Be sure to read until the end so you may read our blog update! Things are changing slightly!
A few weeks ago I posted how difficult Christmas has been for me. Struggling to find a way to celebrate the way I’ve always loved. How magical our childhood Christmases were, and how desperately I miss that feeling. Over the past few weeks I have been trying to come up with as many ideas as I can. How I can make Christmas wonderful for our children, but also put my heart and mind in the right spirit. The spirit to celebrate the Birth of The King.
My husband will be deploying after the holidays. It will be his 5th deployment. And when I received this news, a tiny little dark cloud began to form over all of my holiday plans. Worried that it would all pass too quickly and that reality would creep up faster than I would like. Any of us would like. Though, today I realized, if there is one thing I could do differently about the coming weeks – it’s slowing down.
In all of my brainstorming, I’ve come up with this “mission statement” for the next 36 days.
I’m going to slow Christmas down and relish in every single day of my favorite season. I’m going to make it as simple as possible. There will be no dark cloud permitted to grow into a full blow storm. Because this isn’t about me in the first place.
Do you want to join me? Here’s what my family will be doing to celebrate the Birth of The King.
- Our children are only recieving five gifts from us + a stocking “filled by Santa.” A few weeks ago we donated two totes, three boxes, and three large trash bags all full of toys. Toys that my children simply haven’t been playing with. Many of these gifts from last Christmas. Danielle has done the “few gifts Christmas” for each child for a few years. I took a nod from her, and I went after it. We are pro-Santa, but if you are not you can easily replace this gift with something else – or leave it out entirely. I should make note – usually these lists include “something to read.” My kiddos receive new Christmas books each year during our 12 Days of Christmas countdown. But they LOVE PlayDoh, painting, and getting their hands dirty with craft projects. Therefore I replaced the “read” option with creative.
- Because we have such a large extended family we have exchanged names for quite a few years. This year our mom & bonus dad have joined in on this. With our family growing each and every year with new babies or married ins, we simply have to find a better way. #bigbaptistfamilystruggles For our dad & bonus mom we usually go in on big gifts together instead of tons of small gifts from each individual family.
- For my husband’s side of the family, we are doing something a little different this year. Being a military family we usually are NEVER home for the holidays. This year we are making the choice to remain in our home and not travel. It is rare for my husband to be in country for Christmas and Thanksgiving. We don’t want to spend that time traveling all over, so we will be staying put. This can cause some frustration for extended family members, but our cardinal rule from the moment we said “I Do” has been our family first – everyone and everything else second It’s the singular way, behind Jesus, that we persevere in this lifestyle. With that said, my husband’s family will be presented with a dorky gift certificate I made letting them know of an upcoming week that he will be taking leave so we can travel to them. A week of time dedicated solely to them. Even if it falls flat – this is a BIG DEAL for a military family. So we are excited to see how they react!
- Finally, teacher gifts. My daughter is in preschool two days out of the week, and she truly loves her teachers! I plan on handmaking their gifts. Likely crochet scarves. But we will see what I come up with.
- TIPS: Homemade is not dead OR cheap. If you have skills like crochet, knitting, painting, etc. USE IT. Make it.
- 12 Days of Christmas: My list is finalized! If you join us – I want to see it! Make sure you upload it to Instagram or Facebook with #domesticfourchristmas! A few of what I have listed are local to us events, so check your city/town calendars and see if you can plug in anything on those dates.
A Few Notes: Remember how I said our kiddos get new Christmas books? These will be given to them on our Movie Nights.
-In regards to our “fancy dinner” on Christmas Eve. When we were kids my mom would break out her fancy dinnerware – champagne flutes included! – and we would have a candlelit dinner of Roast Beef, Mashed Potatoes, and Corn. Coming downstairs in our Christmas Eve best and sharing a big family dinner by light of the Christmas tree was next to perfect. This tradition is starting back up here in our home.
-Feel free to add “decorating the tree” to this! We put our tree up the day after Thanksgiving, so it is not included in ours.
-Finally – regarding giving tins – the kiddos and I will be loading these down with homemade treats and then leaving them at our neighbors’ doors.
- Jesse Tree Ornaments – while I wanted to make our ornaments this year, I simply don’t have the time. I’m finishing our Heirloom Stockings, working on a few activities for my husband’s squadron, and need to work on our teacher gifts! Enter: Etsy! There are so many adorable (already made) Jesse Tree Ornaments to be found. I’m so very much looking forward to starting this new tradition with our little family.
- This isn’t some extensive list is it? I wanted a simple Christmas filled with meaning, simplicity, hygge, and spirit. There are a few things I will be doing that I consider “vintage” Christmas – but none of them are extensive either. Example: We will be making homemade hard candy. Decorating the tree with colored lights. Having a lot of fires. Sipping a lot of hot cocoa and coffee. I’ll be taking most of our photos and videos on my actual camera and not my phone. Few will be gracing the filtered realm of Instagram. I want something tangible to recall these memories when life has seemed to rush by me.
Will you do me a big favor this year?
Unrush. Slow down. If you are blessed to live somewhere that snow frequents your Decembers, stop and stare at it for awhile. Put your boots and gloves on and play outside with your kids. Leave the phone inside; Instagram doesn’t matter. If you like colored lights, put them on the tree. If tinsel makes your soul scream with delight, ignore Pinterest. Don’t get trapped in a Christmas decor theme, unless that theme is your family. And there is no rustic ornament, buffalo checked pillow, or Hobby Lobby aisle that holds that magic. That mystery. That beauty.
It is in the flushed cheeks of your children after a cold day playing outside. It is in the quiet nights watching White Christmas, Little Women, and It’s a Wonderful Life under a blanket on your couch. It is looking outside your window and seeing snow softly falling in the street lights as you check on your kiddos one last time before bed. The beauty of this Season and life is found in the portion of the song where only the voices ring out as the candles fill the room.
“O ye beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow;
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing…”
Listen to those voices reach the heavens. Let the warm tears flow as you recall how God became Man – for you. Look around you and relish in all of the red and green and warm lights. When a world, whether it acknowledges it or not, turns an entire month into a celebration of our Savior. Years ago, on a silent night, God came down to Earth.
You, who toil along the climbing way. Your steps painful and slow, look now! He has come.
Rest, and hear the angels sing.
Happy Thanksgiving & Merry Christmas Season!
Over the coming weeks things will continue to be slow. We will post sporadically. But we are also brainstorming. In the New Year we will have a new blog layout, more specific direction, and a blog calendar to keep us consistent. We thank you for nearly four years of reading our blog and following along. We hope that when we relaunch you will here and just as happy!