I come from a family that isn’t super fond of Christmas in general. If you ask my three siblings, they’ll tell you we’re all a little bah humbug about it. The season often feels a bit too hyped up and materialistic and stressful. There are so many expectations of presents and presence all around that sometimes nixing the whole thing sounds pleasant.

But then I had kids. And the joy that small children experience around Christmas is overwhelming in the best ways. They’re ecstatic at the first snow fall. And truly in awe of twinkly lights. The first time my daughter laid down under the Christmas tree, I knew I needed to get a better attitude about Christmas.

So I got intentional about it and now I have to say, in the spirit of Advent, there is a true longing and waiting in my heart to reach Christmas Day. I enjoy the entire Christmas season more than before and I absolutely love Christmas Day.

I’m a firm believer in waiting until after Thanksgiving for Christmas music and decorations (my rebel kids sing Jingle Bells all year long just to annoy me which they think is hilarious – and it kind of is). And I’ve written before about how we wake up Christmas morning in our own beds.

When we were first married we spent time with our families of origin on Christmas Eve and Day, but after traveling 950 miles from Massachusetts to Michigan over our daughter’s first Christmas, we decided to do things differently.

So when we lived in Massachusetts and then in Alabama, we simply didn’t celebrate Christmas with our extended families. We would send cards and maybe Skype, but we visited Michigan during less crazy seasons. Now that we’re back in Michigan (yay!), we celebrate Christmas with both sides of the family before or after Christmas. Since we’re not trying to fit everything in over actual Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, it’s more relaxing (in the midst of some delightful chaos) and we can spend more time with both sides of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

My husband is a pastor which means he’s at church for several services each Christmas Eve. So the kids and I attend one and help out with kid’s ministry during the last one. And then we all head home and do our Advent reading from the The Jesus Storybook Bible and crawl into bed.

On Christmas morning we wake up and light the Christ candle and read the Christmas story. We open a few presents and drink hot chocolate and eat all the convenience foods we only indulge in once a year. There’s no ham or turkey or mashed potatoes or cooking. Unless you count warming up the gluten free mozzarella sticks I crave all year, but only get this one day each year.

We play board games and with new presents. We bundle up and head out into snow. Last year it was so warm we put on sweatshirts and tennis shoes and went to the park.

Oftentimes when I tell people this is what we do for Christmas, they look at me a little funny. Some ask what our families think. Some say this is their ideal, but they could never do it. Others would find it lonely and sad and lacking in a large chunk of meat. And by no means do I think everyone should do Christmas our way. Nor do I think we’ll always do it this way. Because life changes.

But for now and for us, Christmas is a day of celebration and true rest. There is no rush. It’s a day of simple expectations and a time to show our kids how much God, and we, love to be with them.

How do you celebrate Christmas?

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