maybe making Christmas more meaningful is really just about keeping a true perspective on why we bother to celebrate it at all.
Handmade doesn’t have to be hard; if it did, I just wouldn’t do it. Here are some easy peasy gifts you can make – with your kids and even last minute.
Would you prefer to make some yummy food gifts? Try this post from Grow a Good Life on 20 Homemade Food Gifts.
Here’s a green gift upcycle from glass jars via Attainable Sustainable.
Make Christmas More Meaningful with Service
This one is for those of who especially struggle with feelings of sadness and loneliness this time of year. Sometimes we feel the loss of a loved one, or simply feel isolated from those we love. Even when we’re in the same room. Other hours we feel our failings and the long, dark days of winter seems to smother us. These feelings come and go for all of us, but if you’re particularly struggling this season, just give this idea a try.
Service is a Balm
There’s an almost magical quality to the blessings we receive when we reach out to serve in our communities and congregations. We grow to love the people we serve, even if they start out as complete strangers. Through our small contributions we’re able to observe that no matter how bad our current situation is, there’s always someone who is struggling more. This gives us a fresh look at our own troubles. Not that is solves our issues, but service to others can lighten our personal load. Even if it’s only for a few moments while we serve.
I feel it’s especially important to include our children in our community-building experiences. In the bonus section of our downloadable book Five Kernels of Corn, you will find several suggestions for involving your children in community service. These projects range from simple to time-consuming, basic to crafty. They are all suitable for multiple ages of children. We’ve tested them all in our family and have enjoyed each.
What About You?
How do you make your holidays more meaningful? Please feel free to share any ideas you have below – we’d love to feature some in our Homestead Happenings newsletter!
Whichever improvements you decide upon, however you choose to make Christmas more meaningful, we wish you success! Happy Christmas from our family to yours!
Cover graphic gratefully attributed to Graphics Fairy.