This is what my grandpa used to say each year at the end of Christmas day. (Actually, he used to say this at the end of every significant day or event, but we’re talking about Christmas right now.) As a kid, I hated when he said this, as it marked the end of a magical day. As a teen, I thought it was hysterical because it annoyed my younger siblings. As I got older, I started realizing what he meant.
So much focus goes into Christmas that it’s hard to avoid the crash when it’s all over. In some ways, the preparations start right after Christmas–as we buy discounted lights, decorations, and such during the post-Christmas sales. Then there’s the occasional “perfect” gifts that you find throughout the year that get stashed aside for Christmas. As October arrives, the stores start up the spectacle of trees, lights, and toys. Once we roll into November, the Christmas rush is in full force. In some ways, poor Thanksgiving has just become a brief pause in the fever-pitch of shopping–a time to fill up and plan those Black Friday and Cyber Monday purchases. By December, the pressure is on to have a decorated house and wrapped gifts and a calendar full of holiday happenings.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy browsing the sale ads on Thanksgiving, love decorating the house, and enjoy the fun activities centered around Christmas. I just think we fail to savor the moment. But how can we change things and do something different?
Here’s how we savored Christmas time this year:
- Ignored Christmas sales of any sort before Thanksgiving. We did make a list of wishes before then (to help out the grandparents).
- Spent Thanksgiving with family being thankful (and yes, eating plenty of food). No, we didn’t step out for any “deals” that night, but we did review the ads together and put our Christmas shopping lists together (everything from gifts to food items needed for the season).
- Enjoyed Black Friday shopping with family, and only bought what was on the list. On Cyber Monday, I only searched for needed items.
- The house decorating began after Thanksgiving (and honestly took a few days to complete).
- We made a plan to do something “Christmasy” every day of December. Some of these were small things like wrapping presents or making Christmas cards. Others were already planned things like a variety of concerts through my kids’ musical groups.
- We committed to doing things for others–from serving at church to buying presents for the school Angel Trees.
- Although we read the Night Before Christmas, we also read the Bible. Remembering that we’re celebrating the birth of our Savior tends to humble us all and remind us to be thankful.
- Made time for family on Christmas (and a few days before and after) by taking off work. This was a tough one for me, since I’m self-employed. I can easily take the time off…I just don’t get paid. This time off means I’ll have to work some long hours at the beginning of the year, but it’s worth every moment.
While this year still left me with a little sadness that it was all over, I didn’t feel like I had survived a hurricane that had finally blown through. I’ll still think of my grandpa’s saying and smile, but I’m thankful to have savored the Christmas season all the way to the new year.
Here’s wishing you all the best in 2016!