Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Simplified Christmas

Receiving this book for my birthday last summer started me on a journey to simplify and declutter our home and our lives.  I will be telling you more about this journey as we go along, but I've been spending some time reflecting (isn't that what new years are for?) on some things I did this past Christmas season that proved helpful in simplifying what is a very busy time of year.  Here are a few things I did:
  • No gifts under the tree:  After reading this suggestion on a blog I enjoy, I decided to not put gifts under the Christmas tree until the night before they would be opened.  My hope was that it would be easier for all of us, but especially my children, to stay focused on the reason we celebrate Christmas and not just on the gifts we would be receiving.  Having the gifts there for days, even weeks on end, is pure torture for my gift-loving children.  Not having them there, however, worked wonderfully--I plan to continue doing this in years to come.
  • No cards until after the New Year:  In years past, I have added "send Christmas cards and letter" to my ever-growing list of things to do during that crazy busy time leading up to Christmas Day.  It usually just adds stress, and I don't enjoy the process like I want to (I like adding personal notes to my cards/letters rather than mailing them straight off the printer).  This year, with no guilt attached, I chose to see how things went and do it when I had time--which ended up not being until after Jan. 1.  I am preparing to send them out this week and hope our friends and family will enjoy receiving our New Year's greetings!
  • No guilt over gift sacks instead of wrapping and bow: If I had all the time in the world, all of the gifts I give would be boxed, gift wrapped, and tied with a fluffy, perfectly coordinating bow.  Guess what?  I don't have all the time in the world!  When it came time to wrap gifts for whatever holiday gathering we were attending, if I had the time, I wrapped the gifts and topped them off with bows.  If I didn't have the time, I chose gift sacks for the gifts and did not let myself feel guilty for doing so.  It didn't seem to dampen the spirits of those receiving the gifts, either!
  • No "obligation" decorations:  Our family hosts an open house (we live in a parsonage) the first Sunday of every December for our congregation.  In years past, I always put pressure on myself to 1) put out ALL of my decorations, with no regard to whether I loved them or not; and 2) to put decorations in every room of our home, because you just never knew who was going to wander back into the master bathroom and be appalled to find there were no Christmas decorations in it!  I changed my tune this year.  First of all, I only put out the decorations that I wanted to and that I LOVE.  If it wasn't one of my favorites or had no significant meaning to our family, it ended up in a box that will soon be taken to our local crisis center.  Secondly, I allowed myself to be free to decorate where I wanted to and not decorate where I didn't want to.
  • No procrastination on thank yous:  This was one of the best things I did for myself this year.  In year's past, I began keeping a list of gifts received when the holiday season began.  Being a pastor's family and being a part of a kind, generous congregation, we are blessed with many gifts throughout the holiday season.  In my free time (you know how much of that there is during Christmas), I would sit down to a long list of gifts received and write the thank you notes.  I am a stickler for sending thank yous, so I would never consider skipping it, but it was such a chore and so daunting to sit down to that long list.  So this year, I purposed to write the thank you note THE DAY we received the gift.  (I usually did not mail it for a day or two--I don't want it to be completely apparent how Type A I am!)  The most I ever wrote in one day was two or three, and never did I feel like it was a burden to write them.  Why didn't I think of this before now??  This will be my mode of operation from now on!  The only thing I didn't do was require this of my kids--I just made a list of their gifts, and we've been working on them now that we are back at school.  Next year, they will be writing their thank yous the day they receive their gifts as well.  That will make it easier on all of us!
Do you have a favorite tip for simplifying the Christmas season?

1 comment:

Stepp Family said...

Love this, love you, and thanks for sharing. I wasn't intentional about not putting gifts under the tree until Christmas eve this year, is just happened that way, and it was wonderful for us, too! Great suggestions, Karen! Thanks!