It's December! Christmas is coming! New Year's is coming! If you really want to freak out, you can even think Valentines Day is coming! One holiday per month, and that's without anniversaries and birthdays. I remember a time when I would go into freak-out mode whenever October 1 rolled around, and this is why:
Thanksgiving dinner for 4 families at my house - $300.00
Christmas with 3 children - $1500.00
New Year's family get together (at my house again of course) - $150.00
You can see why I'd be freaking out. Dinner needed to be the best. I needed a centerpiece and decorations, and of course an hors d'oeuvres buffet that rivaled Martha Stewart's. I wanted my children to have the latest handheld video game and to sport the nicest clothes from "decent" stores. For New Year's, food and decorations simply must top last year's celebration.
I had a lot of stress I put on my own plate. I was watching television. (And a normal amount of television...a couple of shows a night.) My children were watching television. My children's friends were watching television. We watched what Hannah Montana was wearing. I was being brainwashed with commercials of how horrible a parent I was if I didn't get my child the Nintendo DS. I seen commercials and television shows of what a Thanksgiving celebration should look like. Don't forget the paradox of magazine covers you walk by at the check out showing articles like "How to Make the Perfect Turkey" next to "How to Lose 30 lbs in 30 Days". I was so caught up in the commercialization of the holidays, and here's the kicker: I didn't even know it!
So, now life is a bit different. I'm not stressed or depressed over the holidays. I don't freak out. I think a lot of it has to do with not having cable or satellite TV in the house. It comes from really researching what comes in our house. (See here.) I'm kinda disconnected from the outside world in that I don't know what the cool toy of the year is, or who Miss America is. I still see billboards exclaiming that "We can give you your relationship back - Viagra!" I'm still out in the world shopping and so forth, so I know there's an heiress named Kim Kardashian people seemed obsessed with. This information really doesn't affect me a whole lot though. It doesn't filter into my house, and so I just don't place as much emphasis on what other people do for gifts gifts and Christmas dinner.
I love being simple. I'm addicted to it. In fact, I look for ways to live simply all the time because it makes me feel good. I like it. When I was younger, I would buy things. This would make me feel better. I'm not even sure what I needed to feel better about, but...yeah, there you have it. Now, when I find a way to make something just as good or better homemade, I feel really good. I like living in a fifth wheel for instance. And to be completely honest, when this one is paid for, we might sell it and get something smaller. I love downsizing. I'm constantly throwing things away or giving things away. I am addicted to not having useless junk laying around. So, of course, I'm looking to have a very simple Christmas without a lot of frills and junk...especially junk I have to spend a lot of money on that will probably get thrown out in a couple of years or so.
I do have a couple of things to get crocheted for gifts and I do decorate my home. We have wonderful Christmases due to the emphasis being on special things we do, not special things we give. Here are some things we do to make Christmas special.
All month long, we watch Christmas movies. Usually one every weekend.
We decorate the whole house. This year I'm gong to make some Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments.
We sit down together and make little graham cracker houses. (Like gingerbread houses only with graham crackers. I put out several colors of frosting, candies, etc.) This is my favorite thing!
We sit down and decorate sugar cookies together in the same manner as above.
I put away my melts, and instead put together a homemade simmer pot. I just pull out my fry-daddy and set it to low (or put a saucepan on the stove on simmer), and I put a couple cinnamon sticks in it along with orange peels, maybe some lemon juice, a couple of whole cut-up granny smith apples or whatever, then I fill it with water. I just bring it to a simmer and keep adding water. The ingredients change based on what I have on hand. Sometimes just a bunch of apple peels and a couple of sticks of cinnamon.
I still go all out when it comes to Christmas dinner, but it's all homemade and consists of a lot of pies.
I'd LOVE to hear what you guys do to make the Christmas season special. You know me! Always on the look out for more ideas! Also, I still am looking for ideas on things to give to my extended family. I was thinking of filling canning jars with dried goods to make soups and stuff. I could give out a bundle of 6 jars. (I put a new section under Recipes called Gifts in a Jar or something like that.) I was planning on putting Snowman Soup Mix in a jar to to go with the soups. By the way, if you click that Snowman Soup Mix recipe in the previous sentence, there are other beverage recipes there like Hot Cocoa and Wassail.