Friday, November 16, 2012

Minimalism and Christmas

Last year, I gave a gift to a young girl on Christmas Eve, I was excited to see her open the small gift and the delight it might bring to her eyes.  I was informed by her mother that she would not be opening the gift until Christmas morning as she was trying to teach her daughter the "true" meaning of Christmas.  I was hurt to say the least.  I never saw her open the gift, I never knew if she liked it.  I really struggled with this "true" meaning of Christmas.  Is the true meaning a huge gift orgi on Christmas morning?  I don't think so...For me it is sharing love and happiness and joy with one another as we remember the Savior and the gifts He gave to us...

As Christmas is fast approaching I find my soul longing for a minimalist, more simple approach to the holidays.  This is something I have craved for a long time, but often holiday obligations have me overwhelmed and the desire to simplify just flies right out the window.  I have a new resolve this year as I struggle to truly focus on the Season.  Of course for me and my family our focus is on our Savior, Jesus Christ, and his birth.  Often the commercialism and overabundance of well meaning gifts seem to take away from the true meaning.  But, there are so many things that enhance this time of the year.  For me, family, music, smells, sights, food, movies and traditions all enhance the feeling that we often refer to as the "Spirit of Christmas".

I have been researching the topic of Minimalism and Simplifying Christmas this year.  I read a good article and plan to adopt some of these ideas.  My daughter and I have talked about this at length and she is excited to embark on this new adventure with me.  My dear husband is along for the ride.  (Have you noticed that the "Making" of Christmas tends to fall on the women?  Or is that just me?)

As I am still in the research phase, 
please share with me what things have worked for you 
in the past in order to minimize the commercialism and 
more fully embrace the spirit of our Savior in your celebrations.

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  1. I feel the same way that you do. For the last several years we have tried to have a "3 gift" Christmas. Santa only brings 3 gifts to each of the kids. Of course, they also get gifts which they have given to each other. Some of my kids REALLY enjoy thinking of thoughtful gifts to give to each other. This brings the spirit of Christmas for them. They also enjoy the decorations, and we have a special Christmas dinner. I'm trying to incorporate more family activities into the day, so that Christmas is more about the DAY than the gift-opening event.

  2. I am by nature non materialistic ...I just never ever cared about stuff..guess it started because I didn't have $ for stuff anyway and I just made the most of my situation...and even though my kids get lots of stuff...they know it is just fluff.

  3. I was just thinking about this. My family is celebrating our Thanksgiving today. (On Thanksgiving we celebrate with our immediate family or are in-laws). In years past, we always got together either the Friday or Saturday of Thanksgiving week. Why are we doing this? So we can trade names and my sisters can get a head start on their holiday shopping. If you ask me Thanksgiving and what it means (spending time with family) is starting to take a back seat to holiday shopping. It is all a bit much of you ask me.
    Stopping by from SITS

  4. It is a time of year in general that is totally stress-filled and overwhelming and that's the opposite of what it should be. I think you're certainly on track by getting agreement from the ones involved. I wish I had a great nugget of wisdom that will steer you down the right path but I really think you're headed there on your own. Just having the focus on what you want to do and concentrating on the Lord is the perfect start to sincere, heartfelt, memorable Christmas with your family.

  5. I have been working on this for a while now. It's still a struggle. My kids are 14-21. They are old enough to understand but still in a self-centered place (which is a natural developmental stage). They agree in theory to doing and receiving less. But they still want. Trying to find the balance is a tricky thing. Communicating is important.

    I have health issues. This actually helps some. When things become too much I can tell my family that I need to cut back and they can understand why. Before I struggled with my health I would never have thought to cut back. I would just stretch myself to do and become whatever everyone else thought they wanted me to be. I spend a lot more time now focused on what I want to be. I worry less about the expectations of other. And I communicate so they won't be shocked when things don't go the way they wanted.

    I want Christmas to be a special time, not a selfish what-am-I-going-to-get time. I'm thinking I'll have a meeting with my kids soon. I'll ask what the most important aspects of Christmas are for them. I will try to meet one of each child's expectations, but not all of them.

    Thanks for the prompting to think more about this.

    Happy Sharefest. I hope you have a lovely weekend. And an enjoyable holiday season.

  6. To take the Christmas-morning-opening-of-gifts pressure off, you could put the money into an adventure road trip and the kids only get a couple of small things that maybe go with the theme of the trip. Part of the adventure could include visiting kids in hospital or an orphanage (something that you could prearrange). It helps to take the focus off of what did-so-and-so get (like keeping up with the Jones-es)and to appreciate what you have, which is more than most people around the world. God bless!

    Following you back! Thanks for linking up on my blog hop!

    Tina - American mom raising 4 kids in South Africa

  7. You're so right...the "making" of Christmas definitely tends to fall on women!

    I have been in the process of moving toward a more simple, back to basics kind of holiday season for a few years now. We love it. The one place we haven't made any headway with is the grandparents. They can't get over all the excess. The great thing is, even the kids see the excess and dislike it now. They actually prefer our scaled down version because it's honestly more fun and meaningful for everyone!

  8. I always hear people say that Christmas is too commercial and materialistic, as if they don't have a choice in the matter! I agree, for me it's about friends and family, music, favourite holiday movies, sights and sounds... Memories and traditions. Good post! Glad I found you through Sharefest :)

  9. Such a true post with words of wisdom. Christmas has gotten very commercialized. Celebrating with family and friends is a blessing. I am so sorry you didn't get to see the look on the little girl's face. I am sure her Mother meant well, however sharing in the joy as she opened her gift is priceless. I am happily your newest follower.

  10. :) We try as well, but every year we get a little closer. I work on my stress level, it helps with a lot, when I am not stressed, I am more full of joy, I am truly celebrating Christ and the peace of the season, and not stressing about the STUFF. I just wrote a post on home-made gifts today. Hope to see you around the blogosphere! :) New follower, first time visitor from the hop.

  11. When I was a child we made our Christmas gifts for family. We spent weeks and sometimes months trying to come up with the perfect idea that would make someone's day and then actually making it happen. The focus was on what we were giving rather than what we were getting. I still do it.

    And then thank you cards. Too many people don't write (not email) and send thank you cards any more. It's a simple thing but it takes some focus off the give-me attitude.

    Stopping by from MMB.

  12. This is such a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing it on the Bloggers for Christmas link-up. I'm glad to be your newest follower. :)

    One thing I tried to simplify Christmas was by giving gifts that were experiences. So instead of giving someone a gift card to the movies, I actually took them. That way the real gift is quality time and love. It works with little kids, too - I once gave my niece an Auntie & Clarissa Day where we went for a drive, had lunch, and then I took her to the store to buy one present. :)

  13. Thanks so much for linking my article :) We were just talking about it again with the kids tonight and they want to make sure we do a minimalist Christmas again this year... that and go to Grandma's. It is so cool to see the kids excited about fun and family instead of only talking about gifts.

  14. I agree with you! We have been working to simplify, but the grandparents are not on board with that. They like to count presents and make sure everyone has the same #, etc. It drives me crazy! It should be the thought behind it that counts. We have done a "secret santa" with our kids for a few years. They draw names and buy one sibling a gift instead of getting a gift for everyone. It's really fun and they put so much thought into it. We also only get them 2 presents from us. Good luck! I'm sure you will find ways that work for your family!


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