Christmas 2015 was certainly different. It was different from our previous Christmas’s and probably quite different from yours.

Due to my personal religious spiritual beliefs, I’m not attached to the story of Christmas being about the birth of a certain, super special (according to millions) child. Instead for me, it’s about a general celebration of love. This is what I’ve shared with my children since they were born.

In fact, this is what my husband and I have celebrated since our first holiday season together. I realized I gave him gifts out of love and appreciation for him, nothing else. He was raised Jewish and I was raised Catholic, and this was the first time I gifted someone a Hannukah present. Honestly, it felt a little strange which led to the truth in my giving of a gift; my love and appreciation for this wonderful man. It was our first December together that we declared December as ‘Joni and Robert Appreciation Month’. I gave a gift to my Honey on any day in December, and he gave me a gift as well whenever he chose to.

I digress . . .

In 2015, married for 22 years, with two teenage children, I chose something different.

I didn’t get a tree. It’s a friggin’ chore to me every single year. I can enjoy all the holiday lights as I pass the decorated homes on the street. I don’t need more than that. I certainly don’t need the lugging of a tree (once alive and cut down to put in my home for 2 weeks to be quickly discarded to a heap of leaves in my backyard), the begging of everyone in my home to help decorate the tree, and the pressure of feeling like this is what I’m supposed to be doing, although I was not pleased with the chopping, lugging, and begging. Can you relate?

I chose to lightly decorate my home, similarly to what I do to recognize Spring/Easter.

I’m seeking authenticity here; to live according to what feels right to me, instead of blindly doing what everyone else is doing. There’s no judgement here. I’m simply sharing . . .

I purchased very few gifts. I stayed far away from the mall (usual behavior). I actually feel discomfort in my body (WARNING: these are my thoughts I choose to think; this is is my story I choose to make up) as I witness the stores put more and more stuff in their stores so people can purchase lots of things for people, with money they don’t have.

Our family gifts are life experiences together. Each family member is selecting something he/she likes to do, and the four of us will do it together. It will be fun, engaging, sharing, and a celebration of love. To me, this is so much more in synch with celebrating love than going to a store aimlessly trying to find something a loved one may like (because Christmas is coming), waiting on a long line, wrapping the gift, and hoping my loved one likes what I purchased.

I sent few holiday cards.

I did not bake holiday cookies.

This year, my family volunteered to distribute gifts to hundreds of underprivileged children. We went beyond ourselves to help, love, and support complete strangers. As we waited on line to begin our volunteer excursion, I lept for joy!

YES, I lept for joy because I felt throughout my body, my complete being, I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. I was in synch with my greatest self and it felt fabulous!

I met new people. I was a little nervous about being responsible for 6 children I never met before. I gave my undivided attention to a young boy who loves to talk. I followed two boys around between arcade games and the bouncy slide. I witnessed my daughter be super thoughtful as she prompted me to bring water to a boy who requested water earlier in the day. I saw my son, a young man, deliver gifts to people he’s never met. I threw lots of snow balls (like pom poms) around. I handed out ice cream. I showed up with delight and a smile as I was present in the moment with each person I encountered.

My heart is overflowing with tremendous joy, pride, and gratitude for my family showing up in such a big way for this new family adventure.



Do you do anything outside the “norm” for the holidays with your family? If so, please share below.