1. I made it a potluck, so that we can still have a good spread without me doing all the cooking. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love cooking and baking. But, even if you do some things ahead, the amount of work that has to happen all at once...well, that alone can be enough to make you want to pull all your hair out! So I've asked my guests, if they are able, to bring an app and a side. I've also finally realized after all these years of Christmases, that I don't have to find a way to make every. single. food. item. from scratch. Guess what? Canned cranberries are actually not bad. And those buttermints I wanted to make from pinterest? Nevermind. Hey, if I can even find them in the store, I will buy them. If I can't find them, oh well! Yes, I do believe the food should be great, but it is NOT the main reason for the gathering! If food is the only method you have of getting guests to show up, well, that's an issue for a whole different blog post!
2. Our crock pots have multiplied in the past year, so most of the cooking I DO have to do will be done in those. Ham? Can be done in the crock pot. Mashed potatoes? Yep, in the crock pot. Hot apps? I've always done them in the crock pot. Stuffing? Nope, that won't be in the crock pot. ;-) Hey, want to know my secret stuffing recipe? A few boxes of stuffing from Aldi done on the stove top in a few minutes. *Gasp!* I know, horrific, right?! That will probably be the only reason I turn on the stove on Christmas day.
3. Unlike years past, I don't have a super long list of cookies to make, as I cut it down...just doing more amounts of fewer kinds; along that line, I cut the roll-out sugar cookies this year and did drop cookies instead, and they turned out great! Nope, it's not the same as having all those pretty little shapes decorated like all get out. But, they taste pretty much the same, and you can still make them pretty with sprinkles and colored sugar.
4. I let the kids decorate this year. Yep, the 13-, 8-, and 6-year-olds. They had a little (and I do mean little) help from Daddy, and they did great! Plus, they had a LOT of fun. I have now realized that in the past, I have been WAY too picky about the decorating. This was purely the hubby's idea and I have to admit that at first, I was in panic mode. I thought for sure I'd be rearranging everything later. But nope, I'm leaving it. There are a few odd placements, but you know what? They make me smile rather than cringe. It's a much-needed attitude shift, I gotta tell you.
Nope, we didn't have another kid, the hubby ACTUALLY got the dog a stocking this year! Can you believe it???
5. I told myself I was NOT going to go crazy power cleaning and organizing...just do the normal weekly cleaning and NOTHING extra. We are at, what, three days out, and this is actually going quite well. Now, I would still be totally embarrassed about gross bathrooms or something like that. But you know what? The cleaning and picking up we do all the time that is good enough for the family that lives here, well then, it's good enough for family and friends who come to see, what, a clean house??? No! I would HOPE that they're here to visit US, and celebrate the reason that we are gathered together. I stopped "making" the boys clean their room quite awhile ago, and they actually keep them cleaner than when I nagged. They still get messy, but they know their mess is NOT to spill out to the rest of the house. They also know that they have quite a few little cousins coming over, and that helps, too, because they know all their special things better be taken care of and put away right.
6. Staying connected to the One whose birth we are celebrating. I don't do the full study time I would LIKE to do every day in reading and prayer. But, I always try to do SOMEthing, and I try not to be too hard on myself when I feel like it "wasn't much." It is so important to just keep remembering why we truly celebrate this season, and to not let anyone or anything steal away our JOY and hope in the birth of Jesus. Remember WHY He came, and for WHO He came, and be thankful.
Remember the Reason for the Season