i was going to skip Christmas this year

I totally was.

(I feel like I need to whisper that…hahah)

Not because I’m Scrooge, really.

But more, that I really didn’t want to be bothered with it. It seemed like much work. Getting the tree, getting the decorations, getting the Christmas spirit. The whole thing. And couple that with moving cross country the week after Christmas and you have a big old Scrooge called me.

That was until my 15 year old daughter sat next to me in my minivan as we were returning with more boxes and asked if we could get a tree. She kept asking and I kept ignoring but finally just listened.

Please, mom? I think it would still be nice.

It would still be nice.

Out of her mouth.

Sometimes Christmas is just hard, isn’t it? It seems that oftentimes Christmas rolls right around when there’s really tough stuff. I remember the first Christmas as a single mom not even sure I could make it through – every ornament seemed heavy – like my heart. And yet, my friends, we make it through. We inhale deep and exhale and do what we need to do.

Because we love them.

So today, today we bought a tree.


A little Charlie Brown scrawny tree. And a new tree stand because in my Konmari cleaning purge this summer I got rid of the old one. And as I stood at the amazing tree farm known as Home Depot I asked the man to save me the tree cut from the bottom of the tree.

And then the tears filled my eyes.

My Grace was right.

Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect to matter.

Christmas doesn’t have to look like all the other Christmases that we’ve celebrated. Or what Pinterest says or Facebook or what everyone else’s looks like.

What matters, beyond the religious reasons my family celebrates, is the simple act of showing up and creating memories. Simple simple simple. Not all this crazy complicated stuff that I used to think that Christmas meant.

You know what?

This year, because I had no pressures and I was going through everything I let the kids decorate without stress. And, my dear friends, it was so simple that it was perfect. There’s that tree next to an almost empty book case and garland on the stairs.



So I know that some of you have heavy hearts and the last thing you want to do is Christmas. I know it’s hard. I know it unearths stuff. I know.

But can I encourage you to just do a small thing?

Maybe it’s a tree. Or some lights. Or something. Because our kids don’t need things to be perfect. They just really need us to show up and celebrate the magic that is so easily squashed as adults. They need those simple magical memories of garland or eggnog or stockings.

You can do this.

Boxes around. Imperfect life. Crazy chaos.

What matters is the memory.


ps. Those are my tree trunk “Cuts” from the bottom of my tree. I am so THANKFUL for my Grace. Could you imagine if I had missed this year? Simple.

17 Responses to “i was going to skip Christmas this year”

  1. December 11, 2016

    Tawnya Gardner Reply

    Honestly, money is super tight and things are so bad this year that I was going to skip it too. But then I found a small $20 pre-lit tree and in that moment I bought it. Without thinking. Money is still uber tight and the kids will get very little almost nothing this year, but we have a tree.

  2. December 11, 2016

    MIchelle Reply

    Can i ask what the cut tree trunk pieces are for? Some year dates are missing – just curious what they symbolize. They are beautiful

    • December 11, 2016

      Rachel Marie Martin Reply

      Just like you cut a flower’s stem before putting it in water you do the same with a tree so that it “drinks” the water. So I started saving them and dating them eleven Christmas’s ago and now they have become the most prized thing for my kids.

  3. December 11, 2016

    Robie Lynn Reply

    WOW! I was just sitting here with my next blog title going to be, and they say money isn’t everything, but at this time of year, well it sure seems to be that. Then I came across your post and yes, for so many Christmas is a burden in other ways. Although our stories are very different, we are the same. We are moms! No matter their age, we created wonderful memories, and for you kids to ask for those memories to be created once again is awesome! That’s you doing it right, Rachel! You did the right thing, and no matter how different it may be this year, it’s about being together and adding that 2016 trunk to that pile! Chin up, hold that head up and celebrate the little things in these few weeks! MERRY CHRISTMAS!

    • December 27, 2016

      Kristin Reply

      I agree. We are different, but the same. How cool is that! (From one mom to another mom.) … and Happy New Year!

  4. December 11, 2016

    Amy Reply

    You’re moving?

  5. December 11, 2016

    Rachel Reply

    I love this post…it truly is the simple things that matter. The holiday season can become so extravagant, but doesn’t need to. Keep it simple and keep it real!

  6. December 12, 2016

    Lauren Reply

    What matters is the memory. That is SO true! I thought I was the only one who loved saving the bottom of the Christmas tree trunks for ornaments. Such a fun tradition! Happy Holidays to you and your family.

  7. December 12, 2016

    Hyde E. Brown Reply

    I love this article, as I am trying to stay positive looking at my lonely tree with no presents under it going and wishing that w will be able to make it through this next 13 days…life is hard, you never know what’s coming next and I am but even moving but just doing it for my five kids, they need happy in their lives! Thank you for sharing!

  8. December 12, 2016

    kim Reply

    1) you’re moving? Where? Good luck!
    2) I hate moving so much, I’d be tempted to skip Xmas too.
    3) I think it turned out right. Later in life, you’d kick yourself for not doing Xmas. & the missing tree trunk slice would be a glaring reminder. I know it would be for me anyway.
    4) have yourself a merry little Christmas! (Bonus points if you just sung that in your head. 😉)

  9. December 12, 2016

    Kate Reply

    Simple is so beautiful, especially at Christmas. Your kids will love it. God bless you as you have to deal with moving right after Christmas!

  10. December 13, 2016

    Sherrie Roderick Reply

    My daughter brought home her Santa letter today. Since we don’t celebrate Santa she asked her teacher who should she write to. Address it to your mom she said. She did, and this beautiful 6 year old asked for a good day. No present, just a good day. I will be making sure that I do all that I can to make her wish come true. Simple

  11. December 13, 2016

    Amy Reply

    Thank you, my daughter is having heart surgery right after Christmas and I haven’t really felt like celebrating. But you are right, I have to be strong for her, not just at Christmas, but whenever she needs me.

    • November 29, 2017

      Stephanie Brazell Reply

      Hugs to you. I can’t imagine how scary and how sad it must be for you. Be strong for your sweet daughter and hugs to you momma for all you are doing!

  12. December 14, 2016

    sue Reply

    This year well be extremely hard as I lost my Mom in August, but she would want me to carry on some of those family traditions for my granddaughter. So this year I carry on in honor of my Mom.

  13. December 27, 2016

    Kristin Reply

    I love the trunk cutting idea. The star on our tree is a simple 5 pointed figure cut from a piece of pine. I remember when the kids thought that the star was sub par, but now they understand with me. Jesus Christ was born in humble purity and laid in a wooden feed box. What would be a better treasure than humble wooden star, or the ends of your yearly evergreen tree. For the Savior, who over came death and is the life of the world, IS the reason for the season. Simple. Simple. Sweet.

  14. December 28, 2016

    Jan-Maree Reply

    I have just found your blog via a friend sharing your 16 things… then found this. It was our first Christmas doing ‘separate’ things and brought a heaviness to my heart that was indescribable, even now, a few days later it brings manic tears to my eyes. The making new memories and sharing with friends was what kept me going for the sake of my children and their need to have a joyful albeit disjointed Christmas. We had a great day and what was will never be again but we are moving forward.. little steps. Your 16 things blog also resonates. Thank you

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