Christmas is a season that should be enjoyed, happy memories made, and mums should not be locked in the kitchen preparing the meal while everyone else is having fun. Sadly, the Christmas period can be a stressful time in the year for many mums and it really shouldn’t be. My favourite mantra is ‘Keep It Simple’, because its important to get back to what Christmas is all about. Its about connecting with the people in our lives that are special to us.
To ‘keep life as simple’ as possible, you must get yourself and your family organised. Everyone (including extended family) needs to be on the same page. The goal to Christmas is that we want everyone in our families to feel loved and cared for, and everyone plays a part in achieving this goal. I thought I would share how we keep the joy in Christmas.
1. Relationships with and Invitations to our family members.
In our family, we alternate Christmas day between my side of the family and hubby’s side of the family. My brothers and their wives have made sure they are on the same Christmas pattern as us so that we all have our family Christmas together. This is great for all the kids too as its important to all of us that our kids have as many catchups during the year so that we can help them form happy long term friendships.
Its funny how as you get older, you look at other peoples decisions differently. It seems that ‘with age comes wisdom’. If its our turn to host Christmas day at our place, we extend the invitation to all, but if certain members of the family want to do their own thing then I don’t worry about those sorts of details any more. Once upon a time I would consider their decision to do something else an insult, but these days I really don’t sweat the small stuff.
2. Presents are fun, but trying to do it all can be stressful.
We get together with my extended side of the family a week or two before Christmas each year at my Aunt’s place. We all bring a part of the meal and a gift for our Secret Santa recipients. Each adult is allocated somebody to buy for in the family, and you can’t spend more than $25. The kids aren’t included in the Secret Santa fun though – they get their own gifts (but only from those family members we won’t be seeing on Christmas day or boxing day).
Hubby’s side of the family is small so we all buy individual gifts for them, but when we catch up with my mum and brothers families, we do presents for the kids but not the adults because we have already done the adults presents at my Aunts place.
3. The food.
I think we can all agree that the food, and sitting down together with family and friends is an essential part to our Christmas experience. The ‘Keep it Simple’ rule must be applied to the food. Christmas time is expensive for everyone, and unless you LOVE to cook and don’t mind taking on every aspect of the meal, its important to delegate to your guests the parts of the meal that you would like them to bring (for eg. Salads, drinks or desserts). When everyone contributes to the overall experience of the day, the host (usually mum) doesn’t feel overwhelmed by the amount of work that the Christmas experience can bring.
Don’t forget to include your kids in the cooking and organising part of the Christmas experience. Its obviously a lot easier to get the cooking done when everyone is out of the kitchen, but I find it quite lonely. I love the chatting, laughter and antics that can come out of the kitchen, AND don’t forget the kids are learning and observing while all this is happening. Your teaching them another lifeskill. The more you get your kids involved, the more they learn and the more confidence your instilling in them. Don’t forget your kids can set the table, give them a chance to show you what they can do. Recently I gave Bethy the job of setting our table for dinner and she really blew that task out of the water. I was really surprised that she knew how to do it.
4. The Christmas Experience
The meaning of Christmas is different for many people. Whether its spiritual, religious or family orientated, the weeks leading up to Christmas is where the Christmas spirit is caught. One of our special family rituals each year is to take the kids into Brisbane City to see the city lights and also take them up to the Myer Centre Christmas Spectacular.
We love to take a City Cat up the Brisbane River to the Eagle Street Pier, and then walk up to the Queen Street Mall. Each year, we take the kids into the Myer Centre to go on the ‘Santa Train’. Sadly, the girls are too tall for it now, and this will probably be Jaden’s last year to ride the train, but we really love the Christmas lights in the city, so even if we are all too tall for the Santa Train, we will probably continue to come into Brisbane city to experience the lights and the King George Christmas tree. We may also wander over to Southbank and see if there is anything Christmassy over there. There are so many beautiful places to see in the Brisbane CBD….I must say that it is for these reasons and not being nearby to my brothers that I miss living in Brisbane.
Heading to the Christmas Carols are also another great way to start feeling Christmassy. Many churches around your area, and most councils are organising Christmas events for locals.
There are so many ways to celebrate Christmas, but the most important thing is to aim for simplicity. Christmas doesn’t have to be a stressful time, do what you can afford, be smart with what you have, time manage to the best of your ability, learn from your mistakes and don’t sweat the small stuff. Keep in mind that your goal is peace, comfort and joy and do all things in honour of these characteristics, and don’t forget to have a wonderful Christmas and enjoy the people in your lives.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 🙂