November 20th, 2011

An excellent book

I really enjoyed reading Unplug the Christmas Machine: A Complete Guide to Putting Love and Joy Back into the Season. I'm about to start re-reading it, as I haven't read it for years.

I'm a secular Jew who is married to a secular Christian. I felt pushed, early in our marriage, to create the perfect Christmas. A holiday that should have been relaxing and joyful ended up, within a few years, becoming a dreaded holiday, faced with a sense of impending doom. More and more money was spent, and it was not joyful. The final straw was the year my husband's family was invited for a family dinner, and we had to change the date to accommodate one set of in-laws no less than three times. After moving things around for them, they failed to show up and didn't call to say they weren't coming. MIL ate little, then abruptly demanded my husband take her home. He put his dinner in the kitchen and drove her home - this was a 60 mile round trip. A few months later, I came across a recommendation for this book. I read it, and began cutting back. I continue to cut back, and our joy in the season grows.

Since our children were born, I've added in celebrating Hanukkah. It's a quiet, family-centered holiday for us. We light the candles, everybody has a piece of gelt (See's gelt, yum!), we read the story of Judah the Maccabee, and Dinosauria plays with her dreidel.

For Christmas, Santa only fills the stockings, and we give each child three gifts. This was decided on us for Dinosauria's first Christmas after chatting with a friend who does this. She says that there were three wise men each bearing a gift, so it was a good way to keep the holiday from becoming over-done for her kids. We thought that was an excellent idea.

We keep all of the holidays low-key now, and find we enjoy them far more.

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