Holiday Tip: Slow Christmas

First there was slow food, then slow blogging. I am frankly quite shocked that no one has trademarked the term “Slow Christmas” yet (or at least not that I’ve seen in my not-particularly-vast survey of literature). So let me just put the word out there that Slow Christmas is the way to go. Take back your Christmas!

Here’s how we do it: Santa stuffs the stockings, and those are looked at immediately upon waking up. The kids play with the things in their stockings. We make coffee. We talk. We make some breakfast. Then, someone opens a present. The recipient then has all the time he or she wants to peruse that gift. If you got a book, go ahead and read some of it. If you got some clothes, go upstairs and try them on and see how they look. If you got a toy, play with it as much as you want. Sometimes the kids are ready to open another present, and they will, but we try really hard to make each gift massively awesome (I am so, so, so against gifts for the sake of gifts), and often an hour or more will go by before another gift is opened. I have it on good authority from the Big Man at the North Pole that some trains will be in the stockings, including some long-coveted battery-operated ones, so I could conceivably foresee the entire morning going by before we get to any actual presents. Which is fine by me.

The first thing this does is make Christmas very peaceful. I have been at Christmases where it’s a frenzied present-opening free-for-all, and maybe that’s fun and happily chaotic for some people, but it made me kind of crazy. You couldn’t see what anyone got and you barely had time to see what was in your own box before you had something else thrown at you. And you usually miss the reaction of the person opening your own gift to them, which is more than half the fun, as far as I’m concerned.

Slow present opening also makes the day last longer. When Henry was littler, there were Christmases where we didn’t even get around to opening up all the presents on the 25th. (Now he’s more aware of what’s left under the tree.) So you don’t get that 10:00 a.m. letdown where suddenly everything is over and you’re tired and you feel like there’s something else you’re supposed to be doing but you’re not sure what it is (shopping for next Christmas?).

And, best of all, with Slow Christmas you don’t have to get nearly as many presents. With our family of five, two or three per person is just fine (I’m counting wrapped presents here, post-stocking). (That’s fifteen new things in our house! That’s a lot of things!) It was two years ago that I started to get very, very edgy about the amount of objects that were about to come in to the house because of the holidays, and I am still hyper-aware of the number of things we’re adding to the house. I haven’t bought many presents this year, and I’m still a little worried about where we’ll put everything. (I’m sorry to tell you that I maybe went just a little bit overboard because of not having to buy presents for anyone in the extended family. But I will also say that I haven’t done the official wrap-’em-up tally, and if there’s overage, I have no problem saving some things for birthdays next year.)

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