Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Simple Living during the Silly Season

This time of year is not nicknamed the "silly season" for nothing is it? Here it is, the middle of November and already I'm finding my calendar is getting out of control. This is particularly challenging for someone like me who is recovering from a Nervous Breakdown. The temptation is there to really push my boundaries and "make things happen". Or at least - make myself do things.

I'm finding myself gradually returning to the state I was in before where everything seemed important and I couldn't decide what not to do. It's not easy to maintain a simple, low stress lifestyle in todays culture.

I guess we can't blame the approach of Christmas on all of our busy-ness. Perhaps because our lives are often already full, the extra burden of Christmas activities are what tips the scales. Here in Australia, with it being the conclusion of the school year, we have "end of year" activities added in as well.

My DD had a wind up for her kindermusik classes yesterday, which is why I guess I'm feeling like the pressures of the "silly season" have begun in earnest. For someone who is really only up to going out once a week at best, needing to go out 3 times in the one week is a little too much. Today is my "regular" day for going out. Tomorrow just happens to be the day my DD's class is hosting the primary assembly (her first time ever of being involved in hosting) and so the extra kindermusik break-up yesterday was an activity that tipped the scales in favour of "too busy". So, it's not really "Christmases fault" after all - but poor old Christmas gets the blame.

One thing that has saddened me recently is reading about how some "simple livers" have decided to avoid Christmas altogether. That they're celebrating the fact that they're free from the "burden" of Christmas. To me that's saying that if you take the commercialism out of Christmas, there is nothing left.

How incredibly sad that commercialism has so sucked the life out of Christmas that people don't seem to be able to see any other reason to celebrate it. Now most of you know that I am a Christian and so for me, there really IS so much more to Christmas than spending more money than you can afford on gifts people don't really want, clogging up storage space with way too many Christmas decorations and eating so much unhealthy food that you then turn around and have to pay money to try and lose the weight you gained doing so.

What about those who don't have a "religious" reason for celebrating Christmas? Is the commercial side of Christmas all there is? I don't believe so. The sentiments of "peace on earth" and "goodwill to men" are awesome things to be celebrated.

I have an online friend who claims that her family no longer celebrate Christmas. They've decided to do away with the commercialism that Christmas seems to be closely associated with. I respect their decision to do that. BUT.... here's the thing. Their decision as a family has been to donate a portion of what they would normally "waste" during the "silly season" and donate that money to a charity of their choice. In my mind, they ARE celebrating Christmas. The REAL Christmas. The true spirit of giving.

So, if you're starting to feel a little overwhelmed with the whole "commercialism" of Christmas. Consider that you don't really *need* to cancel Christmas altogether. Instead, let's get back to the true meaning of Christmas. Let's uncover that spirit that has been deeply buried in wrapping paper, tinsel and copious amounts of food and find the spirit of giving. The spirit of forgiving and reaching out to friends, family and maybe even strangers.

To me, Christmas is the perfect time to embrace the concepts of Simple Living. To consider that less really is more. Less overspending leaves us with more money to give to those who really don't have anything. Giving to those less fortunate than us helps us to grow and understand how much we truly do HAVE and how blessed we are. Forgiving others frees us from the bonds of hurt, anger and bitterness. Showing love to others allows us to grow in ways that are beyond our comprehension. Taking time out to get in touch with and/or spend time with friends and family - not because we *have* to but because they're special to us and we want them to know that.

This year, let's have the courage not to "cancel" Christmas but to celebrate in the true spirit of the season! :-)

(I have more I'd like to say on this topic so come back tomorrow for part 2....:-) ).


Ali said...

I like what you wrote Jodi!! To our family Christmas has always been about family time :)

Anonymous said...

We have simplified Christmas in a big way and make a donation to Operation Christmas child each year instead of the outragous amount of money we used to spend on gifts. We now only buy very small token gifts but if someone is stressed or broke, we want their company. Its ok to show up empty handed. I love doing the cooking, but the family all say its not worth getting stressed over and a ham sandwich and potato salad will do if Mum is stressed.

Mimi said...

You truly have the spirit of Christmas... and it can be a wonderful time if we don't allow the Gift Giving to get out of hand...I love to concentrate on the carols...village scenes... and Christmas cantata...
and as long as we remember that "Jesus is the reason for the season" we should not be stressed out but blessed out!!!

Lisa said...

Christmas is nothing without friendship, family of any shape and has so many aspects! L, wanted to send you a bit of fun for your blog....go to and choose the "holiday" tab for a very cute Santa digital clock for your virtual stocking.

Katie said...

Amen, so true.
We can still enjoy decorations and presents and carols - it's the extra things we do that count, like donating to charity, or buying some presents for the Wishing Tree etc. The best feeling at Christmas is being able to celebrate it knowing you have helped someone else have a wonderful Christmas too.

That's what it's all about. :)

Looking forward to part 2.

lightening said...

Ali - thank you. It's great that Christmas for you is about family time. :)

Anon - what you are doing sounds FANTASTIC! I love Operation Christmas Child (that's the same company that do the shoeboxes isn't it? My kids love doing those. It's such a tangible thing to help them understand. We haven't done them this year though for various reasons).

Mimi - I read your comment last night just before I went to bed and it really did my heart good. I love the "blessed out instead of stressed out" phrase. :) Thank you.

Lisa - thank you. I will look for that now. :)

Katie - hope part 2 has lived up to your expectations. Thanks for your comment. :)