A simpler Christmas

December 4, 2013

Hand-delivered today from a friend up north, a fresh green wreath from Harbor Springs. It smells lovely. I'd like to hang it over the mantel, but I know the heat from our wood-burning stove would dry it out all too fast.

It brought a bit of real into my day, as did the stunningly beautiful hawk that landed not three feet from me yesterday, as he lit on our deck railing just outside the kitchen window. Both the fresh greens and the majestic bird countered, for me, some of the irritating, cheap holiday plastic-ness  that is confronting me from all around.

 Here are some ways I try to keep things peaceful and sane when I feel the hurriedness around me, the stress, and the deceptiveness of glossy ads promising happiness and joy.

  1. Drop catalogs in the recycling bin on my way in from the mailbox to the house. Thumbing through them is a waste of time, and can cause dissatisfaction with what I already have.
  2. Stay out of the malls. I can order what I need online, often with free shipping, and charitable giving can be done online, too. Besides, another tinny rendition of "The Little Drummer Boy" on the loudspeakers is going to make me crazy.
  3. Turn off the TV and the news. I can keep up with major happenings online in 10 minutes, tops, and can bypass the shouting, the drama, the ads.
  4. Cut down on baking and decorating and gift-giving, where possible, and spend more time visiting with friends over a cup of tea, or watching a traditional holiday movie with family. We love the original The Bishop's Wife with Cary Grant, It's a Wonderful Life, and Christmas in Connecticut, among others.
  5. Attend a concert of Christmas music at our church.
  6. Keep my eyes open for little "glimpses of beauty" and record them in my gratitude book. I was inspired to start this after reading Ann Voskamp's 1000 Gifts. I just recorded #1013. It has become a beautiful reminder of all of God's blessings in my life.
  7. Just say no. It really is okay.

 One of the most peaceful Christmases I ever spent was when I was pregnant with our second child and on bed rest. Our daughter was three. I couldn't bake or shop or decorate. Nothing. I just sat on the couch and read her stories and sang carols and gazed at the lights on the little Christmas tree my husband had put up. I think we both enjoyed snuggling together on the couch better than all the fancy sugar cookies I could have made or the latest-greatest presents I could have shopped for.

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