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.