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A Simple Christmas: HOW? - Page 2

post #21 of 46
: I love the idea of this thread. Every year we are overwhelmed and exhausted despite paring down Xmas a lot.
post #22 of 46
We don't go anywhere on the day to save sharing ourselves out year on year.

We play Christmas carol tapes in the car for the week before and buy a poor runty looking tree (there is always one calling out to us!) the day before Christmas eve.

I feel less and less like celebrating the christian aspect of Christmas even though I am a catholic. We seem to get sucked backwards into the whole 'this is the way its always been' and spending time with people we don't like, stressing about gifts which we think are imaginitive but the ILs find quaint and 'cheap'. We eat beef not turkey (no-one in the family likes the dark meat) we lounge and play games and generally relax because either dh or I are ususally working the day before. We have stopped driving around the country; our families have more leisure time than we do so they come if they want to see us. All this sounds selfish but it works for us.

Now I feel more close to the midwinter solstice celebrations around the 20th and want to share food, warmth and friendship. Then I look forward to New Year's eve when there is hope, newness and promise in the air.
post #23 of 46
Thread Starter 
I just now have had some time to read all of the responses.

What some great ideas!

I don't have anything to add right now, but I will keep reading.

Thanks mamas!
post #24 of 46
Being a nonxtian, I do very little. Greenery on the door and holiday cards to all.
We never did the santa thing. Many of my buds here who do have "scaled back" in recent years to make it all more meaningful. Some do the three Santa gifts as the Gifts of the Magi thing. Others follow the old rhyme in shopping for their kids, something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read.
post #25 of 46
I've enjoyed reading this thread and getting ideas. We haven't really figured out the whole christmas thing yet. Luckily dd will only be 2 this year. I figure I still have a little bit of time to get things figured out. Unplug the Christmas Machine sounds like a good book. I put it on hold at the library.
Most years christmas has seemed like a lot of anticipation and little enjoyment. We live away from family so usually we just exchange gifts and dh watches football. I'd like things to be more meaningful.
And I'd like to change the gift thing, too. We usually send money to each of the nine nieces and nephews. I feel uncaring by sending money instead of a gift, but postage is so expensive cross country. Plus I would rather they buy something they want rather than not like something I pick out for them. Although I would rather they have something educational. We've been thinking of stopping the extended family gifts altogether.
And now that we have a child, she gets all kinds of gifts. Mostly plastic junk stuff, too. Well actually she doesn't get all that much stuff because we live so far away, but still more junk stuff than we want her to have. It seems like there's really no reason to get her a gift from us. So far, my sister has already sent a set of 25 books for her for christmas. That seems like a lot of books.
And then there's the question of what to do about celebrating her birthday. 2 days after christmas. I've got a lot of thinking to do.
Really the holidays aren't all that stressful for us so far. But they don't seem meaningful either. Time to start some traditions.
post #26 of 46
This thread had me thinking and I was talking to dp about how 'well I handle the holidays', he started bringing up little things I do where he can see my stress. I hadn't noticed, but I can see what he's talking about. He pointed out that every year I push myself to make waaay too many kinds of cookies-and I guess I do, but I have my faves, he has his, and I usually want to try a new one, but he says I make a big mess then start throwing things around the kitchen (I don't think I throw them, but he can tell when I'm venting my frustrations on the dishes, lol). And when we're entertaining, about an hour before everyone is to show up I get a little crazy and start something, then stop and go to something else, fluttering around, never really doing anything, and it's all with a scowl on my face. It's interesting how others can see things in yourself that you don't notice. I think this year I'm going to keep my cookie making down to just a few kinds, and bake them one at a time, hire someone to help clean before (a big luxury, but I've recently decided I needed to do either hire a sitter for dd while I work or hire someone to help around the house a bit, I thought I'd try the cleaning first) and I'm going to make a 'before everyone shows up' list to keep myself focused on one task at a time.
post #27 of 46
Originally Posted by philomom
Others follow the old rhyme in shopping for their kids, something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read.
We've always done this in my family, but it was 'something to play with' rather than something to wear. I guess the wear bit usually came out in the 'something you need'. Perhaps we'll change it back, just for variety!

We're still working out what to do about christmas, so the suggestions have been enlightening. I'm wondering how people with smlal children and out of town relatives have handled things? For our entire marriage, DH and I have either stayed home for christmas, or gone to my mother's house. We've never visited his folks because their idea of christmas is basically JUST the gift-exchange, where as with my family there is a lot more tradition involved -- BIG dinner (I cook, but I love it so I staunchly resist simplification. I've been picking my menu for a month already...), games, trip to church, hot cocoa, sleeping in, stockings and gifts in the morning over tea and scones, and then playing outside or watching movies. We also celebrate stuff during the 12 days, and then have a cocktail party for the adults on 12th Night.

I'd love to sort of re-center the christmas traditions at our house so that they're something our children can grow up with, and so that DH and I can form them into 'our own', but it seems rude and mean to force the IL's to travel and 'do it our way'... I'm totally pro-simplification, and I hate the idea of dragging young children across the country for their grandparents convienence, but I know that when my mama laid the kibosh on dragging us around the country for the holidays everyone was pissed for years.
post #28 of 46
I did a Google and found this website:

There was one in particular that I wanted to highlight-

Sherry Ward's Christmas

When my first daughter was born in 1995, I told myself that every year during the Christmas Holiday that she and I would gather toys, clothes and books and other items around the house and donate them to other families that didn't have as much as us. I wanted her to appreciate the meaning of giving and not always expect to receive gifts for Christmas. She is now 7 and we continue to do this. One year, I let her pick out $50.00 worth of toys from the local Dollar Store and we went to the Hospital on Christmas Eve day and I had her hand out the toys to all the children that were staying there. She truly enjoyed seeing the kids and I hope it made her appreciate her health, family and what she has.

I would LOVE to start this tradition this year.

I love the idea of every Christmas morning feasting on a mountain of gooey cinamon rolls! Having a breakfast of tradition is something that I'm particularly interested in.

We have always put up the tree as soon as we finished with Thanksgiving dinner (or as soon as we got home from Thanksgiving dinner), that's one that we'll continue. We have a little tree that MIL got us our first christmas. She got us a little tree, some lights, and two boxes of standard red balls. Every year I add a few ornaments and have painted/glittered the balls.

I'm glad to be thinking about this now, before the little bambino is here. We can do a 'dry run' this year, and start next year with the simple christmas.
post #29 of 46
Originally Posted by moominmamma
For Christmas dinner, I put almost everything in the fridge or freezer, ready to re-heat, over the few days before. Except the turkey, of course.
Can you tell me more about this? I'm thinking that would be great for Thanksgiving. What freezes well ahead of time?
post #30 of 46
apple pies freeze ahead of time. Actually the pie filling is already in the freezer. We went apple picking in late sept and made the apple pie filling and froze it. So we will make up the dough the night before and refridge it and Thursday morning, roll them out and bake. They will be warm/hot when we bring them over for dinner and warm when dessert rolls around. (Literally rolls, my mil makes the best turkey and stuffing!!)
post #31 of 46
Originally Posted by Amys1st
apple pies freeze ahead of time. Actually the pie filling is already in the freezer. We went apple picking in late sept and made the apple pie filling and froze it. So we will make up the dough the night before and refridge it and Thursday morning, roll them out and bake.
I think I might do that!!

Pretty much everything can freeze. Stuffing, rolls, gravy, anything that is already made. Some desserts don't freeze as well, but as long as it doesn't have icing on it, it should be okay.
post #32 of 46
Originally Posted by OnTheBrink
Can you tell me more about this? I'm thinking that would be great for Thanksgiving. What freezes well ahead of time?
I usually do a mashed squash or squash/turnip or squash/sweet-potato thing. I put it in the freezer a few days before Christmas and it re-heats wonderfully. Cranberry relish (fresh cranberries plus sugar and oranges) stores pretty well in the freezer (better in the fridge, but it's okay in the freezer). I just pull it out of the freezer and leave it on the counter on Christmas morning. I do a veggie-and-pickle plate a day or so before and put that in the fridge. I cut up cheese and make a cheese ball and both those stay in the fridge. Broccoli I cut up a couple of days before. I blanch it until it's still just slightly under-done, then toss it in ice water, then drain and store in the fridge in a big ziploc or equivalent. It just needs to be warmed before serving.

For Christmas morning I usually do "cinnamon toast strata". It's basically French toast that you prepare the night before and pull out in the morning to bake:

In a small bowl, mash 3/8 cup butter with 3 T. cinnamon. Spread on both sides of a dozen slices of bread. Cut bread diagonally and arrange, cut side down, in 9x13 inch buttered baking dish. Sprinkle with 2/3 cup sugar. In a medium bowl, whisk together 8 eggs, 2 cups of milk and 1/4 cup maple syrup, blending very well. Pour slowly over bread. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 350F. Bake strata uncovered for 45 minutes. or until puffed, golden and set. Serve with additional maple syrup on the side.

Last year I did cinnamon rolls, rolling everything out the night before and putting them in the fridge overnight before baking in the morning. (I must have felt unusually relaxed to have had the time for this, and I must have had more than the usual amount of fridge space available! Normally I find them too fussy and time-consuming to bother with on Christmas morning.) The tradition here, though, is just that there's gotta be something cinnamony baking in the oven first thing Christmas morning. We have it with sparkling orange juice (i.e. ginger ale and OJ) and fresh grapefruit halves decorated with two pineapple triangles, two raisins and a lurid maraschino cherry to look like little kitten faces. Same every year.

post #33 of 46
Originally Posted by OnTheBrink
Can you tell me more about this? I'm thinking that would be great for Thanksgiving. What freezes well ahead of time?
This year my MIL is making mashed potatoes the day before, she says they come out great, just like regular mashed potatoes. She read part of the recipe to me, you can make it up to a week ahead. If anyone's interested I can get the recipe from her.
post #34 of 46
corwinegall, I'd like the recipe! I don't like mashed potatoes, but SO does. I never learned to make them b/c I don't like them.. But I thought that I might surprise him this year with a big fat bowl all for him.

Starting on the 'donations pile' today. Good luck to me!
post #35 of 46
Easy Cinnamon Rolls...

Though I've stopped making them this way because we're avoiding hydrogenated oils. But you might weigh it for yourself and find it's worth it once a year if it makes this tradition possible for you.

2 tubes refrigerated biscuit dough
ground cinnamon
some kind of dried sugar - Sucanat, brown sugar, whatever
a little oil
optional: confectioner's sugar

Open the tubes of biscuit dough and roll out flat, taking care to pinch the pre-scored cuts SHUT so you have one big rectangle of dough. Brush the dough with a little oil. Sprinkle cinnamon, sugar, possibly chopped nuts, raisins, or whatever you want to be inside the rolls. Leave about 1" on one end of the dough un-sprinkled. Roll the dough carefully, as tightly as you can manage without having it fall apart, and "glue" shut the un-sprinkled end (wet it with a little water if you need to). Repeat for second tube.

Slice each roll into about eight sections and arrange in a baking dish leaving room for expansion. (if you want sticky, gooey rolls, add additional sugar in the bottom of the dish and place the rolls fairly close together - if you want drier, individual rolls, give them lots of space so they won't touch as they expand). Bake according to the dough directions but be forewarned that you may also need to bake them a bit longer to get them cooked all the way through.

If you want to ice them, mix up confectioner's sugar with a little water or milk (or soy/rice milk) until it's the appropriate consistency, maybe add a drop of vanilla or citrus extract, and drizzle over the top of the rolls. If you are icing them it's best to let them cool a bit before icing.

That's it!
post #36 of 46

I second the Flylady holiday template!

I printed it out and did the reading and started lists. This will be our first Christmas home in a long time. We usually travel to family.

I like Flylady's idea of creating memories for the children. I think that is the best gift to give them. Since we probably won't have company for Christmas, I'd like to institute a nature walk and special treats for the animals. Also story reading of some special Christmas stories.

Now, gotta read the rest of the thread.
post #37 of 46
Sooo glad I found this thread. I love the four gift ideas. Gotta remember that rhyme. I always get the kids their BIG MAIN want thing. One yr it was talkin Bubba, all my 2 yr ds could say, another yr was "a blue dress with flowers" solved that by making a flower pin.

Now to get my relatives onboard....my thread in TAO explains the insanity of the family.
We do have Christmas visiting sorted out finally. Early in Dec my sis comes home and we have gift giving/EATing with her, my brothers family, aunt and great aunt. Christmas Eve is always dh family, now at the sil house. Xmas Day morning, after Santa, my parnets come over and we have brunch. If we make it, there is another meal in the afternoon at dh's aunts. New Yr Eve one cousin has started a family friendly party! It's sooo much fun. She makes a scavenger hunt and the kids track down a pinata, eveyone bring food and lots of drinks! This yr my bil may be getting married to his Philipino internet girlfriend. ( i skewered that spelling) So thru Dec-New Yr we get to see ALL of the family. That is my favorite part of the holidays anyways, if we can scale back the gift parade on Xmas Eve, it'll be perfect!!

I love the idea of a cocktail adult party though, 12th night is Jan 6th? (my dad bday)
post #38 of 46
Wow, this thread has really made me think about our future Christmas traditions.

Right now, I set up a "gift wrapping center" on an old study carol, scavenged from my college library. I put all of the wrapping paper, ribbons, cards, Christmas cds and anything else I might need for holiday organization! When I buy a gift, I sit it under the desk until I have time to wrap it. I also keep a box on top of my wardrobe that has little presents I buy all year long to make things a little easier.

My husband goes out and chops down a tree (from a tree farm) and brings it home the week after Thanksgiving. We decorate it together and listen to nonstop Christmas music all December long.

We usually walk or drive around the city and look at all the Christmas lights and we usually take some nice winter hikes with the dogs.

I start baking like a maniac the week before Christmas and the two nights before Christmas I usually stay up all night long baking so that everything will be fresh. Then I stuff over 40 baskets full of muffins, cookies, breads, tea and flavored sugar to give to our extended family. Somehow we also fit in going to my best friend's house for Christmas Eve dinner.

We wake up on Christmas morning and open our gifts to each other and the dogs. Then we drive to my mom's house, where we open more gifts. Then we drive to my grandma's house, where I help cook dinner and we have dinner with my side of the family. Then on Christmas night we drive 5 hours to Pittsburgh, where we crash at my MIL's house. The next two days are filled with more Christmas excess and his family throws a huge party. It is CRAZY...

I don't really know how I could simplify, though. My best friend and I are going to combine our baking efforts so that we can enjoy Christmas Eve more and we want to have a big football game for our friends that day.

Some traditions you have mentioned that I would like to incorporate...maybe doing one fun event each weekend, decluttering and giving away excess goods to those less fortunate, making a memorable Christmas breakfast every morning. Hmmm, somehow it seems like I am adding work to my holiday!!!
post #39 of 46
Sweetiemommy, You could always try freezing some of your treats in the weeks before, let them thaw, and then put them in baskets. If nothing else, you could freeze the dough and make your cookie baking time less.

This year I'm going to make everyone bath salts. Simple, handmade, and cheap!!! I'm not sure what I'm doing for the guys yet (Guys aren't big on long soaking bubble baths, most of the time.. Just my SO! ) but I'll figure it out. Maybe some jelly or something.
post #40 of 46
One tradition we began last year (when my son was 2 1/2) was to read a book about a family that decorates a tree for the animals on Christmas Eve. Of course, I can't remember the title or author right now, but I'll try to dig it out. After reading that for a couple weeks, we took some stale bread, spread peanut butter on it, and dipped it in seeds. We hung them on couple of trees locally on C-mas eve and had a nice little walk. We hope to make different kinds of bird feeders as DS gets older.
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