Celebrate Life Instead of Stuff
Magic happens when you choose presence over presents!
We want to celebrate this Christmas by sharing our family stories…
The older I get (I am now 55) the more I am drawn back to my childhood Christmas. Just imagine 10 kids – the noise, the chaos, the hugs, and yes – the presents! But with ten children, there wasn’t much money, time or energy. So we got creative about sharing experiences rather than stuff.
My parents led the way. My mom kept her eyes and heart open all year long for precious little things to give her children. I was always amazed at the treasures she found. It was her “knowing” of each of us that felt magical. My dad often made gifts for us – like the super cool hobby horse that my son played with and I just passed on to my sweet nephew. My parents showed us how to celebrate simply and deeply. It was all we knew and it felt rich! Here are some fun memories that still live in me today –
- My favorite memory was coloring together. We could do it for hours. My daughter Jessica and I just spent an evening coloring by candle light!
- Then there was singing around the piano and caroling for friends. Music was the glue that kept us connected.
- I will never forget sledding for hours until we were frozen and then warming up with yummy hot chocolate.
- Our favorite part of gifts was getting creative with the wrapping. We would spend hours joyfully with paper, ribbons, bows and other things.
- We turned big refrigerator boxes (that my dad dragged home) to little elf homes that we could sleep in to catch Santa Claus. We always stayed up as late as we could but never caught him.
So this year I feel like I have gone full circle. I care most about getting precious time with my family. This is my first Christmas without my kids in my home. And we lost my daughter’s two kitties last week that she had grown up with. So my heart is heavy and also sweetly full. I am now with my wonderful man, our dog and kitty. My son David, daughter Jessica, daughter-in-law Isabel and family will come visit us on Christmas Day to play games, sing songs, color, and just be together.
We are not doing stuff. We are taking in the very sweetest of all gifts – each other.
In Clutter Clear Out Celebration I shared that my little family has spent the last 2+ years clearing our possessions and ultimately becoming minimalists. This way of living with less stuff has given us more time, energy and money to experience day-to-day life in ways we had not even imagined possible.
This has also shifted the way we approach Christmas. Last year we decided that instead of GETTING we wanted to focus on DOING. We would continue to set aside our monthly “Christmas Savings”, but if something came up that we wanted to experience, like meeting friends at Disneyland or in San Diego; doing extra fun things when loved ones visit; or going out on an extra family date night, we would spend some of our Christmas Savings to do them. Throughout 2015 that is exactly what we have done and it has been awesome!
As we neared this holiday season we talked about taking the “Doing” to a deeper level, “Serving”. This lead my son to serving Thanksgiving Dinner to people in need with the Youth Group he belongs to. During the evening he had a personal and powerful interaction with a woman in which he felt a deep sympathy for her scenario and a strong gratitude for his own. He came home and told me that he was planning on donating half of all of the money he received for his December birthday and Christmas. My heart burst with pride for his kindness and selflessness.
In addition we decided that we would spend half (give or take) of our remaining Christmas Savings on a family struggling to make ends meet. As we purchased things they NEED, like towels, sheets, a first aid kit, we all felt most grateful for all that we have and for all that we can do for others.
Although it is still a daily practice, we are deeply in love with simple living and are ecstatic to see what we get to DO and how we get to SERVE in 2016.