Downscaling Christmas

If you're addicted to a holiday high that ends with you in the dumps, try these ideas.

Start close to home

Get on your knees with your family, and covenant with God to simplify your life. Determine to glorify and worship your external Lord rather than the holiday myth of overworking yourself into exhaustion for a "perfect" Christmas season.

Ask family members which traditions they most want to continue, and ask them to give something in exchange. If your daughter craves homemade cookies, ask her to do the vacuuming or errands to free your time and energy to help her bake. If your family needs a decorated evergreen to make them feel jolly, ask them to take over; explain that your job will be taking snapshots or video of the activity. If they're too young to pitch in, you're fortunate, because you can start them off with simpler traditions.

Question the seemingly immutable. One year, my husband and I and our kids decided not to erect a tree. Instead, we created a small handmade nativity. It was the focus of our celebration that year, and we spent many evenings sipping cider and creating a life-like and heart-expanding scene. Several years later, we donated the project to our church, where it's displayed in the foyer at Christmastime.

Recognize other events throughout the year instead of focusing on "the big one" and all the things it's come to be. Instead of sending Christmas cards, recognize the significance of Easter or Thanksgiving. Mail your family newsletter on your wedding anniversary. Send faxes, emails, or electronic cards anytime just to remind someone that they're loved by you and God.

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May 25

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