Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Keeping it simple.

Those paper trees are featured today at Martha Stewart's website. There are so many great ideas and recipes for the whole year, but especially so this time of year. I always see something to love when I stop by there. I don't always have time, money or energy to recreate what I see, but it's still fun for inspiration and it helps get my ideas flowing.
To be honest (here I go again...keeping it real), I really want to just have a simple Christmas this year. My kids don't need a single new toy and in fact, they need to spend a couple of hours sorting and organizing the ones they already have. I am even a bit frustrated because there just isn't a nice space to put up our big tree and yet I feel like it's part of our tradition. Please tell me I'm not the only person who has a hard time trying to figure what's best at Christmas for your kids, your family and yourself. I would love the less-is-more approach and yet I still remember how wonderful Christmas was to me as a kid, when my mom did batches and batches of cookies and the whole house was decorated and we sang in Christmas musicals and plays.
I know I can't recreate my childhood, but it just seems like it gets harder and harder to keep the meaning of Christmas at the focus. Is anybody else torn during Christmas season? It's wonderful and overwhelming to me at the same time. That's where I'm at today...loving all that this season holds, but feeling too small to hold it all.


Mette Thomas said...

I just read your story of Teagan i have been reading your blog for a while (not sure how i first found it) but had never thought to read your story of teagan. Not sure why as its normally the first thing i do especially as if it about kids.

But anyway it had been a while and i had never read the story, as i read it i knew why i hadn't thought to read it before. I was certainly meant to read it at this point in my life.

I have an 11 yr old with physical and intellectual disabilities which I have recently been finding dealing with him soo very difficult, we have three kids and i was feeling so overwhelmed with all that he was needing and just not getting to all the kids needs. He had just last week had a suspected stroke, and although it had been declared not a stroke the change in his behaviour was evident and no cause was found. I just found myself feeling so sorry for our life and having a great big cry about what we face daily and what the future will hold as the Surgeon now tells us is problems will be progressive, what!! after 11yrs of not knowing what the future holds how can they now say that it is progressive. Still hoping i misunderstood ??

Anyway had just come from a school meeting where his teacher said we may have to start thinking ahead because if we don't get his aggression in control she juts cant see us being able to keep him at home - another WHAT!!!! like i would ever send him anywhere??

Anyway like i said a crappy day and then i read your story, of course as you can imagine i promptly pulled up my sox and started to look for solutions instead of feeling sorry for myself i have my three children here and although they are sooo difficult they are ours and they are healthy and perfect in our eyes.

Thank you for sharing your story i was wondering how Wyndham was doing as i was so hoping she was doing well.

And Christmas i would dearly like my kids not to have any toys as goodness knows we have enough to keep then busy and they don't play with what they have !! But i guess it would be Christmas without un wrapping much to much on Christmas day.


Mere said...

I feel EXACTLY like this right now!! I'm supposed to make a christmas list for my parents and don't have a SINGLE thing to put on there. I need nothing but Him in all reality but have every matieral good I want. It is so hard to explain to people that celebrate Christmas but aren't doing it for that right Reason the there is a Reason For The Season....kinda sad to watch them celebrate a holiday without meaning when in fact, there is SO much meaning...know what I mean??

Still enjoying your blog!!
Love, Mere

Anonymous said...

Hope you remember me? Anyway, since the kids are very well provided for and since you'd like them to think about others, perhaps they can donate their extra toys to others, or even better, maybe the older ones can donate something they cherish...? The meaning of Christmas was lost when they started calling it xmas

Rachel said...

I have often wished for simpler and less "cluttered" Christmas days. Our budget is small, this year even smaller since Dh has been out of work for 9 months. But I can't say that we are hurting in any way - but I feel obligated to buy something nice (always I do feel like this) for many of our family members. I don't even like making my own presents since they always look so much more "pathetic" than what I can get at the store. And just what do you buy people who don't need anything? but what they want is WAY out of budget. Somehow I wish I could just relax and have things be much simpler. But I have a knack for making simple things complicated.

Brittany said...

oh girl, this 'blah' feeling you speak of came to me in late October, right before the holiday season kick off and the week of my birthday... So much I wanted to do (as a newlywed), so many traditions I wanted to revive and keep going, so many important gifts to buy, the money, the decorations... it was too overwhelming! I was having mini panic attacks daily.

So, I made myselsome rules for this holiday season and vowed to stand by them. As for decorations, I thought of things I wouldnt forgive myself for if I didnt display, which for me was a traditional tree - although I love the Martha white trees with jewel toned decor, but buying all new decor = stressful - stockings on the mantel and a wreath on the front door. And as for gifts, my new hubby and I decided a limit of 20.00 for everyone on our list, equalled out the playing field and refused to get wrapped up in the consumerism... and I decided that this year, above all else, I want to make memories and for the first time in years, I actually want to enjoy the season... bot just go through the motions!

Keri said...

Amen and Hallelujah.......we are scaling back Christmas this year, too. All the decorations came out and I just felt like......UGH!! So I put up our tree and set out some of our favorites and put the rest away. I knew it was time to change up some things when the idea of Christmas made me feel stressed out and overwhelmed. I have had a yearly PJ exchange with about 20 friends the last several years and I cut that out this year because it would have been brutal for my family to live with me while I tried to fit that party in.

I have to say, I'm not sad at all about scaling back.......just relieved. We are leaning towards more "Experience" gifts this year meaning we are thinking of things to do with our kids knowing they'll remember the "doing" more than the toys. Then again, there is only 2 of them.......not 5! I grew up the oldest of 5 and I remember one year when there were inner tubes under the tree that were used later in the day for sledding......I remember that and not one single toy I got.

Scale back........you'll feel better, you'll be less stressed, and your kids are not going to miss a thing!

Anonymous said...

AMEN SISTER!! Usually put up two good size trees and several other smaller ones- well, just got the tree up tonite and think it will be the only one! My son has every toy imaginable and dont play with a single one but a bat/ball...therefore I strugle with what to get him and yet he needs nothing... He wants a puppy and a DS.. and really that is ALLLLLL he needs--torn between what to do- I too remember the holidays and what fun- it was! I want him to have the same- nut after 7 years of tons of toys--not just from santa-or mom and dad- but throw 2 g-ma & g-pas,aunts uncle and that is a slew of toys !!! Then comes the stocking stuffers..I love buying them but.....what to do with the little junk after Christmas...I have been trying to do more practical things-tooth paste-socks etc. Then we hacve St Nick too!!! think i will just stick to fruit and candy. I was so glad to see your post cause I have been struggling with this! God Bless You and yours this holiday season! Amy

Anonymous said...

I read "Unplugging the Christmas Machine" when my kids were in preschool and it really helped. Good luck!

anna said...

hi jody. i've been reading your blog for awhile now. and i love all the pictures of your little children. so cute. and the other night, i read teagan's story. so sad. but so encouraging. you and chip have a wonderful testimony.

i've been thinking alot about christmas lately. we have six month old twins, so toys are not a big deal yet. i want our children to know why we celebrate christmas and that toys are not the focus. but like you, i want my children to experience my childhood too. when you figure it out, let me know what to do! :)

mumameee said...

So true...I am starting to get all stressed out - more things to fill the house up with, when our girls really don't need anything. It is also our youngest's 1st birthday on Christmas day - so double the amount of presents....I am thinking of giving some things away in the next few weeks to those who are needy. That way we can make way for the new & also give to those who are less fortunate than us. Also - where do we put a big tree, that is safe around a crawling child?! Simple is best :)

Janet B said...

I just love Christmas, with all it's pomp and ceremony and yet you are right, I seem to be reading about more and more people who want to keep it simple. I think it's important for us to remember the reason for Christmas. We can still have the traditional things without going overboard. Children are amazing things - they don't need all the fancy "stuff"! Good luck with whatever you decide!!

Jen said...

I am on the exact same page. I think we (as a country) have found it "normal" to overindulge. We all just want our kids to be happy, right? But.... I am finding that the overindulged children learn to feel entitled. And I don't want my 25 year-old children still living in my house because they can't take care of themselves! So... even though we are used to the overwhelming Christmas mornings in my house, (not to mention that "keeping up with the Jones'" feeling)I have been waking up each day and telling myself I will not do that to myself or my kids this year. So far, I have been strong! I think it will be worth it in the long run if we scale back and focus a little more on the reason for the holiday.

Anonymous said...

I can "hear" your angst and have experienced the same over the years. My kids are now grown but I love when I hear people give their kids (each) only 3 gifts, because that's what the wise-men gave Jesus. There is also a website called something like the Advent Conspiracy which has a cool idea on scaling back.
I think our culture has painted an unrealistic picture of the "perfect" Christmas which is totally a Madison Avenue generated idea. It wasn't but 100 years ago when the holiday was much different. People might have had a tree and some baked goodies...but the gifts were minimal. I think the focus was once more Christ-focused than it is now. To battle the culture with it's materialistic thrust is hard---especially with young children. Google The Advent Conspiracy, view it and then comment...would love to hear thoughts on it!!!

N, Kelly, D, E and Zoe said...

I feel the same way Jody. I want our Christmas to be about Christ and traditions, not their new toys or clothes. Sometimes it's hard for me to know how to find that balance.

Last night I was totally reminded. I was cleaning and putting away the Christmas storage boxes and my daughter just started crying. I couldn't figure out what was wrong. We sat down together and just cuddled for a bit. That's all she needed. In that 30 minutes I didn't care about the tree only being half decorated or all the other things on my to-do list. In 20 years I know I'm going to laugh at my half-decorated tree, but I will cherish those 30 minutes when I just got to be mom to her.

Don't stress yourself out. I know that's easier said than done, but in the grand scheme, the 4 dozen cookies and perfectly decorated house won't hold a candle to their time with you.

blog-diggidy (jsprik) said...

i think as long as you remember the true meaning of Christmas throughout the Holidays, it doesn't matter if it's BIG or small!! Their will be JOY no matter what!! Be Blessed!!

Bird's Words said...

I hear ya! At our house, our son gets 3 gifts (because of the three gifts given to Jesus).. no more. It's been a long tradition, and he really thinks hard about it. We don't get a lot of stuff during the year for him, and we have even asked others to not overdo it too, so the gifts at Christmas are special.
We also do something in service to others, whether it's adopting a family to give presents to, or whatever. this year, we are going to eat at Waffle House after our Christmas Eve service, and we are taking presents to all of those workers! I am very excited about it!
We are in the process of adopting little girl from Ethiopia this year, so my mind is full of wondering what she has or doesn't have. it has changed my perspective even more this season!
blessings on you and yours this Christmas...

Anonymous said...

I happened on your blog a short time ago and the story about Teagan grabbed me. Such a sad story, yet one that ends with hope because Teagan is in a wonderful place, sitting at the feet of the One who adores our children whom He created, where she'll be reunited with you all for eternity.

As I read the comments above, a common thread hit me. Many (including me) are thinking, "our kids have too many toys now," or "I'm supposed to make a list but I don't really 'need' anything." I guess if you asked some of the needier kids in our public school system what they want, they might want a dad, or mom, in their life. Or 3 meals a day. Or for their parent to stop getting drunk. Or the kids in very underprivileged countries, who would just love one good meal a day, to be in cleaner circumstances, or to have medicine to cure their family's illness.

With that said, don't get me wrong. We love buying our children and grandchildren gifts, seeing their eyes light up, etc. with all the holiday lights, magic, church programs, gifts, etc. But really, we are so RICH in our lives, physically and spiritually. We eat well, we sleep well, we have medical care, and our children live without real wants, not too mention that God restores joy, peace and blessings to us daily (not without hardship at times, I admit, but he made no promises about having it easy because we're His). How blessed are we?? God is so good and sometimes we forget that He really IS the reason for the season, trite as that saying may have become.

My husband and I still give family gifts, but we have toned way down on numbers and amounts. We are striving to donatee more gifts to underprivileged children through local programs, and our church plant has recently taken on a local "hotel" where near homeless families live. We've been having soup/bread/cookie cookouts, play board games with them, and just try to love on them while gently letting them know it's simply a gift from God. Planting a seed and having faith that God will take it further. Our whole family is doing this and I believe it sends a message to our grandchildren that we are very blessed and God will bless us for paying it forward.

Merry Christmas to all!

justmyopinion12 said...

You are not alone. With the current financial situation and yet at the same time feeling there is nothing any of us need, it seems harder to get in the groove. Even my kids have said we should do without gifts this year, but I'm just having trouble getting my head (or is it my heart) around what Christmas Day would really be like if we decided to forego the gift exchange. Having the emphasis totally on Him would really be awesome, but I'm not sure we'd really be able to handle how different the day would be.

Anonymous said...

is that a photo of a card at the top of your page, or is it something a photoshop?

Anonymous said...

even without kids, it is so tricky... to stay focused, simple, content, appreciative of the true meaning. it is one of those "tension" points where you can't be pulled too hard in either direction, but have to steady the swing in the middle somewhere.
thanks for being honest!

Lianna Knight said...


I am not sure if you remember me or not, but you had posted on my blog a while back when I was hosting a Coach Purse giveaway for my husband and I to try and raise funds for our THIRD IVF attempt. I just wanted you to know that I have received an Amazon Kindle from a very GENEROUS donor and am currently hosting a raffle for it on my blog. Here is the link to that post...http://bethouaknight.blogspot.com/2008/11/its-time-for-kindle-giveaway.html
I would love it if you could post about it on your blog and help me out with this journey of infertility.

Many blesings to you!