3 Attitudes to Make Your Christmas Week Better

Make Christmas week even better
Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and founder of Steady Mom

With less than one week left until Christmas, it’s crunch time. You may have items on your Christmas bucket list that you need to let go of. Across the blogosphere writers now remind us that the time has come to stop the to-do’s, time to embrace imperfection.

Starting today let’s shift our minds out of things-to-do mode and into attitudes-to-nurture mode.

This week is the fabric of memory-making, and the following three attitudes help us weave strong threads within our family without allowing holiday stress to tear our seams apart.

1. The Attitude of Anticipation

In this culture in which instant gratification abounds, anticipation is often forgotten. But looking forward to an event contributes to the happiness of the event itself. Part of our Christmas gift to our children is helping them develop the ability to enjoy before the special day is actually here.

By choosing a simple life this week, we offer our kids, and ourselves, abundant time for imagination–the prelude to the exciting weekend ahead.

Ideas to build anticipation:

  • eat simple meals this week
  • dine by candlelight in the evenings
  • maintain a slow pace before the big day
  • stop looking at blogs for new holiday ideas–spend less time online

2. The Attitude of Enjoyment

There’s a strange paradox that sometimes happens when we reach a long awaited moment–we don’t enjoy it as much as we thought we would. But if we learn to nurture our attitude of enjoyment, our holiday can live up to our expectations.

How do we cultivate enjoyment? By delighting in our senses and extending them–the smells, the sounds, the sights, the tastes, the gifts that pass through our hands. Not every special holiday activity needs to occur right upon awakening.

In our home, we open stockings in the morning and have breakfast. We have no family in the area, but we visit a good friend in a nursing home every Christmas morning. When we come back home, the kids open one more present. Then our focus switches to the smells and tastes of preparing Christmas dinner.

Like a new sweater being molded for the perfect fit, we can stretch out each moment for maximum enjoyment.

3. The Attitude of Recollection

The power of remembrance allows the celebration to stay with us much longer than one day. Leaving Christmas behind doesn’t have to be depressing–it’s a natural part of moving toward the next cycle of the year’s rhythm.

My husband is British, and I have loved adopting his tradition of celebrating Boxing Day–the day after Christmas. Instead of an abrupt end to the season and a post-Christmas let-down, we have another day to ease back into our flow of life.

A day for leftovers, one last unopened present awaiting in the basement, time to recall our favorite moments from the day before–a day for recollection.

These moments combined will become our kids “remember when’s.” By cultivating these three attitudes we can make sure their memories are those with the most staying power.

Which attitude comes easier to you: anticipation, enjoyment or recollection? Which is a struggle?

Originally published on December 19, 2011.

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She is the co-founder and editor of Simple Homeschool, where she writes about mindful parenting, intentional education, and the joy found in a pile of books. Jamie is also the author of a handful of titles, including her newest release, Give Your Child the World.


  1. Great ideas!

    I really like the idea of eating dinner by candle light and spending less time online this week.

    I just organized my daily to-do lists for the week. I’m getting my shopping and errands out of the way on Monday, and spending the rest of the week taking it easy with the kids (skating, playing board games, bell ringing, baking, etc)

  2. Great post! Thanks so much for the reminder. This week should not be so much about the to-do list but the right attitude. Our kids won’t remember what presents we got them but they will remember how we treated them and what we did together.
    Heidi’s latest post: Homeschool Latin

  3. Stephanie L says:

    Thank you for this! I needed to remember these things. I have spent the last few weeks planning this week and the next (the time my oldest has off from school) so that we can just enjoy the time. And then, this morning I found myself wanting to rush and get done, etc. I really needed the reminder to slllooowww down for my kids. This whole week, we will eat by candle-light in the dining room (next to the Christmas tree) and just enjoy and anticipate Christmas day.

    One of my favorite ways of making Christmas day special is by going to our church’s Christmas Eve service. I love how that slows us down, helps us to remember why it is that we celebrate Christmas and sets the “mood” for that night and the next day.

  4. Boxing day is my favourite! Less pressure than the big day, plenty of good food still to eat and a day of enjoying the lovely gifts and time together. I didn’t realise that this is a British tradition, it should be adopted everywhere!
    Emmalina’s latest post: Schoolhouse Tunic Mark 2

  5. Both of our families are VERY close so we have one Christmas after another sometimes and our small(ish) family Christmas felt neglected. Last year, we decided that we would have our own Christmas on Epiphany, January 6th. I get to focus on each Christmas with our family without worrying about neglecting our own traditions. I love it!! 🙂 (And hubby gets new vacation days every new year so we can use one of those if we need to do so!)

  6. I love the presents idea on Christmas & Boxing day 🙂
    I’m trying to read more books (or short stories) about Christmas this year, to help me personally enjoy it more 🙂

  7. I think I’m definitely better at anticipation and terrible at enjoyment! I love the build-up to special occasions, especially Christmas, but I struggle with keeping the moments themselves “stress free” and taking them in with gratitude and true enjoyment. This is something I really hoped to change this year.

    To tackle that, I tried really hard to get all the “to do’s” out of the way as early as possible: Christmas cards mailed, Christmas shopping done and gifts shipped, baked gifts made, and all the stuff that whips me up into a frenzy. This week we’re focusing on spending time together — tonight was chili, cookies & Christmas movies night (which was perfect because it snowed all day, so we kept indoors & enjoyed it!). Later this week we plan to take the kids to stroll the zoo Christmas lights, head up to one of the ski resorts on our season passes for a day on the slopes (if weather permits!), and I have a surprise date night out with my hubby, taking him to a hockey game. Plus I can’t wait for Christmas Eve service at my church and more singing of Christmas carols! This is special to me because we’re usually traveling at Christmas time and party-hopping between family members on Christmas Eve, so we’ve missed many Christmas Eve services over the years.

    In the vein of keeping things simple, we do have simple dinners planned — chili, homemade minestrone, pasta — which can be warmed up for lunch the next day. That is something I actually planned in advance to avoid more running to the grocery store for last-minute meals.

    I like the rest of your ideas Jamie — and I’m really hoping to make the enjoyment special and memorable this year!
    Renee Gotcher’s latest post: A Homeschooling Christmas: Week Two

  8. I’ve been suffering through a head cold the past few days and was bummed I couldn’t make my favorite Christmas cookies. I had this deadline in my head that I was fixated on. But then yesterday it clicked… can’t we just have New Year’s cookie’s? Or January 10 cookies? I’m not sure why I think everything has to be so incredibly compressed. It’s just a recipe for disappointment.
    Maggie’s latest post: Teacher Gifts

  9. I’m finding I spend so much time doing that I’m finally slowing down and being. I know I need to build more time like this into the regular flow of the year, but for now I’m going to cherish simply stepping back and slowing down.

    So much love to you this Christmas! xoxo
    Caroline Starr Rose’s latest post: Classroom Connections: THE SUMMER OF HAMMERS AND ANGELS by Shannon Wiersbitzky + Giveaway

  10. These are great reminders for me today!!! Thank you.
    Tracey’s latest post: The Best Gift Ever: A Simple Way to Make It Real for Our Children

  11. Slowing down sounds great! I forced myself to not teach school on Monday, which was really hard! I am going to read some today instead of baking a whole bunch!
    Martha Artyomenko’s latest post: School week #19

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