The holiday season is almost here. You’ve probably noticed that most major department stores already have their Christmas items on display. That’s no accident. Each year it seems like they push Christmas on us a little earlier. They want you to spend money. They want you to buy, buy, buy. This year, I challenge you to simplify the holidays.
When I was a kid, our family didn’t have a lot of money. We kept Christmas simple. Most years we had a tree, but many of our decorations were homemade. We also limited our gift giving. We gave no more than one gift per family member. We kept most gifts under $10. Those are still some of my favorite Christmas memories.
Thanksgiving and Christmas are both right around the corner. Today, I’d like to offer a few ideas to help you simplify the holidays. Last year, I intentionally gave up two-thirds of my Christmas decorations. This year, one way I’ll simplify the holidays is by downsizing the glitz.
Simplify The Holidays By Intentionally Cutting Back
But there’s more to it than that. You also start to simplify the holidays when you take time to remember the real reason they exist in the first place. You start to simplify the holidays when you put people before presents and love before lust.
Six Ways To Simplify The Holidays
- People before presents: We like to convince ourselves that we buy presents to make others happy. If we’re honest, we often buy presents because we’ve been programmed to buy. How many times have you found yourself buying more than you planned for a loved one, especially kids? How many things have you seen go relatively unused? Try this: Spend time instead of money. Give of yourself, not your wallet.
- Love before lust: Let’s face it. We lust after stuff. I have a ten-year-old daughter, Annie. Annie has received some pretty big gifts for Christmas over her short life. I’m partially to blame, but other family members have gone over the top. When we promote getting stuff as the primary reason for the season, we teach our children to lust after material possessions. What if, instead of giving stuff, we spend more time showing our love through our deeds?
- Memories before money: My childhood memories of Christmas primarily consist of being with my family. We may not have had a lot of money, but we shared a lot of memories. I’m considering taking short, memorable vacations during future Christmas seasons. It’s just my daughter and me and it seems silly to spend loads of money on decorations, food, and gifts. Can you think of ways to create special memories with your family without all the hype?
- Fun before food: Thanksgiving and Christmas both put a lot of emphasis of food. If we’re honest with ourselves, we feast like pigs during the holiday season. A little food can go a long way. Instead of going overboard with eating, consider having fun with some food and craft projects. Work together to create homemade decorations and simple meals that represent the spirit of the season. Last year, Annie and I made two game hens for Thanksgiving instead of a huge turkey. We still had plenty to eat and we had fun preparing the meal together.
- Singing before spending: Have you ever had a year when Christmas felt mundane? You can’t seem to find the spirit of the season. You find yourself rushing around spending money. You find yourself stuck in traffic. You get fed up with it all. I’ve discovered that I really feel the Christmas Spirit when I make a point to sing. Choose a few of your favorite holiday songs and make a point to sing them throughout the season. Singing brings people together. I usually work with a small musical group each year to put on a community concert at our church. You might decide to go out and sing holiday songs at peoples’ doorsteps. Whatever you do, when you sing before your spend, you’ll be happy you did.
- Christ before commercialization: Let’s not forget the true meaning behind the season. You don’t have to be a Christian to recognize Christ’s birth. You don’t have to be religious to see that we have put too much emphasis on decorations and gifts. What would you think if we celebrated the Buddha, or Mohammed’s birth with the same sort of commercial vigor in which we celebrate Christmas? It would be silly and some might even be offended. I believe that Christ dwells within us. Seek Christ within your own spirit instead of putting up flashy decor, including stars, crosses, and wise men.
Christmas Is A Special Time
It’s a time to draw close to our loved ones. It’s a time to share with friends, family, and those who are less fortunate. It’s a time to sing and rejoice for the gift God has given us in Christ. Rethink how you celebrate the holidays this year. Stop overdoing Thanksgiving and Christmas and simplify the holidays.
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