It was an unconventional Christmas for my family this year. Not what most would consider minimalistic but not entirely commercial either. We shot for a balance somewhere in between and (I think) came out well in the end. Our children are all getting older and although I wanted to take a family trip this year like we did last year, the kids asked for something different. They wanted a more “traditional” Christmas with presents, but most of the lists were practical.

The very best thing was having everyone here for the day. Some of the kids barely crossed paths, but just to have them all here hugging, laughing, sharing stories and gifts for each other, eating and cuddling, and me demanding like a crazy person that pictures get taken.

The oldest at 23 and her boyfriend got a gift certificate to dinner at a place we thought they’d love and they gave us a gift certificate to bring the family to the movies. Of the two 19-year-olds, Olivia said she needed to retire her boots and wanted a new pair, but could we do it after Christmas and make it a lunch date to spend time together. Isaiah at 19 and Gabe at almost 18 asked for parts each of their vehicles needed and yes, Dad’s help would be appreciated in installing them and spending time together. Alana at almost 18 asked for items she needs in preparation for moving on to college and some upgrades to her guitar. Taylor at 17 wanted one Bluetooth speaker to listen to podcasts. The three 15-year-old girls and the 13-year-old girl were a little more commercial, but all asked for a gift certificate or money to add to what they had so they could go through their clothes and go on a shopping date. Sam at 12 wanted legos — a staple in this house — but man that kid can build pretty much anything with them and I love feeding his creativity. Tavin is 5 and wanted everything she saw in every commercial, screaming that marketing tactics of toy companies are alive and well and working like a charm.

We still primarily have a “one in, one out” theory with toys and every item for ourselves and the general household. It’s more difficult to control what teenagers keep, but we still always have a donation bag going and the kids regularly pass things between each other. Three days after Christmas the house was driving us crazy. In part, it’s due to the Christmas items that we bring in — the tree, the falling ornaments, the decorations that may not be in abundance but are still a disruption to the calm. Two weeks with everything up and we’re ready to bring the house back to a state of normalcy.

Maintaining a lack of clutter, a more streamlined home, a minimalistic viewpoint takes effort and self-control. I know we did a pretty good job because, at the end of the shopping, we had enough money to spare for new running shoes for Dane and new trail and running shoes for me. All needed, all being changed out. It was a date and one of the most fun, best parts of our unconventional Christmas.

Originally published at https://www.momof18.com.

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