Posts Tagged ‘simple christmas’

Simplify Your Christmas, part 9

September 7, 2020

Christmas Revival

Are you hungry for the life and spirit you experienced in past Christmas
celebrations? Do you dream of capturing the simple Christmas where gift-giving is put into proper perspective? Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to experiencing a Christmas revival.

Build strong family traditions. Include your children and their interests when planning new traditions. Every year before Christmas I ask each one of my children what they’d like to do during the Christmas season. Their answers help determine what we do for Christmas.

Make sure each family member plays a vital role in the family’s traditions.
Each year the whole family decorates the Christmas tree and the house together. Then we choose one Saturday in December to make cookies (the kids help decide what cookies we make) and fudge for Christmas eating and for giving as gifts.

Include activities that add movement and physical activity to the celebration. Inactivity breeds boredom. As a child growing up, all of my relatives went to my grandparents house for Christmas dinner. After dinner we’d play games, some of which were Christmas gifts received that morning, including going outside to play touch football. Those are some of my fondest childhood Christmas memories.

Look for lighthearted ways to add fun to the celebration. A few Christmases ago I bought glasses that look like 3-D glasses that make Christmas lights look like snowflakes, Santa Clauses, and angels. We then toured the town looking at Christmas lights through those glasses. The kids loved it. It was the best $6 I spent that year.

Revive traditions from your ethnic heritage. If you have a Spanish heritage,
include a pinata in your Christmas celebration. If you’re heritage is from
Europe research the Christmas customs from the nation and incorporate a
tradition from that country. Try their traditional Christmas cuisine. The
important thing is to include every member of the family in learning about the traditions of your ancestors.

I hope these last few blogs help you simplify your Christmas and make it a more enjoyable holiday. The following exercise will help you decide what activities or types of activities will liven up your Christmas holiday.

Exercise: Family Fun

This exercise will help you clarify what kind of activities you family most
enjoys and will give you some ideas for new traditions to liven up your holiday.

1. Which of the following activities are generally enjoyed by the people you
celebrate Christmas with? Check those you participated in last Christmas.
Winter sports (specify)
Card-playing
Game-playing
Singing
Playing musical instruments
Reading aloud to each other
Attending concerts
Entertaining friends
Telling anecdotes about the family
Dancing
Cooking together
Going for walks
Taking trips to the country
Creating skits and plays
Caroling

2. Star the activities that you would like to do this year.

By doing this exercise, many people realize that they often neglect many of
their favorite activities at Christmas. Adding just one enjoyable tradition is
often all it takes to have a more rewarding celebration.

The Christmas Pledge

Believing in the beauty and simplicity of Christmas, I commit myself to the
following:
1. To remember those people who truly need my gifts
2. To express my love for family and friends in more direct ways than presents
3. To rededicate myself to the spiritual growth of my family
4. To examine my holiday activities in light of the true spirit of Christmas
5. To initiate one act of peacemaking within my circle of family and friends

The material presented here was taken from the book Unplug The Christmas Machine by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli published by William Morrow and Company, Inc.

Simplify Your Christmas, part 8

September 7, 2020

A Simple Christmas

Think about your dream Christmas, your ideal Christmas celebration. Don’t worry about lack of money or lack of talent. Just imagine what you would do, where you would go, how you would celebrate your perfect Christmas. Most people’s ideal Christmas has four characteristics. It is simple, not elaborate. It is not expensive. Everyone gets along with each other; and the celebration is relaxing, not stressful.

Why don’t we have our fantasy Christmas every year? There’s two reasons. One, most fantasies involve a little magic. We don’t have an unlimited amount of money to spend on decorations or gifts or entertainment. We also don’t have an unlimited about of talent to create the all around perfect Christmas. Two, life’s unpleasant realities are filtered out of our fantasies. The teenagers aren’t so cooperative and interactive. Uncle George doesn’t lay off the alcohol. Mom spends all her time in the kitchen preparing the meal and cleaning up after everyone with little if any help.

Those aren’t the only deterrents to the simple Christmas. Look at all the television ads, the women’s magazines, and television shows aimed at homemakers. They persuade people to make their Christmas as elaborate, as expensive, and as busy as possible. Another deterrent is people’s aversion to change. They want to have the same Christmas they had last year, and the year before that, and the year before that. They have traditions and rituals that they want to keep even though the traditions make Christmas more complicated. Also Christmas makes people nostalgic. They want to enjoy the same activities they participated in as children and share those activities with their children. Family obligations are a third deterrent to a simple Christmas. It can be hard to plan around a bed-ridden family member who relies on you for all their needs.

The following exercise will allow you to examine your fantasy Christmas and help you see what aspects of it you can incorporate into your Christmas celebration.

Exercise: A Christmas Fantasy
The following fantasy exercise will give you a clearer idea of what you are really looking for in Christmas. When you are through reading these instructions, close you eyes and imagine Christmas two years from now. We have chosen this length of time because it’s far enough away to give you some distance from your current celebration, but not so far away that a lot of your circumstances will have changed.

When you are ready to begin, choose a quiet location where you won’t be interrupted for ten or fifteen minutes. Imagine any kind of Christmas you wish as long as it is deeply satisfying. You can confine your fantasy to Christmas proper, or include the whole season. It may be very much like you present celebration or entirely different. You can magically include your favorite friends and relatives and make them behave any way you wish. You can celebrate in any setting. You don’t have to keep a single traditional Christmas activity, or you can keep them all. This will be Christmas the way you have always wanted it to be.

As you begin to fantasize, there will probably be a jumble of possibilities competing for your attention. If you find yourself with multiple fantasies, keep returning to the ideas that make you feel most satisfied.

Once you have settled on a particular fantasy, stick with it until you have
enriched it with lots of details. Imagine the physical setting, the activities,
how you are feeling, and how other people are feeling. What kind of food is there? How was it made? Are there any gifts? What are they like?

When you have completed your fantasy, write it down on a separate sheet (or sheets) of paper. Feel free to elaborate as you write. Then answer these
questions:

1. Of all the ways your fantasy was different from your usual celebration,
which difference was most satisfying to you?
2. Which parts (if any) of your fantasy would be most feasible to actually do
next Christmas?

The Christmas Pledge

Believing in the beauty and simplicity of Christmas, I commit myself to the
following:
1. To remember those people who truly need my gifts
2. To express my love for family and friends in more direct ways than presents
3. To rededicate myself to the spiritual growth of my family
4. To examine my holiday activities in light of the true spirit of Christmas
5. To initiate one act of peacemaking within my circle of family and friends

The material presented here was taken from the book Unplug The Christmas Machine by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli published by William Morrow and Company, Inc.

Simplify Your Christmas, part 7

August 29, 2020

The Gift of Joy

What is it that people want from Christmas? They dream of white Christmases. They want to be home for Christmas if only in their dreams. They dream of walking in winter wonderlands and shopping surrounded by happy shoppers listening to silver bells. But is that really what they want? No. What people really want is a sense of fulfillment, joy, and worth; they want the gift of joy.

How can you get that elusive gift of joy? You must identify what you feel is
most important about Christmas. Identify what you value most about Christmas.

Doing this will involve making choices, sometimes between two equally good things. “Should I direct the church Christmas program or bake cookies with the kids to give away as Christmas gifts?” Both are good things to do. The values that you’ve identified will help you make that decision.

Why do I have to identify these values? Can’t I just wing it? When you
identify your values ahead of time you are resolving the issues ahead of time. It is easier to make your decisions because you’ve already decided what’s most important to you. Don’t resolve the issues ahead of time and you may end up doing nothing and regretting it later.

Identifying what’s most important to you also keeps you from spending all your time on activities and projects that aren’t right for you. If you’re not
musically gifted you may not want to join a Christmas choir. On the other hand if you are really good at crafts you may want to make your gifts this Christmas.

Identifying what’s most important to you and what your values are will help you get that sense of fulfillment, joy, and worth you’re looking for this Christmas. The following exercise will help you identify what’s most important to you at Christmas.

Exercise: What Are You Celebrating?
In general, people ask Christmas to do too many things for them. They want it to strengthen their family bonds, give their spirits a lift in the dark days of
winter, stimulate their compassion and generosity, help them keep tabs on
far-flung friends, confirm their deepest religious beliefs, show off their skills as hosts and hostesses, establish their rank in the social order . . .
the list goes on and on. No one celebration can do it all.

This values-clarification exercise will help you decide which parts of Christmas are most deserving of your efforts. Once you have decided that, you will be able to plan a celebration that is in harmony with your deepest beliefs and expressive of who you are as an individual.

To complete the exercise, read through the following ten value statements below, cross off those that have no importance to you, and add any equally important ones that we have not included. Then decide which of the remaining values is most important to you. Put a 1 beside the sentence. Then find the one that is next important to you and put a 2 beside it. Continue in this manner until each statement has been assigned a different number. Even a value that has a low priority can still be important to you. Remember: 1 is highest and 10 is lowest.

Christmas is a time to be a peacemaker, within my family and the world at large.
Christmas is a time to enjoy being with my immediate family.
Christmas is a time to create a beautiful home environment.
Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Christ.
Christmas is a time to exchange gifts with my family and friends.
Christmas is a time for parties, entertaining, and visits with friends.
Christmas is a time to help those who are less fortunate.
Christmas is a time to strengthen bonds with my relatives.
Christmas is a time to strengthen my church community.
Christmas is a time to take a few days off from work and have a good time.

The Christmas Pledge

Believing in the beauty and simplicity of Christmas, I commit myself to the
following:
1. To remember those people who truly need my gifts
2. To express my love for family and friends in more direct ways than presents
3. To rededicate myself to the spiritual growth of my family
4. To examine my holiday activities in light of the true spirit of Christmas
5. To initiate one act of peacemaking within my circle of family and friends

The material presented here was taken from the book Unplug The Christmas Machine by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli published by William Morrow and Company, Inc.

Simplify Your Christmas, part 6

August 25, 2020

Inside The Christmas Machine

Mention gift-giving to a group of people and you’ll get a variety of responses. While they get pleasure from giving gifts to the special people in their lives, they have problems with the Christmas gift-giving thing. One problem they have is they feel they have to give elaborate, expensive gifts. Commercials on the television and radio, store ads, and store displays shout, “The more you buy and the more you spend show how much you love the ones on your gift list.” They just can’t afford giving these gifts. Another problem they have is that exchanging gifts at Christmas has very little value. They’re either trying to give something to someone who already has everything or they’re not able tailor each gift to the needs or desires of the recipient. One of the biggest problems people have with Christmas gift-giving, however, is the spiritual aspect of Christmas is drowned out by the commercial aspect. Stores are saying, “Spend, spend, spend.” Children are crying, “Gimme, gimme, gimme.” Rarely outside of churches will you hear, “Christmas is Jesus’ birthday. Happy birthday, Jesus!”

So, how can we simplify Christmas gift-giving? One thing we can do is break the 10 unspoken self-defeating gift-giving rules:
1. Give a gift to everyone you expect to get one from.
2. If someone gives you a gift unexpectedly, you should reciprocate that year, even if you had no previous intention of giving that person a present.
3. When you give someone a gift, you should plan to give that person a gift
every year thereafter.
4. The amount of time and money you spend on a gift should be directly
proportional to how much you care about the recipient.
5. The gift that you give someone should be equal in monetary value and/or
personal significance to the one you receive from that person.
6. The presents you give someone should be fairly consistent over the years.
7. If you give a gift to a person in one category (for example: coworkers or
neighbors) you should give gifts to everyone in that category. And these gifts
should be similar.
8. The gifts you give your children should be equal in number and monetary value, while at the same time suiting the unique qualities of each child.
9. Men should not give gifts to their male friends, unless the gifts are alcoholic beverages. Women, however, are encouraged to give gifts to their
female friends, and those gifts should not be alcohol.
10. Homemade gifts are more “meaningful” than store-bought ones.

A second thing we can do is give token gifts. Either make them yourself or shop for them at garage sales or thrift stores. Some families make a game of this by seeing who can give the most interesting gift for the least amount of money.

Giving gifts of time and energy is a third way we can simplify our gift-giving. Give coupon books that the recipient can redeem for various acts of kindness or gifts of time, or offer to do a chore for a month or some other period or time.

A fourth idea is give a donation to those in need or to the recipient’s favorite charity in lieu of a gift. Even teenagers go for these gifts.

No matter what you come up with to simplify your gift-giving, gifts given with love and sensitivity give Christmas fresh meaning.

The following exercises will help you examine and simplify your gift-giving this year.

Exercise 1: Gift Inventory
In the space below, list all the people you gave gifts to last year. Be sure to
include friends, neighbors, coworkers, and children of friends or neighbors.
Put a dollar sign by each person you spent more than ten dollars on.

Exercise 2: Four Gift Fantasies
1. Imagine yourself in hte following situations and check the ones that are
most appealing to you.
A. You open the mail one morning and discover that you have inherited $250 to spend on Christmas presents this year.
B. You are given two weeks of absolutely free time to devote to making
Christmas gifts.
C. Every member of your family is excited about exchanging simpler and
less expensive gifts.
D. Everyone in the nation decides to eliminate gift-giving from the
celebration. There is no holiday advertising, no gift-giving obligations.
People celebrate Christmas by joining with family and friends, by feasting, and with family and community Christmas activities.

2. Judging by your reactions to these imaginary situations, what changes would you ideally like to make in your family gift-giving?

Exercise 3: Gift Memories
1. Think back over past Christmases and remember a gift that you received that gave you great pleasure. What did you especially like about that gift?

2. Now remember a gift you received that make you feel anxious, confused,
angry, or disappointed. What was it about that situation that bothered you?

3. All in all, what kind of gifts do you feel best about receiving and giving?

The Christmas Pledge

Believing in the beauty and simplicity of Christmas, I commit myself to the
following:
1. To remember those people who truly need my gifts
2. To express my love for family and friends in more direct ways than presents
3. To rededicate myself to the spiritual growth of my family
4. To examine my holiday activities in light of the true spirit of Christmas
5. To initiate one act of peacemaking within my circle of family and friends

The material presented here was taken from the book Unplug The Christmas Machine by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli published by William Morrow and Company, Inc.

Simplify Your Christmas, part 5

August 23, 2020

The Christmas Family Reunion

Picture this. The house is brightly decorated with greens and candles. There is a fire in the fireplace. The kids are playing with their gifts in front of the tree ornamented with lights, tinsel, and all sorts of bright baubles. Christmas carols are playing in the background. Laughter is heard as the adults relax and get caught up with each other. Every room is perfumed by the wonderful food that was the Christmas feast. Sound like your Christmas family reunion?  Probably not.

There is so much that has to be done before the gathering. The hostess has to clean and decorate the house, plan the menus, buy all the food, and coordinate schedules. The guests have to buy and gather gifts, make arrangements for pets, make financial and travel arrangements, pack, stop mail and other deliveries, and secure the house.

Then comes the gathering. The house is rarely big enough for everyone attending so inconveniences are sure to crop up. The hot water runs out before the showers are finished. There’s always a line for the bathroom. The children are noisy. Some people stay up too late, while others get up too early. And the kitchen seems to always need cleaning. How people react to each other during these inconveniences determine whether the celebrations goes well or not.

People expect the Christmas celebration to bring everyone closer together. They fail to realize, however, that no family reunion is perfect. Everyone brings baggage to the reunion, family squabbles, neighborhood spats, and even office politics. If this baggage isn’t checked at the door, tensions at the gathering may run high.

Non-traditional families have other issues. Singles, because of movies, television, cards, and their own ideal Christmas, see Christmas as a time for couples or families to be together. Single parents face Christmas with a missing partner; their children missing a father, or mother.

How can we survive the Christmas homecoming? Concentrate on the people and the celebration, and you’ll find your enjoyment of the celebration enhanced. You can also anticipate as many problems as possible and take steps to deal with them before they occur. The exercises below will help you prepare for this year’s Christmas family reunion.

Exercise 1: The Perfect-Family Syndrome
No family is perfect, but if you can accept your family as it really is, you are going to have a more enjoyable celebration. This first exercise helps you take a look at your family members and explore your hidden expectations for them.

1. In the space below, write down the names of family members that you have complicated or mixed feelings about. Leave a blank space after each name.



2. After each name, write down something that troubles or disappoints you about that person. Here’s an example. Mary did this exercise and made the following comments about her family members:
Person  What I don’t like
Dad        Drinks too much
Mom     Too uptight and busy
Louise   Overly talkative
Mark     Too withdrawn

3. If you have little reason to believe that people are going to change the characteristics that bother you, look again at each person’s name and tell yourself, “I accept the fact that this person will probably . . . ” filling in the way that person will most likely behave.

Mary did this part of the exercise and told herself that she would try to accept the fact that her father often drank too much at Christmas. She realized that her mother chose to be so busy and that, even though any number of people offered to help her, she was running the show. Her sister Louise had always talked too much and always would. And her brother Mark often backed away from the family, probably for the very reasons that she did. While she experienced some disappointment in realizing these things about her family, she felt clearheaded about what the visit would be like.

4. Now think of one thing that you especially like about each of the people on your list. Write those desirable qualities down by their names.

Exercise 2: Family Strengths

When people are able to focus on their family strengths and not dwell on their weaknesses throughout the holiday season, they find that Christmas is many times more enjoyable. Whether you have specific family problems or not, this exercise will make you more aware of your family’s strong points.

Read the following statements. When a statement is a great family strength, mark it with a star. If it is a lesser strength, mark it with a check. Leave it blank if it does not describe your family at all.

We have common spiritual beliefs or accept each other’s different beliefs.
We know how to have fun together.
For the most part, we communicate with each other well.
We openly express our love and affection.
We have similar life-styles and values or accept each other’s differences.
We do not have serious money problems.
We have common Christmas traditions or make a special effort to respect our differences.
We have compatible styles of child-rearing.
We don’t have serious alcohol problems.
Other.
(If you have few positive responses, make a special effort to fill in the “other” category.)

The Christmas Pledge

Believing in the beauty and simplicity of Christmas, I commit myself to the following:
1. To remember those people who truly need my gifts
2. To express my love for family and friends in more direct ways than presents
3. To rededicate myself to the spiritual growth of my family
4. To examine my holiday activities in light of the true spirit of Christmas
5. To initiate one act of peacemaking within my circle of family and friends

The material presented here was taken from the book Unplug The Christmas Machine by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli published by William Morrow and Company, Inc.

Simplify Your Christmas, part 4

August 15, 2020

Children – What They Really Want

Christmas is for children. They add so much joy and excitement to the Christmas celebration. As we watch our children we remember forgotten childhood memories of Christmases long past. The magic of Christmas returns as we enjoy Christmas with our children. Children also give us a chance to examine our holiday activities, which ones to keep and which ones to drop, and start family traditions.

With all this joy children also bring added concerns. Children, it seems,
become preoccupied at an early age with receiving gifts. This preoccupation, along with the myriad commercial pressures, make it difficult for parents to create a simple, values-centered family Christmas. We’ll attempt here to alleviate these concerns.

We agree that children really don’t need all the toys and gifts they claim to
want. They don’t want them either as evidenced by their boredom hours after receiving the gifts. So what do children really want and need for Christmas?

Children need a relaxed, loving time with family. This means more to them than a tree loaded with gifts. Yet it is much more difficult to provide. With all the added work, planning the Christmas celebration, decorating the tree and the house, cleaning the house, and shopping for gifts, one of the first things to get pushed aside is spending time with the children, with the family. It is important for families to set firm priorities even if it means not participating in other activities. Each December I set aside one Saturday with my children for baking cookies and making fudge for Christmas giving and eating. I found that if I didn’t decide ahead of time which Saturday was baking day, we would lose that special time together.

Children need realistic expectations about gifts. Many children go through the toy catalog as soon as it arrives in the mail marking every toy they want. “I want that,” follows each toy commercial whether the child likes the toy or not. If the focus of a child’s Christmas is gifts, they experience a sharp let down when the gift giving is done. Parents need to get their children excited about other aspects of the Christmas celebration and spread that excitement throughout the entire season. Establishing value-centered family traditions help lessen the focus on gifts.

Instead of the fast-paced holiday season, children need a slower, evenly-paced season. In the 1800’s Christmas had a much shorter buildup time. Many people didn’t start preparing for Christmas until mid-December, but their celebration lasted for a week or more. Even as short as twenty years ago the Christmas season didn’t begin until the day after Thanksgiving. Now the preparing for Christmas begins before Halloween and the celebration ends midnight Christmas day. Consider holding off your traditions until a week or so before Christmas or doing one or two traditions a week between Thanksgiving and Christmas and continuing the celebration through New Year’s Day or Epiphany, January 6. Slow down the pace of your holiday season. Your children with thank you.

Children want to look forward to the same events happening every year. In my house, my children look forward to watching as many of our Christmas DVDs and videos as possible, baking cookies, including frosted sugar cookies, doing the advent calendars on the Garfield the cat and Customs of Christmas websites (www.garfield.com and http://www.customsofchristmas.com), tracking Santa on Norad’s Santa Tracker website (www.santatracker.com), and reading the Christmas story before opening gifts every year. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some things we do, but you get the idea. With these traditions that we’ve established, my children have the chance to do something they enjoy every year. Strong traditions give children a sense of comfort and security. They know that in an ever changing world these Christmas activities will always happen. These traditions don’t have to be elaborate. Simple activities will suffice. As you can see from my list, none of the activities are exacting. They don’t cost a lot of money. Ask your children what they would like to do to celebrate Christmas. They can help you know what traditions to keep and what traditions to eliminate, or at least do less often.

Children, they can add so much to the enjoyment of the Christmas season. They can also add many concerns. The exercises that follow will help you help your children enjoy Christmas this year and every year.

Exercise: Helping Children Enjoy Christmas

1. Of all the needs of children at Christmas, enjoyable time with their families is most important. Think back to last December. Excluding Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, did you spend (underline the correct word) more, about the same, or less happy, relaxed time with your children in December, compared to other months?

2. If your answer to the above question was “less,” look through the following list and check the suggestions on how to spend more time with your children that seem most feasible for you.
Taking extra time off from work
Simplifying our holiday preparations
Entertaining less
Attending fewer parties that are just for adults
Being more relaxed about how the house looks
Cutting back on outside commitments
Making fewer gifts
Watching less television
Traveling less
Seeing fewer friends and relatives
Other

3. Which holiday traditions do your children seem to enjoy most? (If you are
uncertain, take some time in the next few days to talk with them.)


4. What holiday traditions or family activities do your children have to look
forward to after December 25?


5. Check the statement that most accurately completes this thought: Gift-giving plays the following role in our family celebration:
It is by far the most important tradition.
It is one of several important traditions.
It is of moderate importance.
It is of relatively minor importance.

6. On a sheet of paper, write each of your children’s names and jot down a few sentences that describe his or her attitude toward Christmas presents last year.
(If one or more of your children seemed overly concerned with gifts, you may wish to review this [blog].

Suggestions to do after December 25:
Celebrate each of the twelve days of Christmas with simple activities geared
for children.
Create a family calendar for the month of December showing when things will be done.
Put together a puzzle or play games.
Put a container filled with candy or some other treat on the tree not to be
eaten until the tree is taken down.
Celebrate the new year with family games and activities.

The Christmas Pledge

Believing in the beauty and simplicity of Christmas, I commit myself to the following:
1. To remember those people who truly need my gifts
2. To express my love for family and friends in more direct ways than presents
3. To rededicate myself to the spiritual growth of my family
4. To examine my holiday activities in light of the true spirit of Christmas
5. To initiate one act of peacemaking within my circle of family and friends

The material presented here was taken from the book Unplug The Christmas Machine by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli published by William Morrow and Company, Inc.

Simplify Your Christmas, part 3

August 11, 2020

Men – the Christmas gopher

Many men just can’t get excited about Christmas. Their women wish they would. It’s not that they don’t enjoy the Christmas celebration, they do. They enjoy watching the children opening and playing with their gifts. They enjoy the good food and the atmosphere, but they still could take Christmas or leave it. On the other hand there are other men that really enjoy the Christmas season. They get into all the decorating, the shopping, and the planning involved in preparing for the Christmas celebration.

Why is this? Why is it that some men have such a hard time getting excited
about Christmas? Perhaps it’s because of the limited role they play in the
Christmas preparations. Sure they provide emotional and financial support.
Sure they help run errands. They make some suggestions and take
responsibility for a few parts of the Christmas celebration, but they’re less
involved in the preparations than the women are. Except for dragging out the decorations, getting the tree, and doing the heavy work the men do little to get things ready for Christmas. Because of this limited involvement it’s difficult for men to get excited about Christmas.

Another reason men have trouble getting excited about Christmas is that their wishes are less represented in the Christmas celebration. Women tend to rely on their own talents, tastes, and preferences instead of asking the men what they’d like. Christmas loses the familiar, comfortable aspects that men grew up with. It’s like breaking in a new pair of shoes. The comfort and familiarity of the old pair is rarely recaptured.

A third reason men aren’t as excited about Christmas is they feel like they’re
attending another’s party, observing another’s celebration. Because their
decision-making power is limited men feel they are a spectator to their wives production. Someone on the outside looking in.

The Christmas celebration is definitely not a spectator sport. The next few
exercises, taken from Unplug The Christmas Machine by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli, are designed to help men move from the spectator to the participant, from the gopher to a co-planner.

Exercise 1: Rating Your Enjoyment of Last Year’s Christmas Activities
1. Scan the list below and cross off the activities that you weren’t involved
in, adding those that we have overlooked.
Decorating the house
Decorating the tree
Shopping for gifts
Making gifts
Wrapping gifts
Entertaining
Going to parties
Going to Christmas performances
Christmas activities with your children
Christmas activities at work
Religious activities at home
Church activities
Gift-opening rituals
Charitable activities
Family Christmas gathering
Music
Other

2. Beside each of the remaining activities, assign a number from 1 to 10 that
shows how much you enjoyed doing it last year. A 10 shows the most pleasure.
Feel free to add comments.
3. Think about what, overall, gave you the greatest pleasure last Christmas.
4. Which activities or situations gave you the least pleasure?

Exercise 2: Remembering Your Childhood Christmas
1. Think back to your childhood Christmas. Which traditions, activities, or
occasions were particularly pleasurable for you?

2. Of these important childhood memories, which of them are reflected in your current celebration?

Exercise 3: An Exercise For Married Men – Your Role in Your Current Celebration
1. Which of the following statements most accurately reflects your role in your celebration?
A. My wife determines nearly all of the holiday events.
B. My wife determines more of the holiday events than I do.
C. We share the planning fifty-fifty.
D. My influence predominates.

2. How do you feel about this arrangement?

Exercise 4: Drawing Conclusions
1. From everything you know about yourself and Christmas, ideally, what changes would you like to make in the coming celebration? (For the moment, don’t take into consideration how realistic or unrealistic these changes may be.)

2. For married men: What do you most want your wife to know about how you feel about Christmas?

When you complete these exercises, be ready to discuss the results with your wife.

The Christmas Pledge

Believing in the beauty and simplicity of Christmas, I commit myself to the
following:
1. To remember those people who truly need my gifts
2. To express my love for family and friends in more direct ways than presents
3. To rededicate myself to the spiritual growth of my family
4. To examine my holiday activities in light of the true spirit of Christmas
5. To initiate one act of peacemaking within my circle of family and friends

The material presented here was taken from the book Unplug The Christmas Machine by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli published by William Morrow and Company, Inc.

Simplify your Christmas, part 2

July 31, 2020

Women – the Christmas logistician

In many homes across America, preparations for the Christmas celebration are carried out by the women. They decide what decorations go up, where the decorations go up, and when the decorations go up. And if they don’t have the decorations they want, they buy them or, better yet, make the decorations themselves. They plan the Christmas feast. They spend long hours shopping for just the right gift for everyone on the Christmas list. They clean the house and prepare the guest room for the Christmas family get together. They help with the church Christmas program and prepare for the neighborhood Christmas party. Sound busy yet? When you add all this extra work to the busyness of the everyday job and housework, it’s no wonder many women feel so stressed out and tired at Christmas. They feel tired and yet happy too. They love making Christmas special for their loved ones and gladly make the sacrifice.

What women don’t realize is that this added stress and busyness of the Christmas season builds up and can burn them out. Christmas becomes a chore, no longer enjoyable. They dread each Christmas season and can’t wait until it’s over.

Women have a great capacity to love. Into each facet of the Christmas celebration they add their special touch of love, Many pour so much love and concern into the celebration and into their families who don’t always show appreciation for what they do that they figure why bother. Just like
rechargeable batteries need to be recharged when they run down women need their love batteries recharged, something many women don’t take time to have done.

Some women strive to give their families the perfect Christmas. They scour the Christmas magazines in store checkout lanes looking for the perfect theme for decorating their house. Or they remember childhood Christmases and try to reproduce them. Or they come up with their own ideal Christmas and try to come as close to that ideal as they possibly can. And each year their anxiety level climbs as they look around and feel that all their efforts fall short of what Christmas should be.

Following this are some exercises that each woman should complete to discover what, if any, changes should be made to make Christmas more enjoyable for the family and less stressful overall. These exercises are taken from the book Unplug The Christmas Machine by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli.

Exercise 1: Life-style Inventory
Many women overestimate the time they have available for holiday projects. Take the following life-style inventory to get a sense of how busy you are before you add on the responsibilities of Christmas.

1. Check all the following statements that are true for you:
I’m employed full-time.
I’m employed part-time.
I have young children who are not yet in school or daycare.
I have children in school or daycare.
I’m a student.
I’m a single parent.
I have extended-family obligations.
I am primarily responsible for managing the household.
I have the following additional commitments:
Church
School
Volunteer work (boards, charities, committees, etc.)
Children’s activities
Classes
Other
2. As a general rule I can count on _____ hours of free time a day.
3. I usually spend those unscheduled hours in the following ways:



4. To find time to prepare for Christmas I usually take time from:




Exercise 2: Examining the Work of Christmas
This exercise will help you gain a more objective view of all the holiday
responsibilities you may be adding to your everyday schedule.

1. Look at the following list of typical holiday responsibilities and place a
check by the ones that you were primarily responsible for last year.
Making up a gift list Getting the tree
Christmas shopping Decorating the tree
Making gifts Outside decorations
Wrapping gifts Hosting parties
Mailing gifts Preparing company meals
Writing cards Helping with school activities
Making cards Planning family gatherings
Helping out at church Making Christmas dinner
Holiday baking Extra grocery shopping
Home decorations Making travel arrangements
Sewing clothes Packing
Special holiday cleaning Preparing for houseguests
Advent preparations Other

2. Add any tasks that we have overlooked.
3. Spend some time remembering how you felt last Christmas as you were doing each of the chores that you checked. Put a star by the ones that you actually enjoyed.
4. Take a piece of paper and write down the tasks from the above list that you did not enjoy doing last year. Beside each one, write down a few words that describe the reason(s) for your dissatisfaction. Here are some common reasons:
Not enough time
Not enough money
Not enough family support
Not enough help
Don’t enjoy this kind of activity
Don’t value this kind of activity
My performance didn’t measure up to my expectations
Wasn’t creative enough

Completing these exercises should give you a better idea of how much time you have available for holiday projects, how much you attempt to do each Christmas, and how you feel about those tasks.

The Christmas Pledge

Believing in the beauty and simplicity of Christmas, I commit myself to the
following:
1. To remember those people who truly need my gifts
2. To express my love for family and friends in more direct ways than presents
3. To rededicate myself to the spiritual growth of my family
4. To examine my holiday activities in light of the true spirit of Christmas
5. To initiate one act of peacemaking within my circle of family and friends

The material presented here was taken from the book Unplug The Christmas Machine by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli published by William Morrow and Company, Inc.

Simplify your Christmas

July 25, 2020

I have heard a number of people express concern over what Christmas will look like with everything that is going on this year. Perhaps this is a good time to re-evaluate what we do for Christmas and what our expectations for Christmas are. This series of 9 blogs will help you examine the way you currently celebrate Christmas and help you make this year’s Christmas celebration all you want it to be.

How to have the Christmas you’ve always wanted – part 1

How was your Christmas? Was it all that you wanted it to be, happy and fulfilled surrounded by a loving, supporting family? Or was it a stressful chore that you don’t look forward to repeating next Christmas? For many Christmas doesn’t live up to the joy it promises. People spend more than they can afford, sometimes much more, on gifts, food, and decor. They take on more responsibility than they can handle with parties, programs, daily work, and the Christmas celebration itself. They also spend less time relaxing with their families. Shopping for gifts, baking, decorating, and making Christmas crafts take up all available time. It’s no wonder that Christmas is so stressful and busy for so many.

Americans are obsessed with Christmas. News mediums report on community Christmas celebrations. Business reports and business magazines tell how Christmas is affecting sales. Newspapers give homemakers practical advice on hosting the “perfect” Christmas celebration. Women’s magazines strive to have the best Christmas issue ever with page upon page of crafts, recipes, and ideas for decorating the house. Even talk shows get into the act inviting psychologists to diagnose and prescribe treatment for everyone who suffers from the “Christmas Blues.” This shallow obsession robs the Christmas holiday of much of the joy many expect to experience at Christmas.

How can we fix this problem and make Christmas a more meaningful and joyful celebration? To answer this question we need to consider three questions. What’s it like, for each family member, to go through the holiday season? What’s the root off people’s problems with Christmas? How can we restore the simplicity and beauty to the Christmas celebration?

Christmas is very different now than it was a hundred or more years ago. In the 1800’s, preparations for the Christmas celebration didn’t start until mid-December and the celebration lasted for several days. Now people are buying and planning the Christmas celebration months in advance for a celebration that lasts only one day. Family, community, and religious traditions have been replaced with passive, money-making events where people get into the “Christmas spirit” by enjoying the work of others. The family celebration hasn’t escaped either. It has become an elaborate, expensive production where the crafty decorations found in the latest Christmas issue rule and time for families to relax and enjoy each other suffers.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be exploring the answers to the above questions. We’ll look at how Christmas preparations affect each member of the family. We’ll examine the traditional Christmas homecoming. We’ll also look at what we do to celebrate Christmas and how we can make our celebrations more meaningful and less stressful.

The Christmas Pledge
Believing in the beauty and simplicity of Christmas, I commit myself to the
following:
1. To remember those people who truly need my gifts
2. To express my love for family and friends in more direct ways than presents
3. To rededicate myself to the spiritual growth of my family
4. To examine my holiday activities in light of the true spirit of Christmas
5. To initiate one act of peacemaking within my circle of family and friends


The material presented here was taken from the book Unplug The Christmas Machine by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli published by William Morrow and Company, Inc.

Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2013

How time flies!  I usually try to get in two or three extra posts between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but this year time just flew past.  I just finished posting a series of blogs on how to simplify your Christmas or how to make it more meaningful for you.  Therefore, I thought I’d give a simple Christmas message and recount the Christmas story.

Luke 2 (NKJV)

2 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

Matthew 2 (NKJV)

2 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:

‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”

When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

12 Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.

Have a merry Christmas and a happy new year!

 

 

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