Years ago, Mr. B and I decided we wanted nothing to do with stress or debt when it came to Christmas.
And that's the wonderful thing about being a grown-up, isn't it? We get to create our own traditions and preserve the ones we love best from our childhoods. We chose simple and enjoyable with an accent on time together.
So this was the "recipe" we concocted:
1. No going into debt. I enjoy making beaded jewelry and keeping the price affordable. So for years, November was full of beading, and all 3 kids and Mr. B helped me tag and package my creations for sale. Whatever we sold by Dec 20 or so was what we had to work with for gifts. We divvied up the proceeds so everyone had funds for shopping. And off we'd go to find what was the . . .
2. Lists. I didn't grow up making lists (except for Santa), so this at first seemed a little uncouth to me. But it ended up being delightful. Everyone wrote a list of wishes, and each year they grew more outrageous and funny. But they always included affordable items and everyone got at least one thing on their list!
3. Chinese takeout. We LOVE our neighborhood Chinese restaurant, The Great Wall, so rather than cook an elaborate meal, we all agreed that we'd order anything and everything we wanted for Christmas Eve (which provided nice leftovers for Christmas Day, too). We properly set the table, then it covered in cartons. We we left the table happy and with fewer dishes to do!
4. Hugs and presents. And then the fun began. For several years, we played Christmas Family Jeopardy to decide who would open the first gift. EarthDoctor son cleverly crafted the answers. And PreciousGrrrl Child always managed to win. One by one, we took turns opening and thanking the giver with a hug. EarthDoctor son also had a penchant for crazy wrapping adventures. So we either had to go on a scavenger hunt to find his gift or open package after package to get down the goods.
5. Midnight mass. For years we attended a sweet mass at a lovely little church known for its work with the homeless and poor. The church had squeaky wooden floors, simple decor, and an abundance of good will. The choir, including two tiny elderly women who did not stand, never failed to wow us with their wonderful carols. And we each tied a prayer ribbon on bare Christmas trees and sang the Halelluja Chorus in the end. And then we headed home exhausted and aglow.
It's been a wonderful tradition for many years--and the times they are a'changin', as well they should. Our family has not officially expanded to include husbands, wives, or partners. But it can't be too far off. And come what may, these last days of December, I hope, will always be filled with love of family, merriment, and deep-in-the-bones knowledge that home is what you make of it, be it ever some humble.