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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Simplifying Christmas!

Well, at least next year I will be starting.  Actually, this year is much simpler and I'm almost done.  Still a few more gifts to pull together and wrap, but almost done.

But what I'm talking about really is simplifying for a few different reasons...

#1 is money.  Finances are tight this year, (aren't they always) and I get stressed out robbing Peter to pay Paul, etc.  Then my daughters, who are also struggling, are spending money they don't have to buy gifts that may or may not be treasured.  It reminds me of the "Gift of the Magi" story.  Spending money I don't have to buy a gift for someone who is spending money they don't have to buy me a gift.  Makes absolutely no sense.  Then there are the people I buy for that I feel obligated to buy for... the co-worker because she gives me something, the pre-teen nephews who have anything money can buy, but I get them something because I feel like I should.  It's usually something they don't really want or need.

#2 is time.  I spend hours looking for stocking stuffers that are the right size and price range and appropriate for the person.  There are 7 stockings I stuff, including mine.  This year each stocking had at least 8 presents (usually there are more, but I ran out of energy and $).  So multiply that times 7 and we get 56 things I must find.  Sometimes they are easy (everyone gets a Christmas scratch-it lottery ticket and some favorite candy) and sometimes more difficult.  I try to pick up small things all year long.  Then, to go back to item #1, if you figure a minimum of $2 per stocking stuffer (and that's low-I get some things at the dollar tree and yard sales, but others are things like a box of 22 shells or bait for fishing), then I've just spent well over $100 on just stocking stuffers.  Then, there's the other time spent looking for the "right" gift which may not end up being what they wanted anyway.  Wandering through stores, surfing the web, etc.  Then, oh golly, time to wrap. Wait, more $ there, because of costs of wrapping paper and tape.  I quit buying ribbons and bows and labels years ago and want to wrap mainly with brown paper bags, but that doesn't always work out. I do re-use Christmas bags and boxes.  Time-wise I'm always scrambling to cook and bake also.  This year I'm narrowing it down to the family favorites and the easy-to-make that produce a lot-caramel corn, etc.  But my mom is hung up on Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas dinner too.  She keeps saying that we need to have this, this, this... we all eat too much, feel sick and spend too much time (and MONEY) preparing it.  I'd love to go out to pizza one Christmas eve... seriously, not even do take-out, but go out.  That way, no clean-up at all, not even paper plates.  Yes, there's money involved, but 3 large pizzas will feed the 15 or so people, and we can split the cost.  And Christmas day?? Pre-cook a ham, some mashed potatoes, a green salad and call it good.  But my mom won't change and she's getting older, so I won't fight to change that one yet.

#3 is most important: It's not fun anymore.  I told my husband that after Lyndsey has graduated, I'm done with stockings.  Flat-out done!  So, I only have one more Christmas, right?  Well, he pitched a holy fit- "No, you can't", "We all like them", "Don't be like your mom" (I about killed him on that one-she quit for the same reasons I am), and "It's not Christmas without them." I pointed out that even though we have a 26 year old, a 22 year old, a 16 year old and him, I am the only one who gets the stocking stuffers, pays for the stocking stuffers, wraps the stocking stuffers... EVEN MY OWN! He didn't blink... just whined and said "but we like it"... I don't think he has a clue what the kids have gotten for Christmas every year.  He just has never asked and I've just done it.  I don't think it's fair to Lyndsey to just quit doing stockings until she's officially "out of high-school", but after that, things will change.  My kids have never expected a lot, it's my own problem with spending money to get "gifts" under the tree.  I love decorating, but I've simplified that over the last couple years and will continue to do so. 

I want to slow down, watch Christmas movies on the couch, drink hot cocoa up in the snow, read a Christmas book.  I want Christmas to be fun again, as a matter of fact, the whole holiday season, starting with Halloween (which is my favorite holiday)...  I think after Christmas, I'll send this post to my daughters and talk to them about how we can make it more about what we want out of the season.  Maybe next year will be more about Christmas and less about... well, you know!

On a side note, my middle daughter, who lives in Portland and is struggling with finances on a daily basis, has gotten busy and gotten donations and she and her boyfriend Taylor, are handing out bags containing hats, gloves, blankets, gift cards to McDonalds and Subway, etc. to homeless in Portland on Christmas day.  Taylor, who is 26, spent a lot of years as a homeless teen, so this is important to him.  He told me he learned a long time ago how to manage with only what will fit in a small backpack. I think he has a story to tell...  Anyway, I am soooo proud of them.  I sent up a few blankets and reusable shopping bags, as well as motel soaps, etc to them to include.  I can't do much, but any little bit helps...

Hope, joy and faith to all of you!


  1. Ah, Christmas. The irony of it being a season of peace and simplicity...and yet it's so NOT that. If it's not fun anymore, it needs to change. And I bet if you open the discussion up to your daughters, you'll get positive feedback and can start working towards making it fun again. :) Merry Christmas!

  2. Love what your daughter and boyfriend are doing! I'm glad I never started the stocking tradition here, and I agree with everything you said! I spend too much trying to reciprocate to others that I wish would just give me a couple of their homemade cookies instead of spending money on a gift! It's crazy when I have to spend more finding little "somethings" to reciprocate with than I would have spent on a member of the immediate family!