The other morning one of my little grandsons presented me with his Christmas list along with a toy catalog that he had used to circle everything he wanted for Christmas.
He was super cute.
Of course, I immediately went into grandma mode and wanted to buy him EVERYTHING!
It took a few seconds—okay, maybe more than a few—but I did talk myself off the mountain.
I have something I’ve made for him for Christmas, and I’m choosing NOT to spend money on more gifts.
Christmas shouldn’t be about the gifts. (Especially if, like me, you have 11 grandchildren!)
Christmas is about relationships…
…with each other and with God.
It’s about things money CAN’T buy, like love, compassion, traditions, making memories together and, most of all, the celebration of God becoming a man.
It’s about laughter, deep conversations, shared experiences, and the atmosphere of peace and joy set against a world full of discouraging news.
Therefore, many families are cutting waaaay back on Christmas spending.
Instead, they are investing time in creating an atmosphere and a shared experience of a simple Christmas with their family and friends.
Emphasis is placed on enjoying special meals, decorating or caroling parties, cooking or crafting, and cozy evenings reading or watching Christmas movies.
Some volunteer at soup kitchens, decorate an elderly neighbor’s home or spend time at an eldercare facility with the patients who don’t have family to visit them.
Do they still give gifts? Many don’t. Some do. Usually, a gift is something homemade or used, like a favorite piece of family china or a book. Or they give to a favorite charity.
The emphasis is on celebrating Jesus, simplicity, time together, honoring one another, joy, peace, and slowing down from the crazy commercialism that usually goes with the holiday season.
Invest in a simple Christmas experience
Most memories your kids and grandkids have of Christmas aren’t of gifts,,,
…but of feeling safe and loved along with the wonder, laughter, food, and special moments that make up the atmosphere of Christmas.
So how do you stop the spending and create an experience of Christmas apart from commercialism?
Each of the following ideas can be embraced by your family or, if you live alone, by yourself… with a little adjusting.
Choose a few and do them well. (Beats trying to do a lot and NOT doing any of it well.)
- Weave the Christmas story into the holidays.
Create a Jessie Tree with your grandchildren.
Is there a reenactment of the Christmas story at your church or another public event? GO!
- Icelanders have a tradition of giving a book to one another on Christmas Eve and then spending the night reading.
If you want to save money, give your favorite books off of your bookshelf or from a used bookstore.
Because you aren’t cheap doing this. You’re setting an example that gifts come from your heart, not your wallet.
- Every culture has its favorite Christmas foods. How can you swirl the flavors of Christmas into your holidays?
Maybe a neighborhood potluck of favorite cultural dishes?
- If you do want to spend money, pay for an experience that you can use together during the coming year: a yearly zoo pass, a camping trip, a ticket to a movie, or a year’s pass for a favorite sporting event.
- What kind of music do you enjoy at Christmas? Old favorites or new releases?
Try appreciating the special sounds of Christmas by attending a live music event AND weave Christmas music throughout your day via your favorite music app.
Still with me?
- Instead of store-bought gifts, give something you’ve created OR an activity you can enjoy together.
Maybe it’s time to give away some of your favorite treasures, so the kids don’t fight over them after you’re gone.
- I like to diffuse essential oils during the holidays to set an atmosphere of calmness and peace. Even hospitals have started using essential oils to reduce stress in doctors and patients.
Here’s one of my favorite recipes for a calming holiday blend of essential oils to diffuse.
- Some years ago, our family switched exchanging gifts to a fun “pirate exchange” on Christmas afternoon. (With a price limit to limit spending.)
- Relax! If your “doing” gets in the way of your “being” with Jesus, it’s not worth it. Most importantly, your family needs you to be Jesus with skin on… to radiate His love, joy, peace, and acceptance.
Because at the end of the day…
…you want your kids and grandkids to remember you and Jesus. There is nothing on the market that can stand in for either of these… they have to be experienced.
Therefore, which suggestion are you going to incorporate into your holidays to push back on commercialism and embrace the experience of a simple Christmas?
(And if you still need to make space for Jesus and less space for the push and pull of a hectic holiday, here is my 2017 Christmas Manifesto. It’s still true today.)