Have you hopped on Pinterest lately? It’s a feast for the eyes and the imagination! You’ll instantly be reminded that it’s Christmastime when you see loads and loads of pins with an abundance of ideas — 42 New Traditions to Make Christmas Magical, 239 Ways to Position Your Christmas Elf, 96 Christmas Songs to Download Now, and 63 New Cookie Recipes You Can’t Live Without. So many great resources! I have to admit I love being able to hop on and find new inspiration with just a few keystrokes.
But perhaps the real brilliance is not in finding all the best new stuff to do this Christmas, but in choosing what NOT to do.
Christmas may seem to come earlier every year, but there are still only 24 hours in the day, and you can only run on eggnog and exhaustion for so long.
I’m not advocating a Grinch-like abdication of all things festive, I’m simply suggesting that instead of trying to take in every sparkling thing that catches our eye, we spend a little time thinking about what we really want. It’s back to my usual themes of using intention while also cutting yourself some slack.
It’s about simplifying.
As Tsh Oxenreider says in her book, Organized Simplicity: “Simplifying your life is meant to make things better, not worse. It’s about choices — about saying no to the things in your life that aren’t the best so that you are free and available to say yes to those things you truly want.”
I’m not actually going to enumerate 147 things you can do to simplify (though I’m sure there are 147 at least!) but I want you to think about what the holiday season is really about for you, your kids, your family. I want you to give yourselves permission to say “no” to some of those really amazing, exciting lists, so that you can say “yes” to one or two things that you feel really matter.
That’s not going to look the same to every person, or in every season of your life.
Let me give you an example.
Once upon a time, I was crazy and I made a gingerbread house from real, homemade, gingerbread. I’m talking raw ingredients from my pantry and pieces and parts that required sharp knives, straight edges, and more than a little bit of math to construct. With little kids at the counter, it was quite the undertaking.
I felt very Martha Stewart as it all began, but by the end of the task I realized I needed Martha’s staff as well.
My icing wasn’t strong enough, my walls weren’t straight enough, and not one of us gathered at the counter that day was patient enough.
It was a (now) laughable disaster.
I’ve ridden atop that pendulum swing all the way to the other side of the spectrum. These days, I buy a box of graham crackers and glue them together with my hot glue gun — yes, my hot glue gun — and set the kids loose with store-bought frosting and bowls of candy.
It’s not glamorous and you won’t likely find any of our creations wowing people on Pinterest, but when I took a second to think about what my family really enjoyed about the whole gingerbread house activity, I realized it was about being together, being creative, and –let’s admit it– snitching as much candy as you could in the process.
My kids couldn’t care less about what the house was made out of, and I could care a whole lot more about where I was putting my time.
When I talked about this experience with a friend of mine, she recalled the year she discussed Christmas traditions with her own brood and discovered they didn’t really want to do gingerbread houses at all. It had served its purpose for a season, but they didn’t need it anymore.
I’m sure there are also those who feel the from-scratch-experience holds all the sentiment of the season, and that it’s worth every ounce of work. I’ve just realized that isn’t me. Not right now. And I have decided to make my choices based on that reality, and let all the Pinterest-Perfect expectations fall by the wayside.
There are plenty of other areas where we have to make these same decisions. How the tree gets decorated, whether or not we’ll get a Christmas card out before Valentine’s Day, what to serve for Christmas dinner. And the answer for us may not always seem the simple route for someone else. (In spite of thumbing my nose at homemade gingerbread, I will ALWAYS opt for the homemade route when it comes to rolls!)
What about you?
What could you use less of? Less stuff? Less shopping? Less frenzy?
What do you want more of? More time together? More service? More face to face and one on one?
The answers are different for each person and each moment. But use those answers to select wisely from the abundance of brilliant ideas out there. Say “no” to the perfectly wonderful ideas that don’t really mean too much to you, so that you can say “yes” to the imperfectly wonderful moments that do.
Maybe there’s someone out there who really can’t live without trying all 63 of those new cookie recipes, and some families I’m sure will enjoy seeing every one of those 239 different ways a Christmas Elf can get into mischief. But I think my family’s Christmas will still be merry and bright if we pass for now.
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