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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day 23: Unplug the Christmas Machine

"Unplug The Christmas Machine" by Jo Robinson & Jean Coppock Staeheli

Last year I purchased this book near the end of November.  We were already in full swing of buying, buying, buying.  We always spend more than we plan to spend, and as the family grows, so does the shopping list.

Here's who is on the list:

My husband & myself
3 Daughters
1 Son-in-law (lost one this year)
3 Parents (lost one this year)
6 Grandchildren
Grab bag gifts for the party
3-4 others.

My husband purchases a gift for his brother.  They are the only members of their original family still alive,  My siblings and I sometimes exchange gifts.

Because Christmas has been my method of lifting me out of my fall "funk", I feel uneasy changing things. (I go through seasonal depression for the last half of October through whenever my Christmas energy begins to climb.) In addition, I've built expectations of our Christmases into my family - will they think I've morphed into a selfish Scrooge, or appreciate I'm seeking to have a more meaningful holiday.  And, what if I can't do all those personal touches and handmade gifts - will I just exchange one sort of frenzy for another?

This isn't a "how to" book, though you will see how other people "Christmas", but rather a "why" book. I examined the why's of the things I did and things I only longed to, and they made sense.  If you find each year brings with it the desire for it to "be over, already," you owe it to yourself to check this book out.  We're setting our kids up for empty holidays that climax in a ton of wrapping paper and toys instead of memories of holiday traditions with their parents and extended family.

This book helped in a way I never expected... my husband reengaged in the holiday. For a long time, he opted to simply watch me "do" Christmas.  (Better expressed as... "He hid while I did Christmas.") I missed sharing the preparations of the season with him, and last year we enjoyed it together.

Visit my other posting on this topic. Tis The Season of Excess and Stress - STOP!

Do you have a family tradition that isn't stressful?  Please share it in the comments, I'd LOVE to hear it!


  1. I'm known at Ms. Grinch. I lost any kind of expectation of comfortable family gatherings a long time ago. I'm a "be over already" kind.

    No, I have no family traditions that aren't stressful, because I'm stressful. Relax and enjoy isn't part of my thought process.

    1. One Thanksgiving, while the final preparations were needing to be made, I was having a meltdown in my bedroom... on my knees, at the foot of my bed, chanting something like... "never again, never again... I'm never doing this again," when my husband located me.

      I do understand the tendency to stress... ;-)

  2. BRAVA! Downloading this book today...I have tried unplugging the machine before. Determined to make it stick this year

    Thanks, Amy!!

    1. It feels more doable when you don't aren't the only one on the island of culturally misfit Christmasers.