There is no one right way to celebrate Christmas

Traditions help make holidays special. We look forward to the things we “always” do, the seasonal foods, events, activities, decorations.

But as busy as everyday life is, adding in all the holiday extras can increase pressure. Every year brings tips about managing Christmas. But this year I have seen a new emphasis, calling for a more minimalist approach to the holidays: less spending, less decorating, less going and doing.

Most of us truly appreciate finding ways to reduce pressure. We shouldn’t keep doing things just because that’s what we’ve always done. It might be best to discard traditions that have become burdensome rather than joyful or rotate some so that we’re not overwhelmed.

But some of the posts I have read on this topic cause me to fear a new judgmentalism, a looking down on those who don’t do less.

If a minimalist approach appeals to you, that’s fine. But the person who enjoys putting out all 32 pieces of a Christmas village because she loves the way they look and she remembers the people who gifted her with the pieces one by one through the years shouldn’t feel guilty about it.

What everyone does for Christmas depends on how many people are in the family, how much time, energy, and money is available, personal preferences, etc.

One person likes to put out just a handful of decorations. Another likes to display every Christmas item she has accumulated for 30 years or put trees of various sizes in every room.

One family’s Christmas dinner might look like any other meal, with the exception of pumpkin pie for dessert. Another likes to go all out with special dishes for the season.

One family prefers no gifts or a gift to a charity in their name. Another saves up for months or shops all year for gifts.

Some like to hit all the Christmas performances and events they can. Others prefer quiet nights at home by the fire with hot chocolate and Christmas movies. Most of us are somewhere in-between.

None of these is wrong one way or the other.

Most of us find that some traditions change through the years. We’ve added some and discarded others over time. We made Christmas cookies when my sons were young. Then one year we just didn’t get to it – but no one seemed to notice. We have so many sweets that time of year, we didn’t suffer for not having cookies. But with a young grandson now, it’s fun to revive that tradition. We used to do a birthday cake for Jesus mainly for the kids to remember Whose birthday it was. But in later years we stopped. One year we had an elementary Christmas piano recital on Monday night, a high school piano recital Tuesday, church on Wednesday night, an elementary school Christmas program Thursday night, and a high school Christmas program Friday night. That week was probably bookended by Christmas cantatas and children’s Christmas programs at church on Sundays. Talk about exhausting. Fun, but exhausting. Thankfully our church and school adjusted their calendars after that. But in those years of so much to attend, we didn’t go to many community events. Since our kids are grown, we have been able to venture out and try a few new things. Some have laid aside the tradition of Christmas cards and family newsletters, but I will determinedly keep sending them as long as I can because I enjoy both sending and receiving greetings

The point is, there is no one right way to celebrate Christmas. We have to be careful that we don’t impose the solutions we find for our family onto everyone else. It’s up to each family or individual to assess all the factors involved and decide what works best.

We can commemorate the birth of our Savior in many ways. Let’s not judge each other on how we do it. Let’s just each work on keeping the focus of Christmas where it ought to be: remembering that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday, Tell His Story, Let’s Have Coffee, Woman to Woman Word-filled Wednesday,Wise Woman, Faith on Fire)

16 thoughts on “There is no one right way to celebrate Christmas

  1. Yes! I get annoyed with the everything is materialist, etc. It is the motivation that matters, sure sometimes there is greed, but sometimes it is giving!

  2. Lovely thoughts, and so refreshing to just read about a “common sense” approach. It *is* interesting to observe the new minimalist trends. My own kids tend to want to throw most everything away, and it makes me a little sad. The pendulum always swings one way or the other …

  3. Thank you, Barbara. I, too, have noticed that there’s some degree of judgement from both ends of the scale. As in so many things, it’s truly no ones business how a family chooses to celebrate Christmas.
    In our family, the only one we try to please is our Savior whose birth we are celebrating. Our goal is to be mindful of good stewardship of our resources including time, money and health.

  4. For sure, Barbara. This is a gentle reminder to give each other support, grace, and space to live out how we each want to celebrate Advent.

    So respectful, so kind!

    I’ve found that what worked for me in the distant past no longer fits. We celebrate in personal ways that make each of us smile, give thanks, and find peace.

    Merry Christmas, friend …

  5. Well, once again you’ve nailed it, Barbara! Without the manger it’s all hoopla anyway, so whatever we decide to add to our understanding of Jesus as Incarnate Lord, we should start our celebration by extending His grace to other celebrants!

  6. “….a new judgmentalism, a looking down on those who don’t do less” Oh my – thank you for stating that so well. I thought, perhaps, I was the only one who had noticed. If I’m not cutting back, letting go or doing less – well, than I must be doing it wrong. So confusing?? Your post was so well done. I think I will share it with some that I know. Thanks!

  7. Such a great reminder that there is not a one size fits all to the holidays. What works best for us is what we should do. That is a celebration that we will remember because we focused on our family the traditions that are important to us. Thank you for this wisdom.

  8. Well said, Barbara! I’m planning a wedding for our daughter on January 3, so our home will be filled with family and not a lot of decorations! I might do a little decorating this Sunday, but it certainly hasn’t happened yet!

  9. Very well said. Thank you so much for sharing. I am definitely one of those people who go all out at Christmas. It is my favorite time of year, but like you said not every one celebrates the same way and that is Okay. The only thing that is a must is celebrating the birth of Christ as our Savior. That is the only right way.

  10. You made the key point, “Let’s just each work on keeping the focus of Christmas where it ought to be: remembering that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners,” in the midst of a call for gentleness and grace toward one another. It’s so much easier to live like there is one way, when that simply isn’t true. There is one Savior and many ways to celebrate.

    I really appreciated your heart and your willingness to speak an important exhortation. It’s one I need to be reminded of, more often than I would like. Much of what I write about comes from the outdoors, particularly Yellowstone. In regard to different way to enjoy the outdoors, my favorite Yellowstone author wrote this: “Recreationalists should be more tolerant of one another.” Apparently, the tendency to believe there is one way is everywhere.

  11. Pingback: Christmas Devotional Reading | Stray Thoughts

  12. Pingback: Christmas Grief, Christmas Hope, Christmas Joy | Stray Thoughts

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