While watching a documentary on the Amish I began to wonder if I could ever live without all the trappings of modern society. Did I even want to? In general I love electricity and indoor plumbing and couldn’t ever see myself giving up jeans or the radio, but there are definitely some principles to be learned from a simple lifestyle. And what a better time to explore these ideas than the Christmas season. To often we become more preoccupied with the next big sale rather than focusing on what actually matters during the holidays. In a world where you can be maced on black Friday for taking a big ticket item before someone else, I think it is time to take a step back and evaluate our principles as a society and as individuals. I have listed below some key ideas in creating a “plain” Christmas. You may not be able to do all of them, but I would encourage you to look at your own lives and see what you can do without, chances are that you might find the reason for the season buried under everything else.
1. Goodbye 485 Channels of Nothing: If your house was burning down, the first thing you would grab would not be your TV (your husband may try, but in the end the kids and dog would win out). So why is it that the TV gets more attention than our families. Too many American families make television a center of their life, mine included. This year we made a pledge to go TV free all of Christmas week. We are going to try really hard to stick with this. if you don’t think you can make it the whole week, then at least try to make Christmas Eve and Christmas Day TV free zones.
2. Hello Family Time: Now that your TV is gone you may be wondering what to do with all that free time. Play a game. Games are wonderful ways to spend time with your family while teaching good manners and following directions. Children as young as 2 years old can learn to play games like Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders. They may not understand all the rules but they will enjoy getting your attention and learning something new. Another side to this sitting as a family at the dinner table every night, rather than grabbing fast food.
3. Do You Need It: I sometimes feel like I need to buy my toddler everything in sight but the truth is, he is just as excited about a $1 car as he would be a $100 game console. When making gift purchases this year really consider whether the item is needed. I can’t tell you how many toys i have purchased that have ended up broken and in the trash six months later. Choose good quality products, quantity should never be a factor when Christmas shopping. I recently heard some good advice on the radio. It was suggested to buy only four gifts for a loved one or your children. They were Something you Need, Something you Want, Something to Wear, and Something to Read. That is a knockout principle that we could all live by when needing to reign the holiday spending.
4. Give Like You won’t Receive: Don’t get trapped into a tit for tat relationship while gift giving. Don’t expect anything in return for what you give, also don’t spend more than you can afford simply because you know someone else is buying an expensive gift for you or another family member.
5. Winter Cleaning: Go through your home and clean out everything you don’t need. I recently did this and found that I had 3 boxes of clutter that I never used. Take good condition items to a shelter or the Salvation Army and pitch the rest. Try selling bigger items on craigslist or ebay and use the money towards a family outing.
There are so many more things you can do. Make gifts for family members, craft your own decor, and attempt cooking from scratch. The main idea is to get back to basics. Remove the white noise from your life and enjoy your family this holiday season.