“Our Christmas Experiment,” Ensign, Dec. 2007, 66
When our children were still at home, we wanted them to enjoy all the sights and sounds of Christmas, including the excitement of Santa. But our focus needed to shift—more to Christ and giving and less to Santa and getting. We also wanted to lessen financial pressures and create a less hectic holiday schedule. So we decided to try an experiment—and it has lasted throughout the years.
Emphasize Christ rather than Santa. To focus on the spiritual aspect of the season, we displayed several nativity scenes and pictures of the Savior. On Christmas Eve we celebrated His birth by singing carols and reading scriptures. Before opening presents on Christmas morning, we knelt together to thank our Father in Heaven for the greatest gift of all—our Savior and His Atonement.
Reduce financial pressures. We set up a special savings fund for our Christmas expenses and stuck to it. We made a budget based on past Christmas spending and what we could afford to set aside each month. When it came time to shop, we kept a list of our purchases so we wouldn’t accidentally overspend.
Simplify gift giving. Santa had a short list because he gave just one present to each family member. We pooled the rest of our Christmas funds and focused on finding meaningful presents for each other.
Reduce time pressures. We tried to complete our shopping before December 1 and wrapped gifts the same day we bought them. At the end of November, we made a list of our December obligations and the things we wanted to do as a family. Beginning with the most important activities, we scheduled each event on a calendar. But we tried to be flexible, realizing that some things could be postponed or canceled if needed. We also reserved a few evenings to stay home and relax.
Sometimes we accidentally slipped back into our old holiday habits, but we didn’t keep them for long. For us, relaxing and enjoying a Christ-centered Christmas is the way we want to celebrate the season.
Nanette Justus, Idaho