So I got rid of all our christmas decorations this past year. Well, most of them. We kept a small box of sentimental things, like marlowe’s first ornaments or gifted ornaments of special value– but that was it, boxes of decorations were shipped off to my brothers house and to Goodwill. Just like I said we had, we decided Christmas didn’t really fit our family, so it didn’t make sense to keep the extra clutter either. So much purging this year. This felt right. It still feels right.

The thing is, there are parts of Christmas we do enjoy. The decorated houses that make the neighborhood a bit magical. The family dinner we have– you guessed it, with family. And like Marlowe said last week, the lights make people happy, its good to spread that. I agree. I think I mentioned this last year, but my family (dad, step mom, brother, + sister in law), we had all sort of came together (separately) and decided gift-free christmas was best. That doesn’t mean I’ll show up at my brothers and there will be an empty tree, I’m sure there will be a gift or two gifts for the(ir) kiddos or from santa, but thats okay. I’m just grateful that we can show up with a few dishes of food and a smile and celebrate this holiday season with them. And everyone is more than okay with that. We’re happy with that. A while back my step mom mentioned maybe doing a family trip to Orlando next month– and I think that would be perfect. We always choose experiences over material things. Memories are forever, right? (Side note: there’s actually been many studies on happiness done and the findings always show that the people who choose experiences over items tend to be MUCH happier in life! 🙂 So get out there!)

I guess the thing is, the part I’m having trouble with is Marlowe being 5, still a sometimes believer in Santa and magic. We were at my brothers about a week ago as they put up their tree and started unpacking christmas items. Our old items were there too. Marlowe seemed happy to see them there and not bummed they weren’t at our house. This was good. But the elf showed up and Marlowe says, “our elf! can we bring him back home?” And I say yes. I think sure, whats one elf going to do? But the next day she places the elf on our kitchen counter, looks at me and says, “so, he wont be there tomorrow, right? He’ll be somewhere else in the house?” And in my head there was a dramatic and comedic scream of “NOOOOOO!”And it starts. And I tell her, “I’m just not sure.” Because I’m just not sure. Do I play into it or do I open up now? And I just let him sit there. But when she woke up in the morning— well, the elf was in a different spot. And she was excited. And the next day too. And it continued this way for about two more days– until one day she looks at me and asks, “why hasn’t the elf moved?” (He stopped for two days). I told her, “the elf was probably super tired.” and since that day, well, sometimes he moves and sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes she mentions that she thinks he’s fake. Sometimes she’s so excited to see him appear somewhere else. And I feel this way too. Really just torn.

Marlowe’s not expecting presents this year. We’ve gone over Christmas a few times with her and how different people celebrate different things and for us, we celebrate love and family. She’s not mad at all. She’s not sad. She says it often too us– she tells us, she has enough toys. Somehow at five, she get’s it— maybe better than most adults. But I wonder, just because I don’t want the consumerism part of Christmas in my life, does that mean I don’t want the magic? Or that she shouldn’t have the magic?

I’ve debated for a week or two what would be my next move. There were no santa threats this year. To be honest, we didn’t really need them– she’s been SO good. And she hasn’t really said she’s expecting anything from him– but I can’t help but wonder, what happens christmas day now that the Santa thing has been in our life in previous years? Does he disappear and the magic is gone? Does he not appear and she’s left wondering if she was skipped for a reason? It’s all somewhat silly really. But I love her magical little heart.

And so today I went out and bought her something small she could love. A small set of twinkling lights to hang on her bed canopy and a wand— you know, for her magic. And I do plan to wrap them up with love, from santa. Something I’m still on the fence on– talking to myself back and forth about. Sure, it would be okay to skip it, but the thing is, I know it wont last long, this santa thing. And I’d rather just hold on until this stage passes. I mean, I hated the baby stage and I lived through that— so this (not really bad any way part) won’t kill me either 😉

I came home to a tiny tree sent from my mom. And while, I wouldn’t have chosen to include that in our home, I’m not mad either. I’ve really been able to just let things be this year. There will always be things I can’t change and I just have to embrace them, make the best of them somehow, and keep moving forward. This year went nothing like planned. NOTHING. From the beginning to the end of it, everything has been shaken hard. But it’s all okay. And it’s all going to be okay. Christmas or no christmas, santa or no santa, I’m just looking forward to spending whatever days I can with the people I love most and the people who love me most.

So for us? Alex is working until the 30th this year– so lunch or day adventures with him. Christmas dinner with Marlowe with my family at my brothers on the 26th. Enjoying friends in town. And I’ll see my mom come January. This works for me.  
The world just keeps moving every day as it should, and I have no control over everything— and I don’t want to have control over everything, really. And whether that means unexpected gifts from people who care for us or whether there’s an elf or santa flying around, I’ll just go with the flow of it. I’m grateful to just be well and alive and this month. And whether it sounds ridiculous or not, I’m just grateful to be grateful for all of it.

ps. the elf’s name is sparkle. he says hello to you. he says you’re welcome too. 


  1. I get the Christmas dilemma. On one hand, the whole holiday scramble to buy buy buy grosses me out completely, and on the other, I still get giddy when the whole neighborhood is lit up with lights and looks positively magical.

    I think you do what's right for your family, and it sounds like you're striking a nice balance. I don't have kids, but I've thought sometimes about how I'd handle Christmas if I did. I read this little rhyme somewhere – something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. I liked that, and I think it's what I might gravitate towards.

  2. As someone who never really celebrated Christmas as a child, I have definitely wondered about how I'll do the holidays with my future husband and kids, so I really enjoyed reading this post. I can only hope that my future kids are as understanding as Marlowe is and not upset that they didn't get as many presents as other kids they know 🙂

    Love your blog and Instagram, and I hope you have an amazing year ahead!

  3. beautiful post! Couldn't agree more in regards to your feelings about Christmas and the magic of it all.

  4. Checking in to finally comment on this post while enjoying lots of down time this week. I've been wanting to tell you how much this post uplifted me right before Christmas. I'm not sure if I can put it into words exactly why.. I just always appreciate your authentic voice and how you navigate choices and values and all that.. It was neat to hear how you maintained your new direction with the holidays while also letting a form of magic be integrated for Marlowe:) And the part that really struck me was how you are working on letting things be. I headed into my holidays with the same wish for myself that I could embrace what is and just let things roll. I've done so-so with that but it's made my Christmas so much better, thanks for the nudge.

    Also, I received your cookbook for Xmas and it's exactly what I've been needing for years I'd say. When you first announced you were writing a book I was so stoked, because when I see how you eat and live I'm so inspired. I see the love and enthusiasm you put into nourishing your family and it excites me for my own family's potential for quality of life. Anyhoo. If a cookbook can be thrilling and moving and just really a form of art to be deeply enjoyed and appreciated, your cook book is that for me. I'm so grateful. Thank you so much, Drea, Alex and Marlowe. Blessings for 2016, friends!!

  5. Christmas, Santa, elves or not – we love you! Appreciate hearing your thoughts on everything too 🙂 Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

  6. Too sweet, I never knew what the elf on he shelf was all about- but I'm sure Marlowe will appreciate a few small bits of magic. These days I'm more likely to go for experiences as gifts- a hotel voucher for my Mom and Dad to get away for a weekend of relaxing, an audible subscription for my sister- things to show I love them without filling our lives with unnecessary stuff. Have a great holiday season 🙂

  7. wow. love this post. partly because i'm with you about xmas – we dont celebrate or believe – and so i feel like a tiny boat in a vast sea of celebrators. they all look at me like what the hell is wrong with you. on top of that, we already told our 3 year old that santa isn't real. yeesh. i just don't want to lie to my kid, even for magic's sake, theres so much awe on reality. but this is soooo counter culture that i'm treading in unknown territory – i have no idea how to progress. so again, love this post. it helps me to hear someone else's story.

  8. Well done you for not getting caught up in the Christmas madness. It would be nice if more people were strong enough to say no to it all. Marlowe sounds so very bright and happy, a really wonderful thoughtful little girl. I know she'll be thrilled with her gifts. All the more so for not having dozens of things. It's the best way to be. I hope you have a lovely time with your family. CJ xx