Deck the Halls! – It’s Not Too Early To Think About Simpler Holidays
In the book The Hundred Dollar Holiday by Bill McKibben, the author points out that we no longer need the same things that people did in the past from their holidays. “Since we live with relative abandon all year-round, it’s no wonder that the abandon of Christmas doesn’t excite us as much as it did a medieval serf. We are – in nearly every sense of the word – stuffed. Saturated. Trying to cram in a little bit more on December 25 seems kind of pointless.” If the holiday is meant to provide us with something we lack during our normal life, perhaps a season of quiet and peace would be more special to us.
The Hundred Dollar Holiday and Unplug the Christmas Machine both offer some good advice and ideas about having a simpler Christmas. And here are six things you can think about now:
(Big Hat Tip to Simple Mom)
1. Budget. The “Hundred Dollar Holiday” may seem impossible or awesome to you, but we all need to set some kind of budget for our holiday and gift giving. There is a useful tool here for creating that budget on Simple Mom’s blog.
2. Cards. Of all the traditions, one of the most “old-fashioned” now seems to be sending cards in the mail. And yet, although you may think skipping this is tempting when you are stressed and busy, I find this practice to be one of the most meaningful of the season. And did you know you can order holiday cards from the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee?
3. Decorations. Sure, decorations and lights can really cheer up this dark time of year. But you don’t have to decorate or do anything that doesn’t give you real joy – what decorations really matter to you? An example: I realized that the lights really do help me feel more cheerful. But I don’t need tons of lights, so now I focus on the areas that will matter most to me when I’m coming and going from my house … the path from my car to my front door. The rest isn’t necessary for me.
4. Traditions. There are so many traditions around the winter holidays, and then there is the fact that anything you’ve done twice is now a “tradition”. Sometimes traditions are the anchors that matter a great deal for a holiday – the connections to your family, your past, your heritage, or your values. But sometimes a tradition is just a habit you haven’t thought-through and could really let go of. Stop now and think of your holiday traditions. Which bring you and your family the most joy? Which just stress you out? Choose and be intentional, and go ahead and put the things you really want to do on your calendar, now, so you save time to do them.
5. Shopping. The dreaded trip to the mall during this time of year can be just awful. And you don’t have to do it! There are many ways to avoid shopping for the holidays: just give fewer gifts, give handmade, give experiences instead of stuff, give a donation to a favorite cause, utilize an alternative shopping venue (such as Duck the Malls or other events put on locally), or plan one shopping day and shop at local businesses. And of course there is also shopping on the internet. My husband and I do a “drop and shop” where we drop the kids off with their grandparents one day and then go spend a day together walking around downtown, shopping and having lunch together, and anything we can’t find that day we just do certificates for experiences or handmade items. That one day together is lovely and non-stressful, whereas a bunch of shopping trips would get tiring.
6. The Meaning. And why and what are you celebrating this time of year? Talk about the meaning, and celebrate thatinstead of stuff and busyness.