I will openly admit it: I am not a fan of Christmas. It stresses me out to the point of not enjoying it at all. I cannot figure out if it is the shopping (I am not a shopper), or the spending (I get stomach aches over the bills), or the chaos, or worrying about if everyone will like my gifts, or too much food, or whatever. I actually envy the Christmas shoppers who are laden down with packages and have smiles on their faces and are humming “White Christmas.”

Me: I avoid the traffic, am the last person to buy a scraggly tree, clean up and put it all away the day after, to which I wake slightly depressed (or very), glad it is over for another eleven months, and wishing I had it figured out like everyone else seems to.

I am a very big fan of Jesus; not so much what the world has done to His birthday celebration.

Last Christmas for the first time, I kinda got it right. No depression the day after, no remorse over spending. I actually had fun. I stayed close to Jesus. I want to share what I did—and if you have any other tips, please pass them along! Surely I am not the only ‘Bah Humbug’ on the planet.

Simple decorations

Last year I discovered that a few simple, elegant decorations are just as festive as the whole house done up from stem to stern. The more fresh greenery, the easier the clean up. My Christmas essentials are in one or two crates, everything all together.

Christmas stockings

Last year we (I mean I) decided to fill stockings for our children and their spouses, and give gifts to the grandchildren. Our children liked it so much that they have all agreed this is now a tradition to stay. It gave me a little shopping for stocking stuffers, and a very creative way to give money (stuffed in the toe). If we have an especially blessed year, more money; if it is a lean year, not so much. At any rate, the amount of money is always to be a surprise. I like that.

A Jesus-focused Devotional

This was my lifesaver and the key to an entire month of a happy heart. I chose Ann Voskamp’s, “One Thousand Gifts.” Five lessons, DVD included, thin little study guide packed with nuggets. I began a journal, counting all the things I am thankful for and I am still counting. She says, “When we slow, stop, notice, reflect, and give thanks – it’s right there: the goodness and grace of God all around us.” Worked for me.

Date night with my husband

Ben and I used to do this when the children were little to have a moment for each other in the middle of the rat race. I need to institute it again: a nice dinner, a little shopping (for me), and the vital relay of information regarding Christmas, the gifts, duck hunting season, family events, and plans for the new year. You see some couples out to dinner not saying a word, heads buried over their food. Not me. I talk best over a good meal, at a nice restaurant, with a captive audience.

I may institute a few more Christmas aids after reading your ideas and thoughts. Bring them on!