Friday, December 10, 2010

Skipping Christmas

In October I started to plan our Christmas trip home and broke out in hives.

This would be our first Christmas since we've moved. Our first Christmas on the road, sleeping in random beds, and living out of a suitcase.

Here recently, in the guilt-ridden holiday spirit I've been really worried about trying to please everyone. As most people know holidays split between two families can sometimes be taxing. I've been struggling with the idea of spending quality time with family and friends, while making sure we don't spend the entire time looking at our watch and planning for the next visit.

And then there is the gift issue. We are trying to simplify our lives and make financially sound decisions for our future. And over the past six months money hasn't really been growing on trees for us. With the move and trying to sell our house, we've been paying double bills for a while. Thankfully we aren't dodging bill collectors yet, but I was not prepared to take on $1,000 worth of debt just for Christmas.

After many long discussions over the months (mostly while walking our puppy) my better half and I decided that this year we are skipping Christmas.

Before you throw out the "Bah Humbugs" and Grinch lingo, just hear me out. We have decided to skip the 21st century version of Christmas. No gifts, no shopping, and no credit card bills.

The decision was confirmed for me while reading "'I want that', How we all became shoppers" by Thomas Hines (thanks AE!). The book is an in-depth look into shopping in our society, from early civilizations to the 21st century. There is even a chapter on Christmas, here is an excerpt:

"Male Christmas shoppers experience stress levels similar to those found in jet fighter pilots and police officers entering dangerous situations."

At first that quote made me laugh out loud. And then after really thinking about adrenaline pumping, scary situations, I just felt sad. Our lives are stressful enough, why does this beautiful season have to just add to the pile?

I know, I probably sound like I've been hitting the eggnog a little early. But I urge you to just try it, once. I can't explain how light I feel. I've really been able to just enjoy the season with out the burden of choosing the perfect gift. It's been nice to just focus on our definition of Christmas: A celebration of the birth of Christ and kinship.

I'll give you a post-holiday update and let you know how it goes.

Fingers-crossed our families don't bar the doors,


Uncle Tractor said...

I lived in Sweden many years ago. Though they did exchange gifts and even embraced the 'Santa' tradition, I was always amazed that they seemed to be better balanced about the holiday. Instead of one big day focused on gifts, they had a number of holy days and seasonal celebrations. More focus seemed to be on food, friends and family. It seemed simpler and more sane. I hope you and your husband enjoy the holiday. Keep focusing on the important things.

Simplifying in the South said...

Thanks Uncle Tractor. As much as society is pulling I'm trying to keep my head down and focus on what's really important. I'm really hopeful about this holiday. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a happy new year!

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