Christmas, Simplified

When Agent E was about three and a half we watched a children’s Christmas special {I do not recall which one} that really pushed the whole “be good, Santa’s watching you, yay presents, reindeer fly around the world in one night” narrative. When it was over, she turned to me and scoffed, “That doesn’t really happen, does it? It’s all pretend, right? That can’t happen.” 

A skeptic from the get-go, that one.

So needless to say, we never did the Santa thing with the Agents. It just seemed like a lot of unnecessary work to be honest. We treat Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, etc. the same as any other myths. They know they’re just stories that some people have fun with—but we choose not to. It’s not really a big deal to them.

Small craft project snowman sitting against a background of blurred snow.

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From the beginning we have chosen to simplify Christmas with our kids and it has worked out fine. I am here to tell you that you, too, can simplify Christmas. And it will turn out fine.

Truthfully I think the whole idea of “the holidays” has taken on a life of its own—and not in a good way. Social media in particular has drawn us into a vortex of blog posts and advertisements and Pinterest projects. We have forgotten that not participating is an option. 

But here’s the thing: You can forget about many of the extras you usually stress about this time of year and nothing bad will happen. The world will keep spinning and your kids will still be in awe and excited and joyful.

If you have been overwhelmed by many a holiday season, don’t try to change everything all at once. Think about the areas where you usually overindulge, and pick one or two to cut back on. Maybe this year you commit to a more reined in budget for gifts. Maybe you don’t have to make all homemade cookies. Maybe you leave a few decorations in storage. Start small and I guarantee you will not miss the excess.

So You Just Have No Christmas Cheer At All?

Ha, no. We just don’t get riled up about making things perfect or pleasing other people and we are totally chill with that.

It’s not that I personally grew up with no traditions; I did. We always had lots of gifts—from “Santa” of course—and tons of cookies and relatives visiting. On Christmas day we went to both grandmothers’ houses {one died when I was six, but I still remember that being our first stop}. Over the course of the week between Christmas and New Year’s we would have visitors almost every evening. They would ooh and aah at our presents and eat and chat. 

I guess I just never felt the need or the pressure to make this time of year “magical” for my own kids, because to them Christmas is just a fun celebration not worth getting too jazzy over. If they want magic, we go to Disney, LOL. 

Our nonchalance is probably also affected by the fact that we have rarely been living near family since the kids were born, so we cannot be sucked in to the holiday spiral of doing all the things because of preconceived expectations.

Truthfully, we do not really do anything special this time of year, and we are okay with that. Even when I still considered myself to be a Christian we did little more than attend a simple Christmas eve service and add a small nativity scene to our meager decorations.

We still like Christmas. We still celebrate Christmas. We just don’t let Christmas rule our lives for the last quarter of the year. 

{Don’t even get me started on Thanksgiving.}

But What DO You Do This Time of Year?

We put up a tree, sometimes two {a “regular” tree and a small tabletop one in the front room or one of the bedrooms}. The rest of our decor is pretty minimal. We might make cookies at some point. Oh, and stop at Bath and Body Works to pick up fancy soaps so the sinks smell like peppermint or vanilla. We still buy presents for the Agents. But they know they are all from us. And they often pick them out themselves. 

It probably goes without saying that no creepy elves grace our home.

During December we often read about various mythologies, both religious and non-religious. A Solstice Tree for Jenny is one of our favorite books that approaches the holiday season from a secular perspective. We also enjoy The Winter Solstice by Ellen Jackson. 

Of course, we’ll re-read the story of Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus as well. Agent J has never been impressed with the wise men and their choice of gifts. {She suggested they could have brought something useful, like some diapers or a nice meatloaf.}

We like to look into the history of the celebrations as well, and how they have changed over time. Two videos we enjoy watching are Adam Ruins Everything: The Drunken, Pagan History of Christmas and this one put together by Seth Andrews  {aka, The Thinking Atheist}.

Christmas eve we go to the movies and then get donuts. Then come home and open presents. And eat more donuts.

Are we doing it right?

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This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. I love your way of enjoying the holidays.

    1. Valerie

      Thank you, Cherie. I’m glad you stopped by.

    2. One should celebrate in their own, shouldn’t be stick to rules . Yes you are doing it right.

      1. Valerie

        Thank you for stopping by, Mittali.

  2. This is great! I want to teach our kids to not be so stressed over making things perfect and just enjoy them

    1. Valerie

      Definitely an admirable goal. Thanks for stopping by, Jen.

  3. You’re right, the holiday season can seem like the time of year to cram in as much stuff, and gifts, and everything that you think you need to be doing for it to be meaningful. This is a nice way to really enjoy this time of year.

    1. Valerie

      Thank you for your kinds words. Glad you stopped by.

  4. Here in India, specially in my family we celebrate all festivals with great joy, my girls eagerly wait for Santa, for obvious reasons…😅😅 Loved reading your post..Keep shining

    1. Valerie

      Thank you, Shivali. Enjoy celebrating!

  5. Wow! Such a good read <3

    1. Valerie

      Thank you for stopping by, Manahil.

  6. An excellent read and great way to enjoy the holidays with the family.

  7. Christmas should a shopping spree and it’s far too much a means for a business to make money and commercialized. To me, Christmas should be CHRIST.

  8. Valerie

    If the Jesus narrative is your jam, then I hope you enjoy the holiday season by focusing on what is important to you and your family.

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