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    The Nonnegotiable Christmas

    December 21, 2006 by Brandy Vencel

    This Christmas season has been bare-bones for us. The checking account is slimmer this year, and Mommy is quite the opposite, a combination that means we had to simplify on many levels. We are doing what I call the Nonnegotiable Christmas. These are all the traditions and goodies we simply don’t want to do without because they are part of what we think of when we think of Christmas. For instance, there are some decorations that went up because the time and energy spent taking them down will be nominal. But there are others that take time and were put up anyhow…because we love them.

    Specifically and in no particular order…

    1. Our real Christmas tree
    2. Homemade fudge
    3. Driving around to view Christmas lights in a nearby extravagent neighborhood that spares no expense on decorating
    4. Hot cocoa and pancakes on Christmas morning {obviously, this won’t happen if we are at the hospital}
    5. Three gifts per child {I will explain this someday soon}
    6. Trying to remember Advent devotions in the evenings
    7. Attending our church’s Christmas Eve service
    8. Wrapping gifts with real paper and tying them tight with beautiful glittery ribbons {bought on clearance after Christmas last year, of course!}
    9. Listening to Christmas music
    10. A little box of presents mailed across the country to our far-away family members

    That’s all I can think of right now. Any other readers want to share some nonnegotiables?


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  • Reply Rahime December 23, 2006 at 7:14 am

    Oh, I understand the paper thing now. I completely agree. In fact, that’s what I’m off to do now. Sit with ‘Chung and a movie and wrap all of the gifts we’ve bought.

    Oh, and if we have children we’ll definitely do the ornament each year thing…actually I’d like to start doing it for the two of us now. I always wished when I was a kid that my family had that tradition ’cause I had several friends who did and it seemed so meaningful.

  • Reply Brandy December 23, 2006 at 1:59 am

    Is the snow at Disneyland really soap suds? I don’t think I ever knew that–I’ve never been there for the snow…

    That is something that isn’t necessarily a Christmas tradition, but that we would like to start incorporating into winter season. When I was little, my grandfather and father would take a truck up to nearby mountains and bring back snow for my sister and I to play with and build a snowman. I’d like to do that for the little ones until a time when they are ready to really “go to the snow” (as we call it around here).

  • Reply Grace December 22, 2006 at 3:37 pm

    First of all….Rahime, so, yeah, can you bring some of the fudge and peppermint bark when you come down? Thanks! 🙂

    I would have to agree with all of you. Family is a nonnegotiable. Yes on the paper! I love turing out a good Christmas movie and wrapping presents at the same time! And the ornaments for the kids…what a great tradition. I will keep a mental note of that. 🙂

    One last nonnegotiable thing for me is Christmas at Disneyland. I love to go see the decorations and watching people’s reactions when the snow starts falling (well, soap suds), especially the kids. It’s such a kodak moment!

    Merry Christmas!

  • Reply Brandy December 22, 2006 at 4:23 am

    Basically, my only nonnegotiable is family.

    Rahime, I have to agree with you that if I had to narrow it down to nothing at all, family is the most essential of all. 🙂

    I like your idea of listening to the Messiah at least once. Do you know I’ve never heard it live? I would love to sometime, but it would be a challenge since, as far as I am aware, there is nothing here locally. I used to try to attend the Nutcracker every few years, but have gotten priced out of that market lately.

    Kimbrah, my parents do the yearly ornament for the kids! I love that! We have been told that we are to give them to the children when they marry and are ready for their own tree. That is a nice tradition, I think.

    Oh…and as far as the real paper, I don’t know if that made sense. I meant paper in contrast to using gift bags. Gift bags are getting very popular, but I really enjoy lovingly wrapping a gift.

  • Reply Rahime December 22, 2006 at 12:56 am

    Real paper???

    I have very few nonnegotiables. This is the first year in three that I’ve had a tree, though I suppose if I had children that would be essential.

    Another is the baking–fudge and peppermint bark and after that whatever else I have time for. I don’t even really eat much of it, but it serves as great gifts for the many people in our lives who we like to give a little something to and is nice to have on hand.

    A box of gifts to my aunt, uncle and cousins on the east coast.

    I also try to listen to Handel’s Messiah at least once all the way through… preferably live, though it’s been a few years for that too.

    Basically, my only nonnegotiable is family.

  • Reply Kimbrah December 21, 2006 at 9:47 pm

    We always get each of the children an ornament (we like to get Hallmark if we can afford it) to commemorate what was special to them that year. We hope to do this every year until they are married or who knows when. We have lucked out in the past because we have been able to find the ornaments we wanted on clearance after the holidays, but last year we waited too long and had to find some alternatives.

    That’s just one I can think of off of the top of my head. And making Christmas candy. I am a little behind schedule, but I have all of my ingredients now and I am going to start soon.

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