This Christmas was probably the least stressful Christmas I’ve encountered in several years. Every year there is always something, it seems, whether it’s traveling, having lots of company, or just trying to get everything done. But this year, we weren’t traveling, we didn’t have company, and a tight budget made for a very short Christmas to-do list. While it was sad to not be near family during the holidays, Brandon, Job, and I really enjoyed just being with each other and starting our own traditions. And while I really enjoy exchanging gifts, decorating, baking, and all the other Christmas preparations, I also enjoyed having limited activities and not feeling so stressed. Here is my list of resolutions:
1. Gift-Giving Principle My mom passed this rule-of-thumb onto me: one gift of books, one gift of clothing, and one gift of a fun item. There is an endless amount of stuff that can be given as gifts, but at some point, the budget cries out to be adhered to. This principle helps me decide what and how much to give (obviously this applies to immediate family).
2. Minimal Activities We weren’t invited to any Christmas parties this year (it’s okay, I’m not asking for a pity party, and I know that it’s not because we don’t have friends, my Facebook page tells me that I do have friends!), and I found it really refreshing to not have one more thing to juggle or bake for. I’m certainly not against Christmas parties and fellowship, but I think in the future, it would be wise for us to make sure that we choose one or two Christmas parties and/or activities to attend for the season.
3. Stick to Favorite Decorations This year with a razor thin budget for anything extra, the only Christmas decorations we spent money on was a Christmas tree. We put up some white lights in our doorways, and I hung a string of ribbon to attach Christmas cards too. That was the extent of our Christmas decorating. This was nice because we could focus on a few decorations that we really enjoy, and I wasn’t dragging tons of paraphernalia out of the attic and trying to find places for lots of Christmas nick-nacks. And since I was doing hardly any shopping, I wasn’t feeling the pressure from the stores to buy all kinds of cutsie but needless decorations.
4. Simple Gifts In the past, one of the biggest stressers at Christmas time was a long gift list, family, friends, co-workers, the mail man, and so on. I think that a lot of times we give because we feel obligated to give. But most of us don’t have the time or resources to give a very nice gift, so we end up feeling stressed trying to find or make an inexpensive gift. This year, I just chose something small, like a bar of chocolate, to give to some of the non-family people in my life, just something to say that I was thinking of them and appreciated their friendship.
Basically, what I’m resolving to do is keep Christmas activities to a minimum. There are so many nice Christmasy things that we can do for ourselves, our family, for others, but we can’t do it all and still enjoy the season. For us this year, because of money constraints, it made us have to be really choosy about what we spent money on. But it was good, because it helped me figure out what was most important to me to spend time, energy and money on, and I wasn’t spending lots of time, energy, and money on things that were nice to do, but just consumed energy and created too much stress. This way, I just enjoyed my little family and the simple joys of the season.