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Simplified Christmas

Last week, I talked about the fact that we're paring down our holiday festivities this year, and a few weeks back I shared how we planned to simplify Thanksgiving this year. So, today I though I'd chat about what we ARE doing to celebrate our holiday. After all, what's Christmas (or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or Winter Solstice...) without SOME form of tradition? simplified_christmas There's a lot that we simply aren't doing this year, with a newborn and super active toddler in tow. Given that our little peanut, Harper, is just around 3 weeks and this is a super germ-filled time of year, we're being those paranoid parents and sticking close to home with her, for the most part. So, most of our shopping was done well before she came along or online, and we're skipping some of our admittedly favorite activities: namely, our annual schlep to a living history holiday celebration called Candlelight Evening, featuring THE St. Nicholas. (Yes. The REAL one! ;-)) The baby and I are even skipping my husband's annual reading of "The Polar Express" at our local Barnes and Noble. We're lucky that my in-laws were willing to take our son, Hadley, along, but I was sad to miss it. I try to remind myself that we'll have a blast next year with a 4-year-old and 1-year-old along and able to enjoy things on a whole different level. But, there's a lot that we ARE able to do, and I'm downright giddy about the simple things. Here's what we're still excited about: - Getting a Christmas tree. We're not going to the same place that we usually do since it's much further away and would take TONS more work to pick up, but we're still getting a real one! They're actually more eco-friendly and it was silly to plop down a chunk of change for a new fake tree if we'd only use it for one year. So, we're trying out a place that's about 15 minutes from home (rather than 45+ minutes) and will be far quicker to get home. And, this year, I know our son will be FAR more interested in helping to hang the ornaments and Harper's going to love the lights. Win-win! - Baking cookies. Hadley's been craving one-on-one time with me lately, so I try to find something to do with him regularly - even a quick play session. I can't wait to whip up some cookies and let him cut out whatever shapes his little heart desires. Plus, I've got a sweet tooth, so he and I will eat our weight in cookies. Can you tell I'm excited? I am. - Movies + snacks. We're movie people. Literally. My husband actually wrote, directed, and performed in numerous indie movies in his younger days, and I've got one of those "old souls" (I'm a borderline expert on many classic films and even have a Katharine Hepburn autograph), so we've got a list of "it's not Christmas without watching..." movies. Add to that the fact that I make some killer wassail (inspiration from the aforementioned Candlelight Evening) and homemade hot chocolate and the hubs is the popcorn maestro, and you've got a fun, stay-up-too-late night! So, here we come, It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, and the slew of TV specials on our flash drive! - Basic decorations. We've already got some simple white lights strung outside, but on the inside I like to do a little more than just the tree. So, I'll scroll a Christmas-y saying on our chalkboard, hang our stockings early (along with a banner for all the cards that arrive), and use some of the extra greenery our tree always seems to give us with an orange or two to deck the halls a bit more. If it's away from our son, I may fill a vase with some bulb ornaments and call it a day. - Family! Christmas is all about family for us. I know it'll be tiring, especially when straying from the routine, but we're going to make an effort to celebrate as we normally would with our families. This means a lovely dinner and gifts on Christmas Eve with my in-laws (a small get-together but always a wonderful time), Christmas morning to our own devices, and the rest of the day with my larger, more boisterous clan. The most exciting part is that my husband's brother and his wife welcomed their first child and my sister's family welcomed their second child this year. So, there are THREE babies less than one! Of course, Harper's the newest, most floppy-headed of them all (and the only baby girl), but it's definitely a year we'll all remember!

Are you guys planning a simple holiday season this year, or are you doing it up big-time?

I'd love to hear how you celebrate!

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