Christmas is a stressful time of year. My daughter was in the Navy for 9 years which meant we spent many holidays without her presence and knowing she was homesick and missing the traditions she grew up with. My oldest son now has a family of his own and has chosen to intentionally live a minimalist lifestyle. My youngest son is on his own busily pursuing his dreams. This year our family made a collective decision not to exchange gifts. It's something I have been in favor of for several years, but without everyone being onboard, it's hard thing to do. While making holiday plans this year, my son simply said they did not want to exchange gifts. The rest of the family seemed to agree the gift exchange was something we could do without..... Hence we had a "Gift-less Christmas". Let me assure you, it was much easier said than done. After years of racking my brain about what to get who, of scrambling for useful and thoughtful ideas, and always spending more than I could afford, it seemed extremely unnatural to resist the urge to splurge. Each day UPS and Fed-Ex would deliver boxes and boxes of items ordered by co-workers for their family and friends. I sat calmly on the side as those around me fretted and stressed about timely delivery and last minute shopping. In a way I felt like I was missing out, but in another way there was a strange peace. Don't get me wrong..... I LOVE giving gifts, especially when I find the perfect something. But when I find the perfect something, I don't want to wait until Christmas to give it. Okay, in all honesty, I don't like to wait until Christmas to give it mainly because I'm bad about putting it somewhere then forgetting where I put it which makes it pointless to buy the perfect gift if you lose or forget about it before you can give it. Plus, there is nothing more special than a gift that is given or received at a random time, for a random reason, or for no reason. In fact, those gifts are usually treasured because they are such a surprise. I'm not sure when, or how it happened, but Christmas has morphed into something it was never meant to be. Society has giftnapped our Christ centered holiday and we're letting it happen. Christmas has become a competitive sport that has nothing to do with the birth of our Savior. I look back over the years and see how manically I worked to create Martha Stewart magazine cover memories of sugar cube houses and cookie decorating for reasons that had nothing to do with the birth of Christ. I went to great lengths to create picture perfect memories that would be scrapbooked and tucked away in case I ever needed to defend my worth as a Memory Making Mom. My energy would have been better spent trying to make the holidays simplistically obtainable rather than elaborately ridiculous. Whatever the case, this year was wonderfully relaxing and definitely memorable for reasons that have nothing to do with ribbons and bows. It was unconventional to say the least and raised more than a few eyebrows, but I'm happy to report that we survived just fine without the wrappings and all it's trappings the holidays usually brings. I can't say for sure, but we may have created a new family tradition.