There are a few quotes I’ve heard throughout the years such as, “necessity is the mother of invention” and “poverty is the author of creativity”, that were especially true for me when our children were young. Why? Because being a one-income family and having four children in five years, stretched our already meager finances to the limit. For that reason I was forced to be creative and use any and all resources I had available to make holidays special.
As a child, other than the basic family meal and a few gifts, holidays weren’t a huge deal for my family. So when I got married, I knew I wanted the holidays, especially Christmas to be memorable and filled with family traditions galore for our kids. This meant I was force to keep it simply special (k.i.s.s). Many of the things that later became traditions were actually started because I was limited in time, energy and money. Yet, our children, now ranging from 26-31, still insist on just about every tradition that began when they were children.
How did I keep it simply special at Christmas? The most important part of any plan, especially when involving young kids, is simplicity. Children aren’t impressed with all the razzle-dazzle of expensive gifts, elaborate meals, and great holiday getaways, unless we train them to be. If we teach our children to be truly grateful for every gift, every decoration, every home cooked meal, the expectations are lowered and the enjoyment increases.
Ways We Made Christmas K.I.S.S. :
- Limit the number of gifts. We did this out of necessity. We purchased a few small items for stockings and a couple gifts for each child. We didn’t buy things, just to buy them; we chose gifts that were meaningful and we knew would be enjoyed by each of them.
- What child doesn’t love seeing someone enjoy something they made for him or her? So when our children were old enough to teach them the importance of giving we encouraged them make gifts for one another and other family members, something that was truly from their heart.
- A Christmas tree doesn’t need to be the biggest one in the lot. The first few years we were married we had a homemade 18” ceramic tree that lights up as our Christmas tree. For a few years our first real trees were about three feet until we could afford a taller one. Our kids didn’t miss the big expensive artificial or aromatic real trees while growing up, because we made a big deal out of whatever tree we decorated.
- Stringing popcorn, making paper chains, and hanging homemade ornaments may be old fashioned to some, but it worked for us financially and created some of our fondest memories.
- Meals are extremely hectic with small children, especially at Christmas, so simple is essential. Because I wanted a fun, yet quick and economical breakfast, one year I bought Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, a package of little sausages that just needed to boil for 5 minutes, and along with apples and oranges that was Christmas breakfast. When I fixed this simple meal, I had no idea that years later my kids would still want the same Christmas breakfast and refuse to eat those two main items any other time of the year.
The above list may seem dull and too simple, and I used to think so too until the first Christmas our son was in the Marines and unable to get leave until early January. I was talking to him about what he wanted to do to celebrate Christmas when he came home and he said he wanted all the traditional stuff, but was very insistent that when his friends came we had our family’s Christmas breakfast, and nothing else. Apparently he’d been telling his friends all about it. A tradition that started out of necessity is now looked forward to every year for our family. Nothing is too simple.
I totally understand the pressure society puts on families to go big at Christmas, but our responsibility isn’t to please or be like our neighbors, friends and even at times our families. We have to do what works for us, and for those with limited finances or special needs children, simple is the best way to go. If eventually going bigger and better becomes an option, that’s great, but we need to remember kids can be just as excited with little as they are with much, when we join in that excitement.
More K.I.S.S. ideas coming this week!