This post comes a little late in the season to do much good, I know, but I wanted to share it anyway.
This year, out of necessity, I’ve had to simplify a lot of our normal Christmas hustle and bustle. I have some major surgery coming up right after the holidays, and I just haven’t had the energy to get things done, and I know I won’t have the ability to get them done afterwards.
Yes, I worried about feeling guilty for not doing as much as usual. But the season continued moving forward, whether I was baking, shopping, wrapping, visiting, and decking the halls with my normal gusto or not, and I found that these trappings really aren’t the things that make the season important or memorable after all. And believe it or not, I haven’t felt guilty about it one bit. Quite the opposite, in fact.
I think it’s interesting to note a little part of the Christmas Story that we don’t dwell on too much – the fact that Jesus Christ, our Lord and King, was born in a stable because there was no room for him at any inn in Bethlehem. Here we have an expectant woman, who had just traveled on a very long and tiring trip, on the back of a donkey, and the entire town of Bethlehem was too busy and too full to find a clean, comfortable room in which she could give birth to her child. King of kings or not, the woman was having a baby, and mankind didn’t care. They had too much going on to bother.
This part of the Christmas Story just keeps tugging at my heart this year, and it reminds me to make room – clear out the clutter, refuse to bring more in, and make room for what’s important – others, loved ones, those in need, and most especially, for time with my Savior.
So, I just thought I’d let you know how I simplified this year, to make room. Maybe you did, too, and this will make you feel in good company. Or, maybe you’ll read this after exhausting yourself trying to do it all this year, and realize that you don’t have to do it again next year. Or, maybe you’ll think I’m a Grinch!
I do hope that no matter how you celebrate the season, that you find room to reflect on the REASON we celebrate this time of year, and to share the gift of love and salvation that our Savior, Christ the Lord, has brought into the world! Merry Christmas! May the Love, Joy, and Peace of the season be yours now and throughout the year!
12 WAYS TO SIMPLIFY:
1. Give the gift of time, not stuff. This is meaningful in a couple of ways. First, it saves you from having the worry of shopping, spending, wrapping, or giving something unneeded/unwanted. Second, it can be a very meaningful way for your family to find new appreciation for one another, especially if you find that you really do enjoy being together. This year, my extended family is planning a summer vacation together instead of giving lots of gifts, all eighteen of us!
2. Cut down your own Christmas tree. This can be turned into a very special family outing and photo opportunity. And, you can save money. We cut ours down from my parents’ family farm this year. The tree is not as full as many of the trees you’ll find on the fancy lots, but we made up for it by hanging the big, colorful bulbs like the ones that we used when I was kid, bringing back so many happy memories. And, we were able to hang our precious ornaments back in the recesses of the tree branches, which is so pretty!
3. Decorate with only half of the Christmas décor you own, and don’t buy any new stuff! This has saved me so much time and hassle! We used half of the ornaments on the tree this year, which means I only have half the
amount as usual to take down and put away! Same goes for the rest of the house, inside and out – and it still looks festive enough!
4. Post your Christmas card to YouTube or FaceBook, or send it out by email. No buying lots of expensive cards, no signing and addressing, and best of all – NO LICKING! And how cute are all of these fun videos and online photographs we’re receiving this year??!!! (I still LOVE receiving your cards and letters through the mail, though – I save them all, always!)
5. Tell Santa to wrap only half of the Christmas gifts – or none at all! How adorable is it to come down to find all the toys and gifts spread out, set up, and functioning, ready to be enjoyed by everyone on Christmas morning! No hassle of wrapping beforehand, and no waste to clean up and fill up landfills afterwards!
6. Prepare Christmas breakfast ahead of time. There are some wonderful sweet breads, breakfast casseroles, and such all over the internet. Find a couple and put them together a day or two ahead of Christmas day and store them in the fridge. Then, all you have to do is warm them up on Christmas morning – easy peasy!
7. Simplify your Christmas dinner menu, and ask others who will be attending to contribute a dish or two. Everyone loves to share their favorites with others at this festive time of year. Okay, you might want to specifically ask that NOBODY brings this:
8. Make a list of the treasured and sacred family and faith traditions, and schedule specific times to work these in on your schedule during the holidays. Nothing irks me more than getting through the season and realizing that we forgot to take the time to go see the beautiful nativity at Church Circle, or that we neglected to watch, White Christmas, The Bishop’s Wife, or It’s a Wonderful Life together!
9. Limit the parties, programs, and pageants you agree to attend or host this year. Say no to everything unless it involves only the nearest and dearest to your lives. I promise you, you won’t feel like you missed anything, and most folks won’t notice you aren’t there. Seriously. They. Won’t. Notice.
10. Pick a few nights to turn off all the electronics, and spend that time together with loved ones doing the simple things, like reading the Christmas Story together, or even acting it out (yes, our crazy family does this!). Play board games, have nightly devotions, make crafts or bake some treats, walk through the neighborhood together to see the neighbors’ lights and deliver some holiday cheer to their doorstep, such as some baked goods, or even just sing them a Christmas carol or two!
11. Record your memories together in special ways. Creating an online photo album together can be lots of fun!
12. MAKE ROOM TO FOCUS ON THE REASON FOR THE SEASON: JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD AND KING! If you do this, and this alone, it’s enough.