Every Christmas I see pictures of brightly lit Christmas trees surrounded by mountains of presents inside elaborately decorated homes. I see videos of Christmas shoppers standing for hours in crowded malls and checkout lanes. I won’t criticize anyone who enjoys the bustle and excitement of Christmas shopping, but I have never wanted to spend the holiday in that way.
Instead I prefer to create a simple, quiet Christmas of few gifts but many meaningful memories.
I don’t really decorate. My daughter grew up in apartments where we had limited space and little money for trees and tinsel. For years we had a two-foot table-top tree that my daughter decorated with tiny ornaments and lights, and that was adequate for our cozy home.
Though we have a larger home now and more room to decorate, we also have a high-energy dog who leaves a path of destruction everywhere she goes, and I don’t feel the need to fill the living room with decor and greenery I drag out of the boxes in the garage. This year I draped my corner shelf with garland and white lights, hung a wreath on the door, and declared that enough for me.
I buy few gifts. We already have too much stuff. Everyone in my family has much more than we need, and I don’t want to add to the burden of unnecessary possessions. Every time we have moved, I’ve donated carloads of kitchen gadgets to Good Will, unloaded bags of clothes and boxes of books on friends and family, ditched leftover furniture in apartment dumpsters, and generally gotten rid of more than my share of excess. I cringe to think of the wasted resources we throw away every year and I don’t want that amount to increase.
I don’t want gift giving to be the focus of my Christmas celebration, so I give my daughter and son-in-law one gift each, a gift card, and a few odds-and-ends. A few others I care about receive a gift and many good wishes. I don’t expect anyone to buy me more candles and figurines to fill my dusty shelves. I know that with the love of a few friends and family members, I have everything I need.
I concentrate on spending time with people. I like to cook, and I enjoy planning quiet dinners, gathering the family, and watching old movies together. I appreciate going to parties and events, and spending my time talking with old friends and coworkers who share my life throughout the year.
This year I hope to attend the Christmas play written by my friend Susan and produced by her church. I will spend time in my own church remembering that the birth of Jesus is the reason we celebrate the Christmas holiday at all. And I will be grateful for the gifts I have already received: my home and my loving family, supportive friends and encouraging colleagues, the feeling of meaning and purpose in my life, and the hope that the future will be even better in the years ahead.
This year I pray you celebrate Christmas in the way that is most meaningful for you. I hope you receive all you wish for this holiday season.
How do you like to celebrate Christmas? What traditions do you enjoy?