A simple Christmas and Hanukkah – is it possible?

Our family Hanukkah celebration from last year.

For the past few years, I find myself saying the same thing, “This year, we’re going to keep things really low-key.” This is mostly because our wallets have been pretty lean compared to pre-baby days, and I’ve been either pregnant or on maternity leave since circa 2009. And yet, every year, I cave and buy more decorations, too many presents, and eat waaaaay too much…all under the banner of Christmas and Hanukkah cheer. And this is really the crux of the matter – trying to achieve a feeling, and making sure our kids experience that feeling, too.

Our 5-year-old Christmas tree…still going strong!

When we were growing up, I remember having the feeling even with a 15-year-old Christmas tree that you could see right through….even with mismatched ornaments and colourful lights as opposed to stylish white ones…even with the gifts that weren’t always name brand or exactly what I had put on my list. This year, I find myself reminiscing and missing all of that. And, I want my kids to understand this is still just window dressing, literally and figuratively.

If I think about what really gives us the warm-fuzzy-jingle-belly feeling, it actually does come down to spending…but spending in a different way. It’s about spending time, effort and energy for the ones we love, and for those who are not as fortunate. It’s about gifting with a conscience so that if we are buying gifts, the impact is greater than the one-time purchase. And, it’s about demonstrating to our kids that the excitement you feel around the Holidays is not something to hold and keep to yourself. It is best experienced when shared with others through simple, thoughtful gestures.

So, we will try again this year to keep things simple. We will reuse what decorations we can from previous years, and we’ll shop locally or make gifts for our family members. And, we will focus on the feeling we get from just being with each other so we can channel that into good-will towards everyone.

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