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Beacon Senior News

Have yourself a simple little Christmas

Nov 22, 2021 03:38PM ● By G. L. Yenne
Short christmas tree decorated with lights and red and gold balls is surrounded by five beautifully wrapped gift boxes of various colors, all tied with ribbon. These are all in front of a Christmas red background

How to scale back and move forward with a new plan

Have you ever tried to create an unforgettable Christmas for your family? Perhaps all you got was a huge headache and an even bigger credit card balance. The national delay in our supply chain this year is the perfect excuse to simplify Christmas by giving and receiving gifts that don’t come with a price tag.

What do you remember about your childhood Christmases? Maybe it was the fresh scent of pine as you decorated your tree, the sweet and snappy taste of freshly baked gingerbread or the family togetherness before church services.

What do you dislike about Christmas now? Perhaps it’s the stressful family gatherings, the constant repetition of Christmas music everywhere you go or the endless stream of holiday catalogs clogging your mailbox. Many don’t find Christmas merry, and depression often worsens during the holidays. 

Marie Kondo, the guru of organization, says, “If it does not give you pleasure, eliminate.” Likewise, if we focus on a few things that are meaningful and eliminate the rest, we will enjoy a more peaceful season. This might include gathering with those we love, admiring the Christmas lights or attending special services.  


PRACTICAL TIPS TO SIMPLIFY

As far as gifts are concerned, young children who believe in Santa love to open a brightly wrapped package. Their joy is infectious! For everyone else, how about writing a loving letter on beautiful paper that will always be treasured? Coupons for a massage, tickets to the museum or zoo, or a gift card for gas are a sure-fire hit. Coupons for babysitting mean the gift of time to harried younger couples. A single nice gift for the entire family, such as a puzzle or board game, is a thoughtful gesture. One teenager makes origami birds and boxes for presents. Consumable items such as wine, honey, chocolate, cheese, nuts and soaps are always welcomed.

Some grandparents love giving lots of gifts to their grandchildren (hello, grandmothers!), often against the parents’ wishes. Parents might choose to cut back on their own gift-giving to balance the extreme generosity of grandparents.

While Facebook might mean fewer Christmas cards, many still enjoy receiving them. Cull your list and mail only to those near and dear. Place cards you receive in one basket and stock another with new cards, stamps and pens. If you receive an unexpected card, you’ll be prepared! Since we live in a texting culture, how about a creative greeting limited to 5-8 short lines?

Example: COVID Christmas 2021

"Finally retired! First grandbaby arrived in May. Took two road trips to Oregon and Montana. Started volunteering at local soup kitchen. Best wishes for 2022!"

Decorations are lovely but labor-intensive. Deck the halls in a simple way, with one main focal point per area—a crèche, a brilliant red poinsettia or an evergreen wreath for the front door. Arrange all your sparkly ornaments in a glass bowl as a centerpiece for the dining room. Decorate a tree outside with seeds, berries and nuts for the birds. Keep your artificial Christmas tree up year-round and decorate with seasonal ornaments to celebrate other holidays.

With food, loosen your grip on traditions like baking Grandma’s pecan pie. The younger generation may introduce new recipes. If no one has the energy or time for homemade fare, just buy baked goods and “present” on your own china! 

Talk to your loved ones about differing holiday expectations. Do you feel stressed by family members staying in your home? Maybe it’s time they check out an Airbnb. You could seek respite at a cabin in the mountains, a monastery, a resort or a farm to gain peace and spiritual renewal.

Entertainment needn’t be costly. White elephant gift exchanges are always fun. Read classic Christmas stories aloud, such as “The Little Match Girl” by Hans Christian Anderson, “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, “The Elves and the Shoemaker” by the Brothers Grimm or “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry. Perennial TV favorites include “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “Amahl and the Night Visitors” and “Miracle on 34th Street.”


LESS STRESS IS POSSIBLE

Restore meaning to the season by studying other cultures that focus on religious themes and simple decorations. No other culture in the world starts the Christmas season in September, as we do here!

It’s an irony that we celebrate with overconsumption when the first Christmas took place in a humble stable. How about following your own star this season like the wise men did and stepping out of your comfort zone to find someone to help? Serve at a soup kitchen, carol at a nursing home, support an immigrant family or visit shut-ins or prisoners. 

Following even some of these suggestions will slow down the pace of your preparations and alleviate that post-Christmas hollow feeling. May serenity and joy be yours this year as you experience a simply beautiful Christmas.


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