What Brings the Most Joy for You When Reflecting on Christmases in the Past?

I love Christmas! I love the music, candles, sights and sounds. I love how everything lights up the world around me. I love how people seem more joyous.

The part that for many years seemed to cast a shadow over this wonderful time of celebration, was the fact that I had a nagging sense of obligation for what I “should” be doing or buying or being during this time. I longed to just love Christmas as I did when I was a child. I never worried if I bought all the right gifts or what foods to prepare or take to which events and parties. I wasn’t concerned that I would offend folks if I said “Merry Christmas” or if I mentioned a Christmas tree or whatever.

It seemed that for a number of years, I couldn’t truly relax and enjoy the season for fear of missing or overlooking something or someone or not being “relationally or culturally correct” in my greeting.

That all changed a few years back, when I decided that if what I loved about Christmas was so apparent to me as a child — I needed to revisit the sounds and sights of the season through childlike wonder. I began a journey to educate myself and those who may benefit on the reason for keeping a simple Christmas mindset.

I decided not to overcommit to what I would attend or to what I felt I needed to host. I tried to consider that if I was concerned about feelings of obligation around Christmas gift giving, maybe others felt the same. I decided if it was to be – it was up to me. So, I started communicating about the dissatisfaction I felt around feeling robbed of the true beauty and meaning of Christmas.

I began to do a lot less in the way of buying Christmas gifts and more considering gifts of service or things I could make. When I do shop, I try to buy from companies that promote items that benefit companies here in America or artisans within the context of fair trade that actually benefit villages globally to help them with education, healthcare and other needs and NOT countries that have forced child labor. I began to feel that Christmas giving had a sense of purpose and meaning that aligned well with the values I hold dear.

I asked for things that helped others give of themselves and not empty their wallets. I asked for things like a commitment to pray for me each month on the day of my birthdate (the 26th). I asked folks to give to someone in need (even themselves) as a gift in my honor. I offered to babysit or give a haircut or run an errand, not just at Christmas, but anytime during the year that I could be a blessing.

I want to be unique in the way I reach out where I live, work and play. What I have experienced in the way of friendships has been more valuable than anything I could have received in the way of material possessions. I feel good when I give or receive out of a sense of value and purpose.

I like to think that like the little drummer boy, the choices I’ve made for a simple Christmas have made and are making a lasting impact on my little corner of the world. They can in your little corner too.  

Consider ways that you can reduce the stress and enjoy the season. Think of ways you can give all year round without busting the budget. You will be amazed at the ideas that you may come up with – and that others may be more than willing to get on board.

So, this season, rejoice in the CHRIST of Christmas and the gift that continues to give — a peace that passes all understanding. And you might find that “everyday can be just like Christmas!” When we are in the Christmas season, we enjoy telling stories and sharing memories about Christmases in the past. We remember the excitement we had as children. And, the excitement of when our children began to experience the wonder of Christmas.

I have joyful memories of making baskets for family and friends with pumpkin bread, brownies, and a variety of cookies with my daughters when they were young. My girls had special recipes like Tea Cookies and No Bake Cookies and Rice Crispy treats they loved making over and over.

I remember making fruit cake cookies with my Grandma. I liked getting to eat pecans that I didn’t have to shell. I remember how wonderful it smelled in our house. Over the years, and with my mom’s never-ending zeal to learn new recipes, I learned how to make our own eggnog and many holiday items that have become my now “grown-up” traditions.

Totally different from my childhood tradition, while living in Atlanta, we often made cabbage rolls and au gratin potatoes for New Year’s Day. We’d invite folks over and they often contributed by bringing appetizers or yummy desserts. Jeff and I enjoyed doing this together, and looked forward to it as much as Christmas. Even writing this, I think this may be the season to get back to this, because it brought such joy and a great kick off for a brand new year!

Here are fun ideas for bringing about simplicity to our Christmas season:

1. Making gifts together is a wonderful way for family and friend bonding!
2. Baking gifts are a fun activity to do together. We can give cookies, cupcakes, brownies as gifts to family, it may make them fatter, but not clutter their homes with needless possessions.
3. Volunteering is a neat thing to do as a family or a group of friends. It may be to serve at a shelter or at your church helping out with the nursery for the many happenings that are going on and to help the many new folks who visit during the Christmas season.
4. Christmas songs. My girls and I have always had fun singing Christmas songs while in the car. If you are really into this, many assisted living and nursing homes could benefit from your group showing up to shed some holiday cheer.
5. Playing games. We love, love, love board games and other such games. We find that we can really connect when bringing out the games. Sometimes the competition can get a little intense though!
6. Make ornaments or decorations. Another fun thing to to shop thrift stores. You can find some very inexpensive little treasures for decoration.

Sure, buying gifts is a holiday tradition, but we can change up our traditions to align with the age and stage of life we are in now. Creating a new tradition or enhancing an old one is just another way of bridging the present to the past and making more warm and cozy memories to reflect back on in the future.

Whatever your tradition, allow the holidays to renew and refresh you. And get ready for an awesome new year!

Remember the reason for our Christmas joy is found most assuredly in the beauty of the babe in the manger, God’s redemption story for us through the birth of  His Son Jesus. 

Merry CHRISTmas!

Until next time…..

-Sheri xo

Sheri Geyer is a Boundaries Coach for Women

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