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Simplifying the Season

December 5, 2009

We tagged our Christmas tree today. Couldn’t take it home with us just yet…there’s some rearranging that we need to do first, before we can fit it in our living room. But finally we’re getting started on the holiday season. This afternoon, we’ll pull a few boxes of decorations down from the attic space. Later this week, we’ll take home our tree, and a few more boxes of decorations will come down then. 
I love the holidays. I love the decorating, the cookie baking (and eating!). I love the endless loop of Christmas songs on the radio. I love the gathering together of family, and of friends that should be family.

I’m trying to let go of the stress, and the expectations that put a damper on the season. Every year I wind up panicking over gift giving — is it enough? Did I spend too much? Did I not spend enough? Will they like it? Is it the perfect gift?  Over and over again, during each shopping expedition, over every gift for every recipient.  I’ve brought myself to tears, I’ve worried and agonized and stressed, I’ve had buyer’s remorse, I’ve second-guessed myself.  Every.  Single.  Year. 

I can’t do it this year. 
I won’t do it this year.  
We have made a conscious decision to scale back on the holiday gift-giving craziness.  Partly due to financial reasons, but mostly because of what it ultimately does to the holiday itself.  We’re striving for a simpler holiday, with the focus back where it belongs: on family, traditions, and the true meaning of Christmas, rather than just on the presents. 

We’re still giving gifts…although not as many, and with a smaller budget.  We’ve talked with our families about our need to scale back on the gift exchange.   And as far as shopping is concerned, I’m not allowing myself second-guessing this year.  I’m letting go of the need to find the “perfect” gifts.  Once a gift is bought, it’s getting wrapped and crossed off my list.  No stress.  No anxiety.  No self-inflicted drama.  I’m not allowing it to affect me like that this year.

We’re going to spend this holiday season beginning the traditions that we’ll be able to look forward to each year as a family, such as picking out our tree at a local cut-your-own farm. These are the moments that make memories, not the frantic search for the elusive “perfect” presents.


7 Comments leave one →
  1. December 5, 2009 9:16 pm

    This year, I couldn’t think of a thing to get my sister and BIL. She is newly pregnant, but does not want baby stuff just yet (she’s only about 6 weeks pregnant right now), they have a tiny apartment and despise clutter, etc., so I, “bought” (as in, donated money for) the tools for a clean water supply for a family of 5 in an impoverished country. I hope that they will prefer that to useless crap I normally get them, I would love for someone to do that on my behalf, and she has been sponsoring a child since she was in highschool, so I know this is where her head is, but I do wonder if they will be annoyed that they don’t have their own gift, and I’m wondering if I should have done a gift card.

    But, I feel good about that gift, and am considering starting a tradition with them where instead of gifts for each other, we donate on each other’s behalf.

    • December 6, 2009 6:22 am

      I love that idea! I don’t think it would fly with either my family or my in-laws, though. They all really get into the gift-giving/getting part of the holiday! But I love it — one of my preschoolers once donated money to Heifer International in my name (it was rabbits!). And several families had planted trees in my name rather than giving gifts. I thought that was pretty cool — much better than the piles of candles, bottles of body lotions, or boxes of candy that were the typical teacher gifts.

  2. December 6, 2009 4:29 pm

    I asked for something similar from my mom once, but she said that money is so tight, I’m getting so little, she wanted the joy of actually buying for me. But, I think my sister might go for it. But, with my sister being pregnant now, we may do like my parents did and stop buying for each other, and only buy for each others’ kids next year, we’ll see.

  3. crnnoel permalink
    December 6, 2009 8:10 pm

    Good for you for not letting the stress get you down this season 🙂 It takes some restraint, and much belief in your convictions, but I think it’s worth it. I can’t tell you how less stressful I’m feeling after changing the way we’re doing Christmas.

    • December 8, 2009 10:44 am

      I have to tell you, your posts on how your looking at Christmas this year has been very inspring to me. Thank you for sharing your take on it, because that’s been the little nudge I’ve needed to finally make the changes I’ve been considering for a while now.

  4. December 9, 2009 2:27 am

    Love this post! Love the decision to not second-guess and not stress – and to put the focus where it belongs.

    Though I had to laugh… because that lovely tradition of picking out a tree at the local tree farm… was probably more stressful than picking out the perfect gift for someone, LOL! My hubby is quite the perfectionist when it comes to noble firs – who knew?!?!

    Thanks again for the post…


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