If we can just make it through the holidays!
Have you ever been guilty of saying this?.
What if you didn’t have to make it through the holidays?
What if you could slow down and enjoy this season? What if you could savor your time with loved ones and appreciate the little things that make this the most wonderful time of the year?
How to Have a Simple Christmas
Our Christmases have gotten smaller and smaller since starting down the road to minimalism. Each year, we have shed a few more decorations, piled fewer gifts under the tree, and trimmed off more of the stress that comes from over scheduling and over spending.
What are the three things that we run low on and thus, cause the most stress?
Take responsibility– In years past, I have gone overboard with the number of gifts under the tree. Moving to the other side of the world has changed our perspective in so many ways. This year, we have put thought into each item we have bought. We have considered what the kids need and what they will actually use and enjoy, instead of reaching an arbitrary number of gifts for each child.
One of the main motivations for our gift selection has been the realization that everything we buy has to end up somewhere:
1. We keep it and add to the amount of clutter around us. Only to pack it up and carry it with us when our time in American Samoa has come to an end. Whatever we decide to keep will literally be a weight we have to carry.
2. We will allow it to clutter our lives for a while and try to sell it later, most likely for less than we bought it, losing money in the end.
3. We will throw it away, decreasing our funds and increasing our contribution to the world’s waste. After our walk along garbage trail, this has been high on our minds.
Give your kids responsibility– Earlier this year, we changed the way we pay our kids’ allowance. We increased their responsibilities and increased their pay, with the understanding that they are responsible for purchasing everything they need, including gifts for others.
I have watched their understanding of the value of money growing with the realization of how much things cost. Now they look at their own possessions with a new sense of value and understanding. I have also seen a great show of love as the kids have looked, not for the cheapest gifts they could find, but for the gifts that would be most appreciated, while staying within their budgets. They have learned that bigger is not always better and have gained a greater understanding of what goes into the gifts they receive from others.
With so many fun and creative holiday ideas on Pinterest for decorations, games, food and traditions, a person could go crazy trying to do it all. This year, I decided to ask the kids what their favorite tradition is and we have been focusing on those few things that mean the most to them.
Hadley said her favorite tradition is hanging stockings. Of all the clutter that we are avoiding this Christmas, I can give her this one thing.
Holden chose making gingerbread houses. That always makes a big mess and its a lot of work, but he will not be excited about making these forever. Plus, we kept it simple and used graham crackers and store-bought (clearance) frosting.
I chose for Kip. We made Christmas cards to send to family. He loves every kind of art project and his grandparents love seeing his sweet artwork, and that of his siblings.
In general, we work to keep our schedule open, allowing us freedom to choose our activities and enjoy our island home. This season has been no different. We have had two Christmas parties on the schedule, one for the whole family and one for the kids with our home-school group. Otherwise, we get to come and go as we please.
As Christmas looms ever closer, I look around our house and see just a few simple reminders that it is the holiday season.
The kids made a small, paper Christmas tree that is hanging on our wall, with some homemade decorations made from paper, glue and glitter. It was the most fun they have had in decorating the tree. They had fun making a mess, then we got to clean it up. There will be no tinsel or glass balls drifting around the house, making their way into little nooks, only to be found months later, after storing the Christmas clutter.
Do I sound like a Grinch? Maybe, but we have still found it easy to feel the Christmas spirit, even without all the trimmings. We have been playing holiday music and watching holiday movies. We have been talking about the birth of our Savior and the kids have needed no physical reminders to feel excitement for the coming of Santa.
And so, we enjoy our simple Christmas celebration, with our homemade tree and minimalistic decorations. We have our handful of thoughtfully bought gifts. We are dedicating this holiday season as a time to be together and to celebrate all that we have and all that is good in the world.
I hope that we can all find peace and happiness in this season of love.
Tell me what you do to keep your holidays simple and enjoyable. Really, I want to know, because we can all do a little better.
Samoan Language Study
Merry Christmas- Manuia le Kirisimasi