Merry Grinchmas! My Holiday Revolution.

Around this time every year, my husband jokingly refers to himself as the Grinch. Because he hates doesn’t like to fight the crowds shopping for gifts. And holiday celebrating is a lot of work! You have to go to parties, parades and gingerbread house contests. And let’s not forget putting out lots of decorations that take a great deal of effort (like spending 3 hours testing every light bulb on the Christmas tree to figure out which one is burned out) when you only get to enjoy them for a few weeks. Making a big fru fru-ey deal about anything is just not a part of who my husband is. And I love that about him. But it is kinda funny since we have only girls, and 3 of them. Doesn’t God have a great sense of humor? Yes, my poor hubby has to put up with lots of fru fru-iness in this house.

That’s why we gave him Mr. Grinch holiday pj’s for Christmas a couple of years ago. So while we girls are running around the house singing Christmas carols and tossing tinsel & garlands on everything that doesn’t move, he can proudly relax in his Grinch pj’s, drink his cup of coffee, & enjoy watching our girly madness from his Grinchy cave. Because everybody knows that’s not what the Grinch does. The Grinch hates Christmas, right? Or does he?

You see, I’ve read the book by Dr. Seuss. And I remember what happened to the Grinch at the end of the story. He learns the real meaning of Christmas.

Even though he likes to play it tough, I think, deep down my husband is a Christmas softie. 🙂

Christmas isn’t about the fru fru…

In my favorite line from the book, the Grinch says, “Maybe Christmas…doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

Christmas isn’t about all the decorations I put up or how much money I’m spending or how many presents I’m buying for everyone in the family this year. It’s not about how pretty my Christmas tree is or how many church services & holiday events I can go to. It’s not about how many cookies I bake, all the Advent activities I do with the kids, or the big family Christmas feast. Those things are good. But they are also just…things. Things that can distract from the real Christmas. Sometimes, we get so busy with all the holiday trappings that we forget to stop and think: “What is Christmas really all about?”

Turns out, the Grinch is actually pretty cool. He realizes that Christmas is about people, not things. You can’t buy Christmas. Or spend too much money on gifts and then wrap it up and put it under the tree. After he takes all the Christmas-y goodness away, Christmas still comes.

Because, in the end, Christmas is all about one Person, really. (It’s the God Who came as the Baby in the manger, just in case you were wondering.) Everything else is just for fun.

What do you suppose would happen to our hearts if we went without all the holiday fru fru every now and then? Maybe, just maybe our hearts wouldn’t feel so tight. And we would have more room in our hearts to share with those who are finding it hard to celebrate this year because they find themselves alone. Or maybe those who don’t have enough money to make ends meet, let alone buy Christmas gifts….hmmm.

I think  my husband is on to something. So that’s why I’ve decided to make this year a Merry Grinchmas! Kind of a Grinchy Christmas revolution, if you will. You can join me if you want to. My slogan is “Christmas does not come from a store.” I’m going all “Grinchy-rogue” & stealing Christmas back.

What does a Merry Grinchmas look like? Am I holding signs and picketing the mall? Ummm, no. Am I refusing to celebrate all things Christmas? No. Am I decorating my house only with things I’ve made myself? Am I giving only hand-made presents? No way!  Well, maybe just a little. But mostly it means that I’m being intentional about removing my family from all of the madness that Christmas commercialism has become in the malls and big box stores. I’m making our Christmas simpler. Without all of the “have-to-do’s” and “gotta-have-its.” It’s about taking the pressure off yourself to make a big to-do (although you can if you really want to). The focus is instead on family fun & together-ness. Most of our Christmas activities this year will take place in our home. Shocking, I know.

It’s time to relax and make our spirits bright the old-fashioned way. Without ribbons, tags, packages and bows. A little less fru-fru.

Now please excuse me while I go carve me some holiday roast beast.

Merry Grinchmas from our house to yours!

My Advent Calendar That Almost Wasn’t

I’ve always liked the idea of having an Advent calendar, but it seems like I can never get my act together and actually do one. But this year, in our new home, I decided to start fresh and give it another try. There are a lot of really cute ideas on the internet these days for advent activities. For example, I saw this Advent calendar over at Simple Mom last week.

And I thought, now there’s a calendar that I can make! No pressure for a huge, time-consuming project that I’d have to be Martha Stewart to do right! Except that I don’t have a picture frame. No problemo! Time for me to improvise! That’s kind of my specialty anyway…Sometimes this works for me, and sometimes it doesn’t. You be the judge.

The first thing I did was decide what activities we would do on each day of the month until Christmas. Tsh was kind enough to provide a list on her blog, which I basically used as my own, but swapped some things like movies & local holiday events out to suit our needs. This took me longer than it probably should have. Because I’m indecisive like that.

Then I forgot all about it for several days and almost decided not to do it went to Joann’s with all 3 girls in tow and bought number stickers, Christmas scrapbook paper, plain bookmarks, mini-clothespins and ribbon. They kept begging to know what I was going to make, but I did not give them even a hint. I wanted this to be a surprise so their excitement would be worth the hard work love I put into it.

Then when we got home, somebody found my list of things to do and told some of them to a sister before I discovered them. Totally ruined my attitude. So much for the surprise. I was totally bummed. What is it with me letting little things like that bother me so much? I wanted to call the whole thing off, taking the easy way out for me. Yippee! Almost did, actually. But then I remembered that this wasn’t just about the “surprise.” It’s about doing things together as a family and building memories. Helping each other find the wonder and meaning of Christmas. And learning that sometimes the best things can happen when things don’t go according to my plan.

So after the girls were all tucked in last night, I pulled everything out and stayed up waaay too late and made our advent calendar. Which you can see in these poor quality pictures. The lighting was bad. Sorry.

I hung the ribbon in a zig zag pattern above our fireplace using 4 nails. There’s probably a better way to make it look nicer, but I was using what I had on hand. Maybe you can give me some suggestions.

I used number stickers for the date on each ornament

I also added a few extra touches on the wall above.

They’re definitely not works of art (I used a printer and crayons), but I like that they remind me what really matters. Maybe someday I’ll get something a little more professional looking. But the point of this project was just to do it even if it’s not perfect, right?

The girls were so excited to see it this morning when they woke up. Almost as good as Christmas morning! Like Tsh suggested, I used post-it notes to write the activities on. So I can change them if I want to. But I didn’t have mini post-its so I just cut regular sized ones in half. Also, I’ve wised up and am planning to write the next day’s activity out the night before. That way if anybody peeks, there will be no harm done 🙂

And in case you were wondering, today’s activity was to watch The Grinch (classic 60’s cartoon version). No I did not change the list or make that up.

Guess God knew my heart was a little too small.

That wall above the fireplace had been bugging me with how empty it was. Seriously, that fireplace needs a mantel!

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