December is very demanding, isn’t it? It seems that my three kids at three different schools have more break-up parties, Christmas concerts, end of year assemblies than I can attend.
There’s also five family birthdays to celebrate – my husband and Mr 14, almost 15 – included.
I find it hard to fit in all the Christmas things that are meaningful to me, among the Christmas things that seem to take priority. And it’s not that any of those concerts or gatherings are terrible – it’s just that the combination of extroversion and commercialism can be a little exhausting.
So this list is my non-negotiable one for Christmas
- watch at least one Christmas movie with the kids.
- spend a day baking, then spend a night with two close friends to wrap our baked goods and create hampers for teachers and neighbours – this is one of my favourite Christmas things to do.
- buy at least 90% of my presents in November – I can’t stand the idea of going into a shopping centre in December.
- make something, if not a few things. Last year, I sewed Christmas stockings in linen with red and white trimmings. This year, I’m going to sew some linen stars – yes, notice the traditional French theme going on! Crafting gives my hands something to do, while my mind slows down and stops racing.
- take the kids for a walk or drive along the streets that participate in Christmas lights.
- make peppermint bark with the kids – we always make extra and there is still never enough to go around!
- go to Christmas Eve mass – our kids have been angels and shepherds when they were younger. I’m not sure whether Mr 9 is still up for a role this year …
- celebrate the December birthdays at two different gatherings.
- decorate the tree together – we try to wait until the December birthdays are over.
- decorate a gingerbread house – I shut my eyes and try to ignore all the lollies.
- celebrate Christmas Day with a meal with both families.
- open our Advent calendar each day. We have a tradition of mainly notes with only the odd toy or chocolate. Every day, a note tells the kids what Christmas festivity we are going to do that day – as elaborate as decorating the gingerbread house or as simple as showing kindness to someone. It has taken me a few years to hone this art, and to me, this is one of the most important things we do in December to focus on Christmas our way with creativity and connection.
- buy a new Christmas book – we do have quite the collection now!
And everything else is extra. We’ll go to most of the Christmas gatherings we’re invited to, but it’s not possible to go to all of them. We’ll stay up later some nights but I will tuck myself in bed early as often as I can. There’ll be a little more chocolate and champagne than usual but we’ll have more salad and summer fruit as well. There’ll be more money spent than at any other time of the year, but we’ll donate to a charity or two and will do our best not to give in to the general sense of consumerism by avoiding the shops.
And what’s on your non-negotiable list for Christmas?