G.K. Chesterton said it best “ There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.”
During the busy holiday season it seems most of us find ourselves accumulating more and more, but still not feeling satisfied. We accumulate more activities in our schedules, more expenses for our pocketbooks, more items in our homes, and quite often more stress.
What if this holiday could be different?
I am usually not a fan of “ways to…” or “how to…” posts. I get stressed thinking about something else I need to do that I’m not doing. This isn’t that post. Having moved 6 times in 4 years and living in 3 different cities has given me a passion for simple living. And the whole philosophy behind simple living can apply to the holiday season as well.
Embrace A Simple Christmas Season
The idea behind simple living is to prioritize a few things and cut out the excess. Whether its with food, clothing, space, or activities. As women, wives, and mothers we control the rhythms of our families lives and set the pace for our days. This holiday season we can say no to the excess and hold more space in our lives for peace and those we love.
Simplify gift giving
One of the common stressors during the holidays is gift giving. There is the financial strain of having enough finances to gift everyone in our lives. And not just giving any gift, but the perfect gift. We can often outdo ourselves by competing with others or making the gift we give more about us and less about the person we are giving it to.
Here are a few ways to simplify:
Do you bake? Sew? Write music? Have a niche for salvaging something old and making it brand new? Perhaps there is something you create with your own two hands that you can gift family and friends. Giving a handmade gift shows so much thought and care, and especially that you gave your time to craft something for those you love.
Give the gift of learning
Books are one of my favorite items to give and recieve, because it is a gift that keeps on giving. It can be educational (a how to), inspirational (a book of poetry or a devotional), or maybe the latest non fiction. The benefits of reading and learning are many.
We are desperately trying to make memories this season, so why not give the gift of making a memory together? Movie tickets, concerts, a trip to a museum or special exhibit. I once heard that experiences are the best investment to make because they are the one thing you always carry with you.
Evaluate your commitments
Are you saying yes to things because they are important to you? Or because everyone else is saying yes to them as well? So many fun activities can turn into drudgery if we are merely participating in them to keep up with everyone else.
Pick a few traditions
The holidays are all about traditions. So many are meaningful, beautiful, but also stressful if we try to keep them all. If going to a Christmas tree farm and picking a tree is an annual family tradition that you simply can’t do without then keep it. But don’t feel you also have to make the gingerbread house, decorate shortbread cookies, and make handmade ornaments. Pick a few important traditions for your family and leave the rest for a simple Christmas this year.
Don’t feel obligated to host every event
I want to be the person who always says yes but this can lead to burnout and stress. Don’t promise to host the family get together, school holiday party, and ladies tea. For myself I find that overextending often comes from a fear of missing out. But if I’ve said yes to too much then I am not really present for any of it.
Incorporate giving/generosity as a focus for the season
Growing up my family always went through all of our things like clothes and toys and filled trash bags full and donated them to women's and children shelters. Our son is only 3 but we have already introduced the concept of giving away some of his toys to other children who don't have any. Children are very observant and if they see us cheerfully giving items away they will be eager to follow.
Pick an organization/ministry and make a donation
There are so many amazing missions/ ministries doing so much good that rely on end of the year giving to fund the next year. Go over some things that are important to as a family. Do you care about preserving nature? Helping animals? Ending poverty? Every dollar counts and makes an impact.
Have children pick out gifts for siblings or other family members
We are expecting baby number two this christmas season and I am excited to introduce the idea of picking out gifts for others to my firstborn. If children don't have another sibling maybe they can pick out gifts for family members like grandma and grandpa or maybe friends from school or church.
Think about what you want your response to be this season when you are asked “ How were your holidays?” Do you want to say “fine” or “ I survived” ? Or would you rather say “We had so much fun!” and “We really enjoyed time with our families!”
The holiday season flies by so fast. This year I hope we can all resist the temptation to accumulate what we don't need and instead say yes to less for a truly simple Christmas season. When we say no to excess we create more room for love to grow and peace to be maintained.
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