When our kids were younger I’d sit down with them and make beautiful lists on our big family chalkboard of all the amazing things we’d do during the month of December. Zoolights, volunteering, making cookies, Santa visits, Christmas Tree Lightings, Story time with Santa at the Columbia Gorge Hotel, Storybook Lane, Peacock Lane, driving around to see Christmas lights with popcorn and hot chocolate, The Christmas Ships Parade…literally dozens of fun things to do. I was in hot pursuit to establish traditions with our family and because there were so many fun options we just did them all.
One year when it was particularly cold and rainy we skipped Zoolights. It was as if the heavens had parted sending a torrential downpour to every possible moment we could squeeze in this ever-so-important yearly tradition. It didn’t come without careful consideration over whether or not it was actually OK to skip it; fouling up our carefully thought-out holiday traditions was no easy decision-and Zoolights felt like a big one. All it took was stepping away from one scheduled activity to realize we don’t need much in our holiday schedule to create lasting memories.
This realization impacted our lives so much further than the Christmas Season-it started to trickle down into our daily lives and taught us to create margin. In creating margin we have a family rule that we try to not commit to anything further than 2 weeks in advance (yes, there is an exception to every rule but using this as a guide has helped us to stay minimal with our scheduling). With minimally packed schedules we have more time to say “yes” to relationships and time with and for others and each other.
When the Christmas season comes we’ve done away with our ginormous list of fun things to do and keep it to a simple handful of things that have become traditions to our family. Our favorite Christmas traditions are simple and memorable to us as a family. They’re consistent and fun and we look forward to them every year. The simplest and most precious ones don’t end up on Facebook or Instagram; (most would probably not feel they are social media worthy anyway) they stay close to us and are ones we hope continue to travel down through our family for years to come.
Erin Heins has attended Grace Chapel for 8 years; she and JD are parents to their two kids Cash (6) and Eleanor( 4 ½ ). She is a stay at home mom and works with a local adoption agency as well as an aspiring minimalist. She enjoys photography, gardening, cooking, and needs a large mug of strong dark coffee every morning before the rest of the house wakes. Erin enjoys serving on the Grace Chapel Women’s Community Leadership Team and meeting the women of Grace Chapel.