Christmas Strangely Simplified

Ahhh…what a nice Friday morning. I wake up in my snuggly bed after a great night of sleep following a lovely Thanksgiving. My husband is home and doesn’t have to work today. I open my iPad and check my mail and eventually my Facebook page to see most of my friends have been up all night getting deals on presents.
There is talk of folks getting trampled and stabbed on their way to buy a TV or a toy. Now that stores open on Thanksgiving Day people actually say that they get less time with their family eating turkey, but the good news is they will be able to provide better presents on Christmas.

I don’t get it.

I just don’t, but again, this is where I’m weird.
I do understand that there is such a thing as the thrill of the hunt. After all, I’ve been a coupon queen for well over four years. I know all about saving a buck. I even understand the fun of a tradition of going to do something out of the ordinary with girlfriends or family members and shopping like crazy, though sleep has always won out for this girl.

Maybe I’ve never done it because in the past money was always tight in our house since birthday season directly precedes Black Friday.

This year, I find myself really delving in to the “why’s” of the way our family celebrates Christmas. It’s certainly not the first year we have broken tradition with the way we do things. It’s certainly not the only way our family does things differently. But this year we have had some questions asked. People are trying to figure us out. Ha! Good luck!

Here’s why. When the kids were little, we did “the thing”. For the holidays we tried to run from one family celebration to the other. We spent money we didn’t really have to make sure that everyone we loved got a gift. Santa came–boy, did he–and we had a blast enjoying that. I loved the look on my kids’ faces Christmas morning as they viewed the mountain of presents more than any thing in the whole world. We spent money we didn’t really have to make sure they had the Christmas I dreamed of.
As they got older, and frankly, Christmas got trickier due to family situations, some of the joy faded. Not only did their presents become pricier as we started shopping at Apple.com instead of Toys r Us, but it seemed that the previous Christmas and all the gifts that were so important that year had gotten lost somewhere in their memory and mattered much less than they cost. This is not to say my kids aren’t grateful. They are the most grateful, thoughtful givers and receivers, but maybe “stuff” just doesn’t stand out in their minds that much.

Also, our love of travel grew exponentially…
So…somewhere along the way, we ditched the whole thing, kit and caboodle, and celebrated Christmas elsewhere without gifts and without a ham. In fact, our Christmases have included seashells, and plane rides, and coastlines from California to Florida. We’ve gone from turkey to tacos and ham to Hibachi.

And somewhere in there we’ve slowed down the pace and found Christmas in a whole new way.

Lately, Addie has been asked at work about her family. It seems we are intriguing. They can’t decide what category to put us in. They hear about our kids who stay out of trouble. They hear that we homeschool. They know we aren’t actively involved in a specific church at the moment. They hear we don’t do Christmas.
There’s a lot of “weirdness” that we don’t even publicize. Things that make us different. And, quite honestly, things people don’t really want to know. I’m not trying to be mysterious, but our decisions isolate us enough already. I certainly don’t need to spell them out further. As God allows, I’m sure things will come out as I continue to write.

We DO believe Christmas is worth celebrating. It’s a beautiful holiday in its simplest meaning. Perhaps, like so many other things, it’s gotten a bit out of hand. Maybe, just maybe, it’s turned into a “thing we do” without even thinking about it. But, maybe I’m all wrong. I am constantly in a place of questioning. Or maybe just looking underneath things.

That is what happened to our family. We began to look deeper. And as He so often does, God showed us gently, one thing at a time, that just because everybody’s doing something, it may not be the right thing for us.

I am NOT criticizing presents at Christmas. Just like I’m not here to criticize where anyone else sends their kids to school or anything else anyone does. In one way, I love presents at Christmas and wish I was giving and getting a whole bunch of them! I hesitate to share what we do because people tend to get defensive as if I’m saying our way is right and yours is wrong. It couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Our journey is our journey and yours is yours, and I pray a lot that God will help me continue to mind my own business. I’m a huge fan of that concept.

I’m just sharing a bit of this path I’ve been on. It’s meant to be reflective.

Just like this Christmas will be. Wherever my family finds itself this year–maybe it will be drinking egg nog and opening some great gifts with family. Maybe it will be at a Sonic eating Chili Cheese Tots in Kentucky. I really don’t know.

What I do know is that there is more to the story. Just like with our family. We might present ourselves as pretty odd. Ask us anything. We are more than happy to share how we got here.
But I guarantee there is more to the story than how it appears.

This Christmas, consider looking deeper. Under the layers of wrapping paper, pretty lights, and carols, there’s a really profound Truth. It’s about a baby–but not just an ordinary baby. It was the birth of Grace. It was the beginning of freedom from the system that made every one else run around like chickens with their heads cut off looking for peace. He’s right there waiting for you with open arms.

Once you know that Truth, it will set you free–PRICELESS!

Food for thought

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