Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Simple Suggestion # 244... Simplify your Christmas season

Today I spent a few hours with some gentle folks, leading a workshop about having a simpler, more sustainable and less stressful Christmas season. I've given the Simplifying Christmas workshop for the last seven years or so to many different groups, and today I had the unexpected pleasure of having a repeat participant! She came to me after the workshop asking if I had given the session in a certain place -- and that's when I figured out why she seemed so familiar. What was really lovely was that her 94-year-old mom also joined her, and shared some of her favourite Christmas memories.

As I listened to the dear lady talk about special Ukrainian Christmas foods, time with family and neighbours, and singing Christmas carols in three languages until the wee hours after midnight mass, I found myself yearning for a Christmas that depends less on consumerism and more on community. It's only the last 70 or 80 years that have seen Christmas shackled to shopping, and are we any happier for it?

Many of the so-called Christmas traditions that we now take for granted came out of someone's desire to make money, and generally, they aren't the things that stay in our memory through the years. Can we even recall the Christmas gifts that we received last year? I can't. But I do remember precious times shared with family and friends -- visiting, going Christmas caroling, playing a wild and crazy game of cards, tobogganing or skating, or even just going for a walk together (in our Christmas pajamas!). And what's interesting is that these happy memory moments are much kinder to our earth and its limited resources than the items on the "Christmas Must-Haves" lists compiled by marketers and consumer magazines.

So today, I'd like to suggest that we recall those simple Christmas moments, and consider ways that we can simplify the season ahead. I know I've shared plenty of Simple Christmas ideas in the past that you can read up on below, but if you don't feel like reading, check out the little 4-minute video version ... and have a gentle and joyous Advent and Christmas season...

#1 -- Decorate organically (naturally)
#2 -- Have a happy Advent (observe "anticipation")
#3 -- Have a cookie of a day (cookie bake)
#4 -- Turn off the TV (more time, more peace)
#5 -- Forgo gifts for family togetherness (presence vs. presents)
#6 -- Avoid using credit cards for gift purchases (no Christmas aftershocks in January)
#7 -- Choose charitable gifts (offered by charities)
#8 -- Make your own wish list smaller (remember what you have)
#9 -- Attend an Advent prayer service (anticipation again)
#10 -- Give food gifts (and make cooks happy)
#11 -- Be a secret angel (random acts of kindness)
#12 -- Share the gift of a personal story (family history or something funny)
#13 -- Make a micro-loan gift (support the developing world)
#14 -- Create a family calendar (a photo keepsake enjoyed all year)
#15 -- Give gifts to the homeless (warm socks or other necessities)
#16 -- Plan a few quiet evenings during the Christmas season (relax a little)
#17 -- Give homemade coupon gifts (gifts of time and talent)
#18 -- Take a Christmas stroll (enjoy the outdoors)
#19 -- Consider a community gift (share-able presents)
#20 -- Feed the birds (gift our feathered friends)
#21 -- Hold your own candlelit concert (enjoy music at home)
#22 -- Try something other than wrapping paper (avoid wasting paper)
#23 -- Go carolling (sing for neighbours and friends)
#24 -- Bake a birthday cake for Jesus (and share it)
#25 -- Serve Christmas dinner buffet-style (simplify)
#26 -- Adopt a gifts-in, gifts-out policy (the true meaning of Boxing Day)
#27 -- Play a simple game (parlour games and family interaction)
#28 -- Have a meatless meal (be kind to the animals)
#29 -- Get enough sleep (be kind to yourself)
#30 -- Set up a new Christmas giving box (think ahead)
#31 -- Dance! (enjoy your body's ability to move)

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