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It’s almost December and you realize that you still haven’t bought a thing…except for maybe a strand of lights to replace some old, worn-out ones. Your mind turns almost into panic mode because there’s so much to do, and so little time left to do it!

My question is this: why? Why do we have so much to do? What is it that we are trying to accomplish with all the hustle and bustle?

We have allowed our Christmases to be hijacked by our culture, buying into the lie that it has to be all the things, expensive gifts, and unending busyness. Unintentionally, we have hiked our skirts so to speak and run headlong with our culture, chasing joy and happiness in all the things we can buy.

Let’s be honest, pretty red bows and fragrant evergreens draped with twinkle lights just kind of speak to us. I mean; I love some twinkle lights and sentimental ornaments. I’m like Kevin in Home Alone: I love a Christmas tree! That being said, I’m tired of what Christmas has become. So very tired.

Can Christmas just be Christmas? A guide to simplifying the holidays

Just let Christmas be Christmas

What if instead of the hustle and bustle and maxed out credit cards, we agreed to a good old-fashioned Christmas pageant, sought fellowship, soaked in the sights and smells, told stories of days gone by, and shared Jesus with one another? He is, after all, our greatest Gift!

I’m not suggesting that we stop with our traditions or the giving of gifts. What I’m suggesting is that we stop the hurry and rush, and instead embrace the walk to Bethlehem.

How can we let Christmas just be Christmas?

Most importantly, we need to get to the place that we realize this whole gift buying frenzy is a trap. Kids don’t need 100 gifts under the tree.  Here’s a secret: they don’t even need $100 worth of stuff under the tree. We are living proof!

The year after I decided to come home to homeschool our kids, we were so very broke, and we had no savings. Honestly, we didn’t know what we would do, and I literally prayed that all of the last year’s twinkle lights would work. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that we had $20 to spend on each child–we had 3 at the time. What God did was amazing! A dear man and his wife approached me at church one evening, and he place a $100 bill in my hand and told me to “buy them kids something for Christmas.” Those were his exact words. My eyes still get all watery thinking about that moment and this couple’s tender ways. Turns out, that year was by far one of our best Christmases!



Advent Activities

What made it so special? We didn’t have anything, but we really didn’t need anything either. What we did want, though, was to more than ever focus on Jesus.

We did our first ever Jesse Tree, and we hand-made each ornament for it. If you have never heard of a Jesse Tree, I highly recommend it for Advent. Most kits come with ready made paper ornaments, and you can find free devotions and craft instructions just like this one. Typically, we think of Advent starting on December 1st, but it actually starts on the Sunday closest to Nov. 30, and includes the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, so don’t let it sneak up on you!

It was also the first year we read Jotham’s Journey, which we borrowed from friends because that year we just didn’t have the extra money to spend.

Since that first year, we have read all of the books in the series and will be starting over again this year. It’s an amazing story of the journey of a little boy, as he finds his way to the Christ child though he didn’t even know he was looking. What’s cool is that all the books and characters eventually intertwine with one another!

*The reading for Arnold Ytreeide’s stories begins Sunday, Dec. 1 this year. Each year is different since Christmas is on a different day of the week each year.

When reading Ytreeide Advent stories, you don’t have to use the Advent candles like the book suggests. There have been times when we did and times when we didn’t. And honestly, with little ones, I’d skip it. Along those same lines, you might want to have some kind of coloring activity–like this one–ready.

A Simple Christmas

We did things that cost us nothing:

  • looking at Christmas lights in our town
  • enjoying Christmas music
  • having our family over for fellowship and fun
  • making a popcorn garland
  • sipping hot chocolate while we watched favorite Christmas movies
  • reading books we already had, ones that we’d forgotten about.



We might have been at the lowest financial point in our lives, but it was also the first year we refused to use a credit card no matter what.  And ya’ll, the no-matter-what proved to be the sweetest of Christmases! That year taught me that I do not need get caught up in all the things “Christmas” to be blessed and joyful during this season. When we focused on what we did have, and not what we didn’t have, our perspective totally shifted, and the result? An amazingly blessed, Christ-centered Christmas!

Can Christmas just be Christmas? Could we relax and return to the place where our heart is?  Maybe even go back to a place of simple pleasure and joy and leave the crazy and the hustle behind? Sure we can, and as we do, we can breathe deeply, and simply enjoy Christmas.


4 comments on “Can Christmas Just Be Christmas? A Guide to Simplifying the Holidays”

  1. LOVE this. Thanks for the reminder to just let Christmas be the celebration of Christ’s birth! Those books are the sweetest. I need to see which ones we’ve missed. Thanks for the tips too. 😉

    • You are welcome! We are excited to start our Jesse Tree today–I’m not sure if I am more excited or the kids! 😉 My heart is to enjoy and worship Jesus this year!

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