Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Simply Christmas

I love Christmas! 

More so in the past decade, than ever before. Why? Because I choose to celebrate it simply. Most of the time I celebrate it quietly at home. I even wrote a blog about Christmas For One five years ago that remains relevant today.  Sometimes I do visit friends or go out of town, but mostly I stick close to home and enjoy the life I've built for myself. It's a simple life and I have simple tastes. In general, I'm a pretty low maintenance gal and I like my Christmases that way.

There was a time when Christmas meant a lot of hassle, trips to the mall, days of cooking, spending more than I should, and running around until I slumped onto the sofa in exhaustion. It was a time of year I didn't look forward to at all, knowing that by New Years I'd be an empty shell emotionally and physically. When I was a kid, Christmas was the time of year when family fights and hurt feelings increased. Usually because of the built-up stress and extra work.

Simplifying Christmas brought back the joy of Christmas.

Although originally a religious holiday, for me, Christmas is a time of remembering my loved ones, giving thanks for my life, and the people in it, and for celebrating good cheer towards others. Something we should do every day, but Christmas seems to bring it out more.

But back to my simplification process:

I don't start celebrating until December. This is a major part of simplification. This doesn't mean I don't buy gifts along the way when I find something fun and on sale, but I do not buy into Christmas beginning in October (or even earlier) and there are no decorations or music or holiday movies or shows in my home until December 1st. Christmas Creep doesn't exist in my life and I despise it in stores and commercials.

No crazy shopping. Come on, folks, this has really gotten out of hand with Black Friday and people camping out in front of stores! I buy few gifts now. Years ago my family decided (wisely) to pick names for the adults and we each buy for all the kids (of which there are only 4).  I also buy for my couple of BFFs, but those are also simple, heartfelt gifts. There is no last minute shopping and buying something just to have something to give. And I stick within my set budget.

I no longer send out Christmas cards. This started when a couple of years in a row I was on book deadline and got all frustrated and upset because I didn't have time to both write and do cards. At that time, my Christmas card list topped 150. After two years of not sending them out, I stopped and never looked back. I've noticed that fewer people are sending cards now. Even at the office, we're getting fewer cards and gifts from clients and vendors.

To party or not to party. I usually get invited to 4-6 holiday parties a year. That's a lot crammed into just a few weeks, and there is no way I can attend them all. This year, for various reasons, I only attended one, my law firm's party. Most years, I manage to make three. I enjoy parties, but again, not when they are going to either stress me out or help me spread germs instead of holiday cheer. I also attend one Christmas program, play, or musical event. This year, I skipped that altogether because my calendar didn't allow it.

Decorations are simple. I used to decorate my home extensively. Now it's a few decorations, a wreath, table cloth, some candles, and a floral arrangement or two to make it feel homey. Again, this started, like the cards, when I had to choose between decorations or hitting a writing deadline. Now I prefer the simplicity.

I know simplification is not for everyone, but it works for me.

Christmas should be a time of peace and remembrance, of celebrating family and friends, not a time for fighting for parking spaces, running up credit card debt, and breaking-point stress.

Christmas is about peace on earth and good will toward mankind.

And there is nothing Bah Humbug about that.

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas 
filled with love, peace, and happiness.

Pablo Picasso's Dove With Flowers


Pearl R. Meaker said...

I've cut back a lot for some of the same reasons.

I'm not good at big mailings, it has always stressed me out, so cards got dropped back in the 1990s. Now I design and send out an ecard to friends.

A big tree went to a 3ft table top with the Christmas Village my daughter painted for me on the table under it. Christmas 2013 when our cat, Flaming Chi To decided he liked pulling the little tree over that went too. Fortunately, I had thought that might happen and hadn't put the village out so all the little plaster buildings survived. Now the village is in a tall display case with a 2ft tree on top of the case. LOL

I now bake only three different kinds of cookies and all but one are easy to make. The fussy one is a long time family favorite that I just can't bring myself to quit making. :-)

I'm definitely with you, Sue Ann, on not liking how early the stores and and advertisers start Christmas. YUCK! The only exception I make allowance for is craft departments in general merchandise stores or in craft stores - if you are making a craft item, you have to start it early, so it makes sense for them to show Christmas items in August and September. But not for commercially made ornaments and other decorations. Wait until after Thanksgiving.

I hope you and all the fans at the Sue Ann Jaffarian Fan Club have a wonderful Holiday season and a Happy New Year! :-)

Mark Baker said...

I start early because I love Christmas. It doesn't mean it stresses me out more, but I love Christmas music and like to listen to it starting in November. I like to put up my trees before Thanksgiving, but I usually don't decorate until after I get back to town.

It should be about what you enjoy and what works for you. And it sounds to me like you very much enjoy your Christmas. Thanks the most important thing.

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

Mark Baker said...

Oh, and I'm with you on the cards. Only ever sent them out once, and I've stopped feeling guilty about it - mostly. There just isn't time with everything else going on during the month.

The only times I've been out shopping on Black Friday is if I were going to be shopping that day anyway (ie. we found something we needed to get for a project) and never in the morning. I completely agree about how ridiculous that whole nonsense is.

Kathleen Costa said...

Christmas has always been special, but not always without drama with a divorce making the celebration difficult to manage to families spreading out across the country. But through those anti-Rockwell moments, we maintained traditions with decorations, favorite foods, sharing with other, and connecting with each other.

Jody Crocker said...

Yes, no Christmas until after Thanksgiving! We usually decorate sometime around the end of the 1st week of December. No big tree on the years we don't host. Makes life simpler. My husband enjoys putting lights around our big screened-in front porch so that's traditional.

We draw names for immediate family: my brother, my 2 daughters, son-in-law, 2 grandsons, my husband & me. My brother, married daughter, and I (with husband) take turns hosting the get-together. This year is my brother's turn. He's making pot roast. I'm taking desserts.
My mother is deceased. My in-laws (husband's Dad & stepmom) prefer low key visits. We saw them a week ago. My mother-in-law is failing in health. NO big celebrations with them.

I cut WAY back on my cards this year. Still sent out a bunch more than I planned on, but some people I'd cut from the list sent us cards & I reciprocated. I printed out all my own cards this year with my own design.

I never shop on Thanksgiving or Black Friday (which seemed to suddenly be a month long
marathon this year; Black Friday-day-day-week-month)

stevenjared0853 said...

It is a nice idea dear but you can also hire an affordable venue it can save your expenses. I explored Los Angeles venues for my Christmas party. Everyone loved and praised me for my selections and you can get that also in a very limited budget.