"We live in a world where life can easily become pageantry, and the best performers make it look balletic and effortless. Of course, there's no such thing as an effortless holiday show. If you sneak a peek behind most people's red velvet curtains at holiday time, you'll often see houses brimming with anxiety, maxed-out credit cards, crying children, and marriages that make the cold war look warm and fuzzy.
"I'm convinced that the only way out of this is by cancelling the show. Not cancelling the holiday, but giving up the show." Brene Brown, Ordinary Courage
Every Christmas for the last three years, I've experimented with giving up the show. Last year, shocking as it sounds, I didn't even bake cookies. Believe it or not, we had a great Christmas anyway. As we gear up for the holiday season this year, I'm making sure that we have time to do fun things, as a family, and focus on only those holiday traditions that help enhance the season and opting out of whatever makes it more stressful. For every holiday "thing" I do, I'm stopping and asking myself, "Is this necessary? Do we HAVE to do this? Who says so?"
Some things I'm simplifying:
1. Simplifying gift wrapping with plain white paper and fun ribbon and simply stamped avery address labels instead of gift tags (only Santa will use printed paper!).
2. Making/buying gifts to ship that fit in small priority mail boxes, which are already at home and ready to fill.
3. Putting money in a pocket of my purse for adding to every Salvation Army bucket I pass.
4. Limiting my outdoor decorating to a wreath on the front door.
5. Limiting my indoor decorating to a few special things (like the ceramic nativity set my mother made) and a tree.
Some things won't change:
1. Cards made by me and a Christmas letter written by George. (I spent way too much time this year making Christmas cards not to mail them, LOL!).
2. Going with the family to chop down a Christmas tree at a local Tree farm.
3. Making sugar plums with the kids to give as gifts to friends and neighbors.
4. Putting out all the Christmas books and reading them with the boys.
5. Welcoming Chris, our Elf on the Shelf, each morning as he returns from reporting to Santa at the North Pole.
6. Contributing to the Giving Tree and Shoebox ministry at our church.
Do you feel the urge to opt out of the show? What can you let go of or change to make Christmas (or whatever winter holiday you celebrate) more meaningful and peaceful, more centered and less commercial? I'd love to hear your ideas!