Every year my husband and I have the same conversation revolving around Christmas. His job keeps him away over the holiday and I want him to come home. He says the money’s too good and he doesn’t like holidays anyway. I pout a bit but the discussion ends.
Because when I stop and think about it, I’m not so keen on holidays either. For me the Christmas season is sapped of joy. Instead of singing carols and celebrating beneath a warm hearth my experience is more frantic. Each year I race around attempting to appear at every holiday function in order to fulfil my perceived obligations. I go from store to house and back again. On dark icy roads. Alone. And I’ve had enough.
This year I’ve found my thoughts drifting to what Christmas means and what it has become for me. When did I buy in to the tradition, consumerism, and stress of the season? When did I take on this secular viewpoint and forget to make celebrating Christ the reason I even bothered with it at all? And when did everything become so complicated?
Christmas should be simple but there’s such a hype about it I’m exhausted before December hits. This year I want to avoid being stuck in a loop of stress and a bad attitude. I want to skip Christmas.
I pitched the idea to my husband who then suggested we get away—since it’s easier to skip a holiday when you’re out of cell range. After a bit of juggling we found a way to make it work and began planning.
As soon as we decided to skip Christmas the burden of the season lifted from my shoulders. While I know 99 per cent of this stress is self-induced, it still took physically leaving to get me to shake it. For this year at least I won’t be shopping, cooking, hosting, cleaning, visiting, or anything else I associate with Christmas.
The closer our trip gets the more I’m discovering it’s not Christmas I needed to escape but the cycle I seem to be caught in. I need to re-focus and I’m not sure how to do it in my current context.
Maybe this year things will be so simple I will have nothing else to think about but Christ and the whole reason we celebrate. And then next year I can come into Christmas with a positive attitude, and an absence of self-focus. Maybe by then I’ll be back on track.
Are You Looking For Ways to Simplify Christmas?
Here are a few suggestions.
- Take an afternoon you would otherwise be shopping and visit a hospital or care home
- Speaking of shopping, what about avoiding those crowded malls and buying online?
- Clean out your closet. Seriously! Chances are, you’ll find gifts you meant to give out last year at the bottom or the top
- Get a silly Christmas sweater and inspire laughter wherever you go
- Instead of purchasing decorations, look in your back yard for pine cones, branches, etc. to spruce your place up. I’ve had great success with gold spray paint, pine cones, and a little ribbon
- Volunteer at a local soup kitchen or gift drive
- Do you really need to send Christmas cards? What about an e-card instead?
- If you go overboard on gifts try the “Three Kings” approach: Something you want, something you need, and something to wear/read
- Don’t spend money you don’t have
- Quit trying to do everything. Say “no”
- Plan your month out on a calendar so you don’t double-book
- Focus on your faith and your family
- Shift your focus from what you don’t have and instead on why we celebrate Christmas in the first place