STOP BUYING THINGS (AKA How to Simplify Christmas)

Simplify Christmas 1

(I almost titled this post “Looking Past Thanksgiving,” a little tongue-in-cheek poke at Beth’s wonderful post from Tuesday.)

Over the last few years, I’ve come to dread December. Part of the reason is because I work part-time at a church and December can be like tax season for an accountant if you let it. Add to that the onus of decorating, purchasing gifts, parties, and travel and I find myself tired before the season has even begun. What should be one of the most hope filled, joyful seasons of the year has become something I’m beginning to dread. How messed up is that?

And I don’t think it’s just me. I hear people say things like, “I can’t wait for January 2nd.” Others get upset about coffee cup design at Starbucks. (Really?) Black Friday isn’t enough, now stores are opening on Thanksgiving, because isn’t that what Thanksgiving is all about? We’re thankful we have a day off work to go out and buy things?

OK, time to stop and reign in the cynical… /deep breath/

It doesn’t have to be this way, folks. Christmas doesn’t have to be a season of DOing. I can be a season of BEing.

Do you remember what Christmas was like as a child? The round-eyed wonder of the Christmas tree. Candlelight services. Family gathered around. Christmas lights.

What if we all took a step back this year?

Our kids (and grandkids!) don’t need as many presents as Dudley Dursley on his birthday! What if you gave your kids less? Good friends of ours give 3 gifts to their kids (because Jesus received three gifts from the wise men): something fun, something educational, and something spiritual. Or recently on Facebook, I saw an article suggesting 4 gifts: something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read.

What if you didn’t send out Christmas cards? Or maybe this year you skip the Christmas letter?

What if you only put out a third of your Christmas decorations? Or none at all?

What if you didn’t schedule all those parties? Or maybe skip a few this year?

What if you decided not to buy gifts for everyone you know? Maybe give a card instead? Or tell people you’re taking a year off?

What if you took a break from Commercial Christmas like some people do social media? Instead of going on a Facebook or Twitter fast, what if you took a Christmas fast? Get back to the basics. What is most important to you at Christmas? Spending time with family? Going to church? Watching Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer? Do those things.

What if you replaced gift giving with memory making? Why not write a letter and tell the person why they really matter to you instead of buying them something? Draw a picture? Send them a throwback picture. Go caroling, sleigh riding, bike riding. Make a memory, don’t give someone something to collect dust. Be creative. Use your talents.

Do things because you WANT to, not because they are expected. Not because they’ve become a laundry list of traditions.

Here’s my challenge to you: Make a list of all the things you do for Christmas, and then go through and strike off half of them. Extra points if you get rid of 2 out of 3!

Simplify. Be the dentist and pull all the teeth out of the Abominable Commercial Christmas monster. You’ll be glad you did.

Simplify Christmas

NOW YOU: On a scale of 1 (stress free) to 10 (completely crazy), how hectic is the holiday season for you? What can you cut out this year to make the season more fun and less run? What was your favorite thing about Christmas as a child?