In this post I share my thoughts on home and my great desire to be here during the Holiday Season. I think deep down we all have this desire to have a safe cozy place to be. I will also share some traditions that we have to make home special this time of year.
A Busy Season
I understand that this can be a super busy time of year; full of all kinds of great activities. However, busyness can often equal stress. I know it does for me anyway. Getting our family out the door is no small feat. You can read more about that routine here. I think leaving the house is one of the most stressful activities, especially in winter. There are coats, socks, shoes, gloves, water bottles, snacks…..a million things to think of!
However, with some thinking, I also find that this time of year can be a slow time as well. If we are intentional about what we say yes to. One thing we try to do is limit our activities. We don’t have to say yes to every invite, we also don’t have to make extra traditions that take us away from home.
Recharge and Reconnect
While we homeschool, my oldest son also goes to the Jr. College, and my two oldest boys play basketball for a Christian School. This adds to our busyness. However, this time of year there is a two week break from school and also a break from practices and games! This is a dream to me!
With a little planning, these two weeks can be a time of recharging and connecting as a family. Here are a few things we do to make the most of this break around Christmas and New Years.
Host Activities at Your Home
One of the easiest ways to stay home and still enjoy others is to host the gatherings at your home! For us this is much more practical. We have the space, and we are used to having a lot of people around. Again, the food and drink doesn’t need to be elaborate or even homemade!
Make your home welcoming with plenty to eat and drink and clean bathrooms. That is really all most people want. It doesn’t have to be a showcase home with elaborate decorations. A beautifully decorated home is nice, but if that isn’t your style, don’t worry about it! People want interaction with people! They want to feel welcomed and comfortable. Your friends and family aren’t coming to your home to be impressed, they are coming to spend time with you!
Christmas Eve is at Home
We have done our best since ever since our children were little to protect Christmas Eve. This has worked for our family and we have done this for at least 15 years. I understand that not everyone can do this. You may have family gatherings or special church services to attend. However, you could implement this on another night during the Christmas season.
Here’s our tradition, and our children LOVE this. We have dinner, it doesn’t have to be elaborate or fancy. Maybe a roasted Chicken and some potatoes. After dinner we clear off the table, and clean up the kitchen. Then we shut off all the lights. Each person has their own candle. I have collected old fashioned candle holders throughout the years. We get our Bibles, and my husband reads the story of Jesus’ birth from the various gospel accounts. Here is the order of the scripture that he reads.
We then talk about anything that comes up. Little ones ask what are taxes? Older kids ask more difficult and thought provoking questions. It’s a sweet time and we all reflect on the account.
My older children all state that this is their favorite childhood memory. The younger ones are eager for this night every year! I truly believe this sets the tone of our home for Christmas. It’s intentional and meaningful. Plus after Bible time, the kids get to carry the candles to the bathroom to brush their teeth and up to their rooms for bedtime. It gives them a taste of what it was like before electricity which is super fun!
Gifts are Limited
We have never made a huge deal out of gifts. This has also been intentional. How are our children going to truly believe that this season is about celebrating Christ if we put a huge focus on self. Plus, isn’t stuff just a burden most of the time? I mean really? You get a bunch of stuff you don’t need and then where do you put it all? Suddenly you have a new task…organizing all the junk!
Believe me our children are far from deprived. There are gifts from family and friends as well. We have more than enough! This year we are getting one big family gift (something that we need). Then each child will get a stocking full of small gifts. Honestly this has grown a spirit of thankfulness in our children, not a spirit of greed. I can honestly say our children don’t have an attitude of entitlement or greed.
I don’t tell you that to brag…we have done PLENTY of things wrong! This is just one area where I am truly happy with what I see in my children. This also relieves the stress of Christmas shopping. I find it sickening to try to shop for stuff that we don’t need, spending money we don’t need to spend. Just for the sake of having lots of gifts under the tree? No thank you! I read something that a friend with a large family wrote. She said her children receive mostly things they need for Christmas. New boots, socks, coats etc. Then they get one fun gift. Her children also are extremely grateful.
Evenings are for Games and Books
It is so easy this time of year to say “yes” to watching a movie. It’s dark well before bedtime, there aren’t all of the outside chores to do and there is a bit of this feeling of “what do we do with all this time?”
We will watch a movie or two during this time. However, we say no to movies a lot. The kids get so wound up after a silly movie that it just isn’t worth it! Plus, we connect so much better when we are actually engaged in an activity.
Here are a few of our favorite board games.
Balderdash and Beyond Balderdash– Apparently this game is outdated! I couldn’t find Amazon links for it!
We also play hide and seek, laser tag, ping-pong, charades, the telephone game and also the finish the story game.
Reading is also a great activity! We still read aloud as a family, even to our oldest children. Here are a few great books that everyone can get into. Rifles for Watie, The Story of the World, Christie’s Old Organ, Trailblazers Books, Rascal, The Sugar Creek Gang series, The Little House series
New Years Eve
This is also a time that we have managed to keep ourselves at home. We plan our own party, including fun appetizer foods that we don’t normally eat. We get sparkling cider and drink it out of champagne flutes and toast to the New Year. My husband’s family had the tradition of watching old home movies. We have started doing this as well. I usually end up in tears, but it is still a sweet time!
The little ones don’t stay up until Midnight, but of course the older children want to. This is one of the nights that we watch a movie. Dozing off is totally acceptable for adults!
Ben and I used to try to go out for a date on New Year’s Eve. But the truth is we are both home bodies and fighting crowds and crazies on the road doesn’t appeal to us at all! We are happy to be home!
I am into making printables lately…in case you couldn’t tell! I made this one for my home the other night. This phrase captures my heart! I want to be home, with the people I love most…especially during this season. I printed a few of these and gave them to our church families. The sentiment seemed to resonate with them as well. I thought I would share them with you here. I just printed them on card stock and stuck them in a cheap frame.
Please Share Your Traditions
I would love to hear what you do to make this season special without feeling hectic! Do you like to get out and do all of the activities or are you a homebody too? Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!