How do you handle the work of Christmas?

First off, I have to say I laughed all day yesterday about the "branding" of Father's Famous Flapjacks. Part of my amusement came from my realization that I've sort of branded something with my husband. You see, part of the time Sterling works from home, and 98% of this is wonderful. But every now and then I get a hankering to have the house to myself. For some unknown reason, I've taken to saying, "Okay. Go to work. It's my super-special-me time." Sterling finds it humorous, and he totally gets it. Super-special-me time. It's a thing.

Now, on to today's material . . .


Rebecca and I have a penchant for Lifetime Christmas movies. I understand they are formulaic and often ridiculous. At times I spend the bulk of the movie criticizing the improbability or predictability of their inane plots. Still, I can't help it; I like watching them. Yesterday afternoon we flipped to a movie I recognized from last year, On Strike for Christmas. The movie starts out with the mom desperately trying to corral her two teenage sons and husband into those preambles of the Christmas season: picking out the tree and putting up the decorations. Of course, the boys have other plans and the husband just plain isn't interested. After a failed attempt at hanging the outside lights herself, the movie momma throws up her hands and calls a strike. Then a bunch of Lifetime stuff happens . . . and the men of the family realize they need to pitch in for Christmas, and the mom learns that the holidays don't require perfect decorations or exquisitely produced foods . . . the family just needs to be together.

All at once now . . . aaaaawwwwwwww.

As we were watching Becca remarked, "We're not like that at all."


No, they're not like THAT. But, I do find, as the kids get older, they are not quite so enthusiastic about bringing down the boxes of Christmas decorations. They definitely want all of the old traditions, but perhaps served on the side -- leaving them free to participate or abandon as their interest waxes and wanes. I totally get this. Sometimes I feel the same.


Last year we sat the kids down and asked them each to submit three things that made the holiday feel special. I really wanted to pare down the superfluous activities that were stifling our teens and making me nigh-on-to-crazy as the grand ringmaster of nagging. They definitely wanted to keep making gingerbread houses (phew!). They wanted to deliver gifts to neighbors and friends. They wanted to go to Starbucks for hot chocolate and then drive around looking at lights. They looked forward to our white elephant gift exchange with extended family. They wanted to host our annual Christmas Eve party.

Those five things were my priorities in celebrating the Christmas season with my kids. I downsized the decorations, since no one else was interested in putting them up or taking them down. I dispensed with the ONE-REALLY-FUN-ACTIVITY-EACH-DAY advent thing. I kept the Christmas music playing and the hot chocolate flowing. And it was enough. And the Christmas nagging was kept to the bare minimum.

What about you? How does your family divvy the holiday responsibilities? Any tips for simplifying?