That's because this year is going to be a little different.
We have always been careful to emphasize with our children what the true meaning of Christmas is: Christ's birth and His love for us. We do put up a Christmas tree, we do give gifts, we bake a dizzying amount of goodies, we sing carols. BUT, at the core of it all, we have been teaching the children what the reason behind it all really is.
It isn't the children that are the problem. :) For me anyway, it is so easy as an adult to get swept up into worrying about all the small things: such as if I have spent the same amount of money for each gift, if I remembered to give to everyone that gave us gifts the previous year...if I should make goodie bags for all the neighbors on both sides of our entire street since I gave a few bags out to our direct neighbors.. . I am often left feeling as though I have never done enough. Where does it ever end?!?
It goes beyond the mere gifts, though. Holidays seem to have a way of bringing out family drama. It is so difficult to celebrate and experience the joy when one feels pulled in a million different directions and spends the whole holiday running from here to there in an attempt to keep everyone happy. What I personally have realized is: I can't. No matter how hard I try! I, for one, am tired of guilt-filled Decembers.
Everywhere we look, we are bombarded with elaborate decorations, fancy foods, glossy catalogs and colorful newspaper ads promising great deals so we can afford to buy even more stuff than we normally would. There is always that long list of holiday parties, traditions, events, plays-- you name it--all of which we are "supposed" to be a part of.
And then Christmas rolls around before we know it, and many of us are totally exhausted, broke, joyless. That is not how it is supposed to be! It's fine to give gifts, enjoy a good meal with our families, do some activites, but the key is finding a healthy balance, to examine motivations for why we are doing things. Is it out of enrichment for the family and bringing joy to others,...or is it because we feel it is what is expected of us, and we wouldn't ever,ever want to disappoint?
(I was inspired by the posts that my friend, Michelle, has written on her blog: The Adventures of Mommy Missionary . She has written about the subject of simplifying Christmas and "spending less, giving more." Lots of good ideas--check it out!)
So, this year we are scaling back, carefully choosing a few activites to do (out of the many) that are important to our family, giving gifts to our immediate family and friends without worrying about keeping cost exactly even, doing alot of baking, crafts, rocking out to Christmas music, thinking of ways to play "Secret Santa" to those around us... and just generally slowing down and keeping things light, fun, and peaceful!
Every time I see these little faces, it sure brings things into perspective. Next to eternal salvation and my husband, they are the best gifts I could ever have under the tree on Christmas morning!