Our Real-Life, Not-So-Pinterest-Worthy, Christmas Celebration

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It’s been a little quiet around Faith Passed Down lately. I published a guide to a meaningful Thanksgiving in mid-November, but since then, our house has been a little crazy.

We’re joyously expecting twins (!!!) and I’ve been dealing with your typical morning all-day sickness, a bit worse than in my previous pregnancies, which I hear is common for twins.

I am trying so hard not to complain, because I personally know several women (plus Princess Kate, who I feel like I know!) who have suffered from truly debilitating, hospitalizing pregnancy sickness… and that certainly hasn’t been the case for me!

But, it’s still been an adjustment to our typical life, and I have felt pretty stretched thin.

My definition of “tidying up” has changed to “maybe if I’m lucky I pick up a few of the Cheerios off the carpet before the baby eats them.”

Rather than checking items off my to-do list each day, I’ve been glancing at my calendar about once a week, only to notice that I’ve missed things like “library books due” and “Ava’s Baptism Birthday.”

All that to say, this Advent/Christmas season has not been “Pinterest-perfect” in our home. In fact, until I went to take some pictures for this series, I don’t think I had photographed a single part of our house so far this month, because there hasn’t been much to share!

There has been no daily holiday activity, no homeschool Christmas crafts, and certainly no wandering elf!

Though Christmas is over, I wanted to spend some time reflecting on this year’s Christmas in “survival mode,” in the hopes that it might encourage some of you whose Christmas seasons looked similar.

Celebrating Christmas when Life Is Harder than Usual

Even if you’re not dealing with morning sickness, perhaps you’re in a similar situation – maybe an extra-busy season at work, a child with special needs, a period of colds or flu in your home, a newborn, a parent or grandparent with a terminal illness, a home remodel – has made your holiday season busier, or more overwhelming, or has resulted in a pile of unmet expectations.

Over the next couple days I’d like to share some of the specifics behind our Advent/Christmas season in less than ideal circumstances.

I hope this might offer you:

  • comfort and encouragement (maybe you’ll be reassured to think, “Hey, at least we’re doing more than she is!”)
  • ideas for thinking outside the box regarding how to celebrate Christmas.
  • permission to cut back your holiday expectations for future years.

low key Christmas

It can be so easy to pile up a list of expectations and hopes for the holidays.

We might think of our own childhood traditions and want to do every single one.

Then we look at our community’s fun calendar of events, or write down all the activities for our church/school/work/club. (Am I the only one who always thinks the local rec center/library activities sound like so much fun? I am so lured by the promise of “refreshments!”)

After that, of course, a quick internet perusal gives us ten more ideas to add to our mental (or written!) Christmastime to-do list!

This year, however, I’ve just been trying to do enough laundry that I have relatively clean clothes pajamas to wear each day, along with keeping my one-year-old from putting choking hazards in her mouth.

With those kind of lofty expectations, there has been little room for elaborate Christmas goals.

Things We Have Not Done This Christmas Season

I’m not saying I’m super proud of all these things – we would have loved to attend midweek church services or participated in a service project, and I wish we would have sent Christmas cards. But, here’s the reality!

  • We never took family photos.
  • We never sent Christmas cards.
  • We attended only one holiday party, skipping several others, including a MOPS craft day and a fun event at our vision therapist’s office.  We even sadly missed my husband’s work party (though instead we went to the doctor and found out we were having twins!)
  • We made just one homemade gift total, though I originally planned to have my girls make something for each family member.
  • We did not decorate gingerbread houses.
  • We did not attend any midweek church Advent services.
  • We did not make homemade wrapping paper even though I knew my 3-year-old would love painting it (and we have all the supplies!!)
  • We did not purchase or make any gifts for our own kids. (We did wrap up a few gifts from our own childhood plus a few toys I had bought on sale long ago).
  • My husband and I did not purchase/make/give any gifts to each other.
  • Despite all the darling ideas online, we did not purchase or make any Christmas countdowns (Advent calendars). We did use a simple chocolate countdown my mom got for us.
  • We did not put up any outdoor Christmas decorations/lights, even though I would love for us to proclaim Christ to our neighbors.
  • We did not decorate a real Christmas tree – just a tiny two-foot one my daughter decorated.
  • We did not put up much Christmas decor inside our home. We stuck stockings on the wall with 3M hooks (we’re talking high class here!) and hung a couple ornaments/wooden wreaths on the wall. We have an Advent wreath on our kitchen table.
  • There are several doctors and helpers in our lives (for example, the library storytime leaders and some babysitters we use at MOPS) that I would have loved to give gifts to.  It just never happened.
  • We did not do any service projects (beyond Operation Christmas Child, which was completed in November). In fact, we were even initially signed up to provide several dozen homemade cookies to a veterans’ dinner, and I was so relieved when someone else offered to provide pumpkin pies instead, so we were off the hook until another dinner in the spring.
  • We have not made hot cocoa or eaten candy canes.
  • We have hardly listened to any Christmas music.
  • I had hoped to read a personal daily Advent devotional, but I never got started.
  • I just love the wonderful Advent resources Truth in the Tinsel and Unwrapping the Greatest Gift, but we never did either one.
  • We never intentionally viewed Christmas lights.
  • We never did our family Christmas program, a time when we typically sing carols and act out the Christmas story.
  • We never had a “Happy Birthday, Jesus” party (beyond singing the “Happy Birthday” song on Christmas Day.)

Tomorrow I’ll be sharing what we did do for Christmas, because, despite all that we didn’t do, we ended up having a lovely holiday celebration. I’ll also share a few tips I’ve picked up along the way.

“But I Like To Go ‘All Out’ for Christmas!”

If you are someone who did do a lot of these things, good for you! Truly – I am excited that you were able to have a joyous holiday season, and please don’t let this post make you feel otherwise!

I have friends and family members with beautifully decorated trees, delightful Christmas countdowns, and all kinds of fun enjoying the season and delighting in our Savior and King. I’ve been able to enjoy viewing these beautiful trees and eating delicious cookies at their homes, and I’m so grateful!

I’m not overly sentimental about Christmas, so things like a beautifully decorated tree, baking traditional cookies, or observing many traditions are not important to me (or my husband. Nor were they practical to us in this particular phase of life.

Just please know that I’m not intending to cast judgment on what you have done… rather, reassure you in case you haven’t done these things!

**Leave a comment below: What are some things you did not do this Christmas season? Are you sad? Relieved?