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SamanthaCarter

How do you get enthusiastic about Christmas...

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Is there something negative about it that brings you down? Really I think it’s too early to get excited for Christmas before thanksgiving.

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Christmas music (after Thanksgiving for me) Preferably older songs. "Grandma got run over by a reindeer" doesn't do it.

Reading the Christmas story. I also have a book called "Christmas Treasures" which is a collection of Christmas stories.

Attending concerts or cantatas.

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I totally get it-I'm the one going around saying "Didn't we just do this?"

I do find that listening to Christmas music and decorating the house helps me be less of a Scrooge. My family has a low key Christmas and that's fine with me. My parents and sisters stopped exchanging gifts many years ago, because all we were doing was trading money back and forth. Now we just enjoy being together.

 

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Oh yes, thought of something else. I have four books called Christmas in my Heart, I think. They are a collection of old Christmas stories. I always try to read some in one of them.

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I try to emphasize the parts of Christmas that I like, and reduce (or prep for) the parts I dislike.
And watch Charlie Brown's Christmas.  😉

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Zeroing in on why I’m having trouble getting excited can help me address any problems that need (or can be) addressed.  

Focusing on non-gift ideas to celebrate really helps me:  volunteering, family secret service santa, driving around to look at lights, making ornaments or decorations, spend time outdoors with your friends and family, make & share cookies or other treats.  Avoiding malls and stores, and commercial hype also helps!!

Christmas as celebrated in this country can turn into a gigantic commercial nightmare which can be really depressing.   I really work hard to ignore that garbage and focus on the Three F’s which really give me joy:  My Faith, my Family, and my Friends.

Anne

 

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I rarely get in the mood for Christmas until around December 15. Till then, I fake it.  One of my kids love Christmas decorating and baking and all that, so I do that with her. 

I read Christian Advent-related books/readings (such as Tim Keller's Hidden Christmas), and have read some light-hearted cozy mysteries set during Christmas (such as G Heyer's A Christmas Party) and am scouring the library for more now.  Those ideas may or may not appeal to you or help you, I know. 

By your comment about $0 I assume you haven't money to spend on gifts. We are there too. Our kids are older, and in college, so they understand pretty well.  Used bookstores/sites are my best friends right now. 

I hope some of the ideas people post here are helpful to you!  I'm listening in too.

 

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You start by not pressuring yourself into feeling like you should be excited for Christmas before it’s even Thanksgiving or feeling like you have to have the holiday together the day after Thanksgiving.

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28 minutes ago, Farrar said:

You start by not pressuring yourself into feeling like you should be excited for Christmas before it’s even Thanksgiving or feeling like you have to have the holiday together the day after Thanksgiving.

You totally pegged me. I’m succumbing to the “Thanksgiving is late this year! Prepare now or you won’t have time to make it special for your family!” irrationality. But it’s true, in a way, advent starts three days later. That’s in two weeks. 

Plus I have a history of feeling like Christmas is just an added load on the mama. 

Edited by SamanthaCarter
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I think about the parts of past-Christmas celebrations that I have really loved. Then I find ways to make the current celebration more like the ones in the past. 

I've also let go of a lot of "Shoulds" and "Have-tos" about Christmas.  Extended family can feel however they like about that. 

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Not $0, but my gateway drug for coming under the influence of the Christmas spirit is often coming up with a craft I want to make as a gift for someone. If that doesn't do it, then shopping for items to donate usually does.

Since I live here in tourist land, a potentially $0 option (if I can resist spending or eating while I'm there) is an evening wandering Disney Springs looking at the decorations. I like to go after dark so there are twinkly lights and temps are as crisp as they are going to get here in Florida.

I am, to put it mildly, not feeling the holidays this year, despite having already done a nice chunk of donation shopping and started multiple crafts-for-gifts projects. So, I actually just told my husband this afternoon that I need a Disney Springs trip on our next free evening.

Edited by Jenny in Florida
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Here's a $0 idea that I LOVED doing w/ little kids: I'd check out tons of Christmas books from the library. I'd wrap each one and put them under the tree. Every night the kids could each pick a Christmas book that we'd read.

I miss doing that so much.

Also, the kids loved driving around with cookies and hot chocolate and blankets -- just for atmosphere -- to look at the lights.

Alley

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52 minutes ago, SamanthaCarter said:

You totally pegged me. I’m succumbing to the “Thanksgiving is late this year! Prepare now or you won’t have time to make it special for your family!” irrationality. But it’s true, in a way, advent starts three days later. That’s in two weeks. 

Plus I have a history of feeling like Christmas is just an added load on the mama. 

It is... but I try to force myself to put it in a box until then. Advent is long. December is long. I don’t need to think about it until then.

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37 minutes ago, Alicia64 said:

Here's a $0 idea that I LOVED doing w/ little kids: I'd check out tons of Christmas books from the library. I'd wrap each one and put them under the tree. Every night the kids could each pick a Christmas book that we'd read.

I miss doing that so much.

Also, the kids loved driving around with cookies and hot chocolate and blankets -- just for atmosphere -- to look at the lights.

Alley

 

That book idea is brilliant.  

I get excited for Christmas because I live with my youngest child, who has been excited since he came downstairs on September 25 announcing that it was Jesus' 3/4 birthday!  It's really hard not to be excited with that kind of role model.  

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I clean the house. Usually what happens is life is a little too real, I'm behind, and everything feels uphill. So if you get your house company clean, then decorating is easy. 

Then turn up the music and have somebody else do the work. :biggrin:

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2 hours ago, SamanthaCarter said:

Plus I have a history of feeling like Christmas is just an added load on the mama. 

I feel you. For years, I struggled with Christmas - we are immigrants, and I got very homesick each Christmas and kept missing the Christmas traditions from my home country (worked so hard to recreate them without success.). At some point, I realized that there is no way to recreate the magical Christmasses of my childhood because I'm the MOM now and I'm the one who has to make the magic happen. I also realized that I was the one who had all these expectations, and the family couldn't have cared less about most of the stuff. So we pared down; I asked them what traditions were important to them, and we scaled down dramatically. Finally, I realized that I can totally do Christmas MY way and just do things I enjoy doing. That felt like a tremendous freedom. We hang out and eat well, enjoy each other's company and being together - without pressure to do Christmassy activities.

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17 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

I clean the house. Usually what happens is life is a little too real, I'm behind, and everything feels uphill. So if you get your house company clean, then decorating is easy. 

Then turn up the music and have somebody else do the work. :biggrin:


You and I are fundamentally different people.  The only thing that cleaning the house ever got me in the mood for was yelling at my children to stay outside with their muddy feet, and keep their crumby foods at the kitchen table.  

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On the Minimal Mom youtube channel, she's been discussing reasonable Christmas celebration. Here are 2 (one on budget, one on gift exchange).


One thing she said is that the kids love having time and attention from their parents.
This is free, but not "heavily marketed".  😉

And that a $1 gift can truly be heart-felt and meaningful.
(These youtubes include lots of related issues, just to give a STARTING point to thinking about our family's celebration, etc.)
This may not resonate with you---but it's a way to re-think what we do to prep for Christmas.

 

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I’ve often wondered why it was the shepherds who heard the angels sing. Maybe it’s because they were quiet enough to hear them, still enough to listen.  

Maybe we aren’t supposed to get all excited, but to be still...”Oh rest beside the weary road, and hear the angels sing.”
 

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Christmas music.  Also, participate in a Christmas charity or two.  This past week I was working on Operation Christmas Child, which was a great way to get into the Christmas spirit.  A giving tree or similar can get be inspiring also.

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6 hours ago, fairfarmhand said:

Is there something negative about it that brings you down? Really I think it’s too early to get excited for Christmas before thanksgiving.

 

Agree! I don’t expect anyone to artificially crank it up before mid December! (I mean, as opposed to actually feeling it.)

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I do agree that there is no reason to fuss about it before Thanksgiving, unless you want to.  🙂

But back to ideas ... looking for things to do during the season and buying tickets ... examples - Nutcracker ballet, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, a Polar Express train ride ....

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Dh and I were just discussing this.  Halloween is our big holiday, usually.  This year, though?  Meh.  We barely went through the motions.  We wanted to figure out the problem before we start the Christmas season on Dec. 1st.
I think I figured out the root of it.  So many of our things are not our things anymore.  There are no close events like a pumpkin patch or haunted house.  We don't have any real traditions here yet.  We didn't even have a Halloween store to poke around in.  It just felt.........meh.
For Christmas, I'm filling our advent calendar with intentional events: baking, watching a movie together, going to see the town Christmas tree, creating snowflakes...it's something I did when the youngest was a preschooler but we got away from it.  And since our calendar is daily hung ornaments, I can pick the best option from the list the night ahead of time and not worry that it's going to be an absurd mismatch with our schedules.

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10 hours ago, regentrude said:

I feel you. For years, I struggled with Christmas - we are immigrants, and I got very homesick each Christmas and kept missing the Christmas traditions from my home country (worked so hard to recreate them without success.). At some point, I realized that there is no way to recreate the magical Christmasses of my childhood because I'm the MOM now and I'm the one who has to make the magic happen. I also realized that I was the one who had all these expectations, and the family couldn't have cared less about most of the stuff. So we pared down; I asked them what traditions were important to them, and we scaled down dramatically. Finally, I realized that I can totally do Christmas MY way and just do things I enjoy doing. That felt like a tremendous freedom. We hang out and eat well, enjoy each other's company and being together - without pressure to do Christmassy activities.

That's an excellent way to put it. I too tried hard to recreate my wonderful childhood Christmases but my kids just never got into Christmas the way I did. I'm 51 years old now and my youngest child is 21 years old and she told me a couple of weeks ago that I needed to totally let go this season because my expectations were ruining her Christmases. She has no love for Christmas because of how hard I always tried. She also tried to tell me that last year but I went ahead and did things my way and it all fell flat. So this year, I'm not even going to try gift giving to anyone. The kids get the money they want just as a way for me to help them out a little. I don't think of it as a Christmas gift. And my decorating will be because it's what *I* like. I'll decorate the mantel and put the tree up. I'm buying new ornaments for this year and will put them on myself. I'll leave the box of the sentimental ornaments under the tree. If the kids get a hankering to go through them, they can have at it. I'm not forcing anything. I'll have a decorated tree even if it's only decorated with the new ornaments I buy. Christmas dinner will be pasta and homemade bread. I'll probably buy a cake at our favorite grocery store bakery. This year is going to be extremely laid back. My childhood memories are mine and I'll probably journal about them this season as a way to relive them. I'm just sorry my kids never got into Christmas the way I did. Personally, I think they've cheapened it. I don't even know if my church has a Christmas day worship celebration but I'm hoping they do because that will mean a lot more to me than just putting up a tree. 

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9 hours ago, Patty Joanna said:

I’ve often wondered why it was the shepherds who heard the angels sing. Maybe it’s because they were quiet enough to hear them, still enough to listen.  

Maybe we aren’t supposed to get all excited, but to be still...”Oh rest beside the weary road, and hear the angels sing.”
 

This really speaks to me! I think you may be on to something. Perhaps, we should just "be still" and quiet. And just listen. Hmm. 
Thanks for that insight!

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Just to clarify: I do not have any expectations of being enthusiastic about Christmas this early. I just know that I'll need to be prepared so that when I'm not feeling enthusiastic, I have some sort of plan. I think that plan should include not having to come up with some half baked ideas on observing Christmas at the last minute. 

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear is my favorite carol for the lyrics. So thank you for the reminder, Patty Joanna. That helps me a lot. ❤️

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So most years i dread Christmas. So I’d procrastinate the stuff I didn’t like doing—shopping for extended family that I don’t know well hacks me off. (Obligatory giving is frustrating) however...it’s my dhs family and it’s not going away. And my dh won’t rock that boat. I dislike decorating the Christmas tree. 

Anyway last year I made it a point to NOT procrastinate the stuff I disliked. And amazingly having most of it out of the way early in the season helped my attitude. I still had to go visit extended family which can be a hassle, but that is what it is. 

Anyway for me, I know that each year will bring some not so fun tings and I just need to get over it and get them done, rather than continuing to grumble over it.

 

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14 hours ago, Farrar said:

You start by not pressuring yourself into feeling like you should be excited for Christmas before it’s even Thanksgiving or feeling like you have to have the holiday together the day after Thanksgiving.

Exactly.  

I am annoyed by my one daughter who has been nagging everyone for Christmas lists.  For one thing, with me, she could look at last years since no one seemed to do that.  i am kind of super annoyed with the gift giving thing because my dh doesn't give me a list, doesn't update his Amazon so I have no idea what to buy,  buys it himself and then decides what to get me based on his ideas about what we need for the house, not mine.  Like I do not want more knives.  I want clothes, I want music, I want books, and from him, I want a set of home air cleaners so my asthma is better.

But like others mentioned, Advent (and I am getting an advent wreath for the house this year), music offerings (at least in my city, there are plenty of free ones), Christmas light displays (lots of people have nice decorations), but I cannot get enthusiastic about decorating fully until later Dec. 

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I love Christmas because I love to cook and bake. That's my time to go crazy. 🙂 As a family we are not gift giving / receiving kind of people. My thirteen years old son told me that he does not want anything for Christmas, and that made my life easier. 😄 I usually knit or crochet something for my family and friends. Those gifts are not secret because they can see them when I am working on them. I have no desire to hide my knitting project and then find out that it does not fit. 

During the Christmas time we take time to reflect on year that is coming to the end. We love to write a "Memory Letter" where we write everything that we liked that year. Each family member writes few sentences and we save that letter and read it later. We add few printed photos in the envelope with letter. It's cool to see my sons face when he opens old letters and sees for example his photos from when he was three years old, and reads that he loved his mom (me) more than macaroni and cheese. 😄

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Step 1: Move far away from my zillion extended relatives and in-laws, many of whom are very difficult, with their 4 celebrations in 2 days every year.

Step 2: Celebrate Christmas with my adult children, their spouses, my minor child and my spouse. Small and low key.

Step 3: Tell them I will attend the Christmas Eve service, so they'll have to schedule around that. (I really love a Christmas Eve service now that I'm not in the music department anymore.)

Step 4: Get an air bnb when we go back to visit either in early December or early January when people aren't stressed from holiday busyness. 

It's so much more enjoyable now.

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Nothing like hearing Handel's Messiah to get me in the mood. I'm fortunate that the first local performances aren't until early December. 

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I’m liking those puppy under Christmas tree pictures!

usually it has been baking...  especially winter pies.   But now as I’m gluten free , I don’t know.  Maybe I’ll seek gf variations. 

making candle gifts was a thing for a long time, but came to an end as homeschooling came to an end

guess i need some new traditions!

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I used to love all the Christmas hullabaloo. Then we lived overseas for years. At first, it was really hard and I missed the over-the-top celebrations. Then we developed quieter, more simple celebrations. Over the years, that became the preference. So now, when I feel melancholy at Christmas, I try to concentrate on simplifying: nice music, candles, reading or doing crafts (instead of being on my computer 😉like I am now). That helps me be reflective and focus on real meaning. 

As to the mom thing--I grew up with my mom baking mountains of cookies during December, in part due to all the parties, I guess. I might bake some cookies, but usually only bake one main cookie bar we all like for Christmas Eve. For Christmas Eve dinner, instead of fifty-jillion dishes, we have lasagna, salad, homemade bread, and for dessert, ice cream and the aforementioned cookie bar. On Christmas Day, we have leftovers and a lazy, relaxed day. Those kinds of simplifying help me not get all stressed because I have tons of work to do. It's still something special that I don't usually cook, but doesn't take lots of extra time. 

I'm still not sure how to eliminate a lot of the get-togethers that require food, and therefore preparation. I enjoy them, but the busyness plus the extra expense at a time our budget is stretched thin anyway is hard for me to handle. So yeah, still working on that part.

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