Remember a couple of days ago I mentioned getting the book "Simplify Your Christmas"....well, I sat down yesterday and read through it and it sure made a lot of sense. The first thing it said to do is to think about what you like about Christmas. So I'm going to do that right here....not in any particular order....
1. The excitement of finding the perfect gift for someone. In my case I don't think I manage to do that very often but I sure do try!
2. Making things....gifts, ornaments, wreaths, all kinds of decorations and little vignettes to have around the house.
3. "It's a Wonderful Life"....I love that movie and watch it every year
4. The lights and candles and fireplaces all aglow
5. Having my family around me
6. Good cheer and happiness on everyone's faces everywhere you go
7. Listening to Christmas music on Christmas Eve
8. The peacefulness that seems to be missing lately
9. Laughter and fun with friends and family (I guess that's almost the same as #5)
10. Seeing all of it through the eyes of a child
11. The smell of pine trees
12. Wrapping gifts and knowing that I'm going to surprise someone
Then the book said to look back over the list and see how many things you've been doing year after year that aren't on the list. We get caught up in "traditions" that we think we must continue at all costs. But that really isn't true.
I can still enjoy all of the above even if I don't have a Christmas tree filling my living room. I can still enjoy all of those things without driving myself insane with shopping, wrapping, and trying to make everything perfect.
One of the things in the book is "Let Go of What You Think Are Other People's Expectations"....now that one really struck a chord with me. I always tried to give my kids the kind of Christmas I thought they expected....or the kind I thought they wanted. Now my son doesn't even celebrate Christmas....he does the winter solstice instead. And My daughter isn't into all the usual trappings so what did I accomplish for all those years?? I don't feel bad about it but just accept it for what it is....we all need to celebrate things in our own way no matter what Madison Avenue says!
I like all the decorations but I don't like all the mess of dragging everything out, sorting through it, doing the tree (which usually takes HB and me two days to do!!) and then all I can think about during the holiday is that I'll have to turn around and un-do all of it when it's over!! So I think a few well-placed items will just have to do it for me.
The other thing I found astounding in this book was that each year Americans spend $800 million in stamps to send $4 billion in holiday cards!!! And this book was written in 1998 so I'm sure it's even more now. That seems disgusting and completely insane when you think about all that could be done with that kind of money to help people in need.
This year I made all my cards but I think this will be the last year I do Christmas cards. After reading that statistic it just seems ridiculous when most of the time the cards sit on someone's mantel for a week or two and then end up in the trash.
So for everyone out there who has given me encouragement to find my Christmas spirit, I don't think it was ever lost....it was just hidden by a lot of unnecessary stuff that over the years became what I thought I "had" to do. I feel much better now that I've read this book! I can look forward to doing the things I want to do and decorating in the way I want without thinking I've committed some "crime" against "tradition"....