I hope you had a wonderful, Merry Christmas! We had a nice relaxing one and much of that was due to our decision to drastically simplify the holiday season this year.
When we found out we were expecting, we did the math and realized that I would be 37 weeks at Christmas. The fact that I would be full term at Christmas, in combination with Scott being a music minister, Christmas falling on a Saturday, and my family being over 3 hours away meant that we wouldn't be traveling in December this year. This was our 4th Christmas together and every Christmas morning we would get up early, exchange gifts, go to Scott's parents house and open gifts, then head to Birmingham to be with my family by Christmas night. Whew. Don't get me wrong, we love spending time with our families, but when you can't travel it makes things easier. Our schedule was lighter this season. We had nights at home in the weeks leading up to Christmas where we would keep asking each other, "Are you sure that we don't have anything on the schedule tonight?" We had the usual church obligations that come with being in the ministry but other than that, Scott and I had lots of time to rest and relax...something I'm so thankful for since this was our last Christmas "alone."
We (I) simplified even further by making the decision not to decorate the house this year. I know. It sounds so horribly Scrooge-ish, doesn't it? The truth is, I was way too tired to decorate floor-to-ceiling like I usually do. I was still working both jobs as of 2 weeks ago and between that and getting ready for baby, I decided that it wasn't necessary.
So 90% of our decorations stayed in storage. I asked to skip the tree this year but Scott wanted one, so our compromise was a 3 foot pre-lit tree from Wal-Mart. It cost $18, much cheaper than the fresh tree we usually get. We dug out one box of small ornaments from the shed, found the nativity, and got out the box of wrapping paper and gift bags. That's it. And y'all, it was really, really nice. No pressure to keep the tree watered. No china to unwrap and wash and put away. Nothing but a nativity set and a little tree. The only part of it that I missed was my Christmas china, given to me by my sweet grandmother. (She adds to my set every year and each birthday and Christmas I unwrap a new piece or two of Spode Christmas Tree--so fun)
The third way we simplified was in our spending. We, like most people, are on a tight budget, so we did things a little differently this year. Scott and I decided to only do stockings for each other...which neither one of us exactly followed--we both had two small things to open for each other. We also cut down on our spending for others. We reduced the "amount per person" on the list and it was so rewarding. I do the Christmas shopping and having such a tight budget caused me to be very intentional in my buying--which put such a refreshing spin on my holiday spending. Each gift was thought out and carefully planned...I hope I always buy gifts with that perspective every year.
So we had Christmas. Not many decorations, not a lot of spending, and no traveling. But Christmas still comes no matter how much money you spend or how many people you visit in December or how tall your tree is. This Christmas was such a nice reminder of the true meaning of Christmas--a tiny baby, the dawn of redeeming grace. Thank you Jesus for simplifying our Christmas for us.
My parents came to see us Christmas day. This is what my house looked like about 12 hours before they arrived....
The entry into the kitchen. Notice the crispy leaves drug in through the doggie door. Lovely.
This is the worst--the dining room. I wrapped all the gifts here and when you mix Christmas wrapping with baby gifts and thank you notes, apparently you get this insanity.
Don't worry--I cleaned before the family arrived. And we had such a fun time with them. It was so, so good to see them and they even stayed an extra night because of snow and ice back home. How fun! They brought goodies from my grandma, they cooked, they cleaned, they washed my dishes and loaded the dishwasher. I almost didn't let them go home. I only let them leave because they'll be back as soon as baby girl decides it's time for her arrival.
Happy New Year! I hope this year is full of joy and blessings for you and your family.