— by Rachael Mills
One of my favourite things to do throughout the festive season is to hop on Mumsnet to check out the Christmas conversations. They’re fascinating, funny, outrageous, and raw. The glimpse into how others ‘do’ Christmas and what it means to them gives much food for thought. Examining what we do and why at this time of year is helpful, especially when you have young ones watching your every move.
As with most families, our traditions are blended from what we remember enjoying as children. Light-spotting, Christmas movies, Santa Sacks filled with small bits and essentials for the year, larger gifts from family and friends under the tree. Some of our traditions are new, formed throughout our marriage – the Smith & Caughey window display at night with Starbucks Christmas coffees, checking out community-decorated trees at a local church, hiding an Elf each night for the kids to find. Traditions help mark the season, drawing our attention to the greater truths at the centre of the celebration. Traditions are also unique to each family, and draw us closer to each other as we draw closer to God.
And yet the world outside seeks to upsize our traditions, corporatize them into something we can buy and experience on a mass scale. There’s a focus on having and doing more. More presents for more people. More events, more pre-Christmas sales, more everything. I find it overwhelming. And if we’re not careful we can become distracted by the noise, caught up in making sure our children have the best Christmas we can give them. FOMO right? But what is actually often missed out is the small, humble first Christmas that was magical for the best reason – a Saviour born to us, to reconcile us to the One who loves us beyond all else. We forget too that children don’t need the bigness and the hype and the fifteen different events to have a great Christmas. What they desire is our time, affection, and small things done with great love.
So this year – thanks to a Mumsnet thread and my own desire to make sure the Christ is not missed in our Christmas – we’re going small. I have pared back what we do, making sure the events we go to contribute to what we want our Christmas to be. We’ve said no to a lot in order to say yes to what matters. Rather than letting December become dominated by the consumer-hype, we’ve filtered everything through our 3 priorities – faith; family; fun. And we’ve plotted in time for life-giving space, for quiet, for not shopping and planning and attending but simply being with each other and with God. And I feel like I can breathe without guilt over all I am not doing, which is the best feeling of all.