My daughter was married three years ago in an early December evening wedding. It was simple elegance filled with personal charm.
Sandwiched between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it was filled with twinkly lights and celebration.
When you really stop to think about it, it wasn't just a wedding. It was a wedding in December. That meant Christmas was going to be different.
With so much talk these days about minimalism and simplicity, it has become popular to cut back on spending and gathering unwanted possessions. For us, it was a matter of necessity that led us to scaling back our Christmas.
The wedding and a trip with friends to relax after the wedding ended with Russ getting a nasty virus. Even if we did have the money to splurge, we didn't have much time.
We felt the difference.
Less gifts, no parties, fewer goodies baked and almost no tree. (We did get a tree last minute. We didn't need to drag out the stand. We just put it up on the wooden stakes it came on and put up the "special ornaments" with just a small gold ribbon laced through for color. Instead of digging through the boxes for the usual tree skirt, I grabbed a piece of fabric from the craft room).
We spent more time together, listened to more Christmas music and indulged in the laughter of our loved ones.
Less shopping, less stress and less pressure to perform.
That morning, my newlywed daughter made my Mom's Breakfast Casserole that years ago received the nickname, "Christmas Quiche.” She seemed delighted to take over the duty and I was happy to pass it on.
With her husband of three weeks by her side, we all delighted in digging through our stockings and exchanging the few gifts we had. There were giggles and laughter. Sweet gratitude was the most wonderful gift of all.
The next year we chose to have a "Second-Hand Christmas.” My daughter and her husband were out of town with their family, so that left three of us. It was really quiet.
There were two rules:
- We could only buy something from thrift/second-hand stores.
- We had to make it ourselves. We could take an old unfinished project that had been laying around, finish it and present it as a gift. Not only was this cost effective, but it doesn't contribute to adding more "stuff" to the house. I'm finding that the more stuff I own the more it owns me.
It was a treasure hunt. We sifted through stores and came up with ideas that we thought each other would enjoy. The anticipation was greater than ever as gifts were opened, laughter filled the room.
Another idea is having an “Up-cycled Christmas.” You can find items from the used building supply store and make something new. I have a friend who takes old shutters and makes window boxes, key holders and other useful items around the home.
Each year we still open our special ornaments. Some of these baubles celebrate a milestone in the lives of our children. Others mark the passing of someone we love dearly.
They all bring meaning to our celebration of peace and the gift Christ brought to this earth.
This won't change: we won't open packages until someone reads Luke chapter two. Then we dig through stockings as we sip steaming coffee sweetened with our favorite holiday flavor.
After exchanging those things we've made, we follow by eating Christmas Quiche while watching The Polar Express.
Someday we will work a party back into our plans. For now, simplicity is our “new normal.” The things we want to do have begun to outweigh the things we felt like we had to do.
This year I will seek peace. Peace in my heart, my life and my world. My prayer for you this year is to find peace as well. If it means changing the way you do things, spending less, creating more and focusing in on the Prince of Peace, I'm willing to do it.
Do you crave a simpler Christmas? What traditions are you committed to keeping? What are you willing to trade in to experience peace?
The things we want to do have begun to outweigh the things we felt like we had to do.