Simplicity becomes harder to grasp during the Christmas season. We are bombarded with so much advertising beginning before Black Friday. Shopping with the deadline for the best price brings stress to “buy more, more, more, right now.” December activities cram the calendar and we become hyper busy and worn out.
It’s hard to go against the cultural trends and slow down to enjoy the season. The classic Christmas movies create nostalgia for a simpler time. In the faster pace we miss the satisfaction of enjoying simple things, like driving through neighborhoods just to see Christmas lights, having a cup of coffee with a friend, or stopping to hear a child sing.
Ways to regain simplicity in the craziness of December:
- Set limits on the number of Christmas gifts you give. If you love gift giving, it is easy to overdo it, so determine in advance how many gifts you’ll give to those on your list. Some families give three gifts to each of their children, using the three gifts of the Magi as the example. I once overheard a conversation of a mom who admitted she got so carried away in buying gifts for her child, that she thought she should return some of them. I don’t know if she did, but if she had set a limit and stuck to it, she could have avoided the extra work of the returns.
- Decide which activities are important to you and your family and commit to those. Time is valuable. It is easy to become overcommitted with activities that only add busyness to our lives. Choose the most important family activities, put it on the calendar, and make a special memory. Oh, and everything can’t be a special memory.
- Simplify decorations. Decorating can be fun, but it also takes time and can add stress if you are determined to have every candle and string of lights in place by December 2. Do what is manageable for you. Involve your kids. Use what you have without having to purchase more. It is more pleasurable to have a home that is lived in than a living room that is a display from a magazine.
As I studied the word simplicity, I learned that it is from a Hebrew word meaning sincerity of heart, integrity, a singleness of mind.
With this in mind, ask yourself this: How can my Christmas activites reflect sincerity of heart and desire to celebrate the birth of the Savior?
Contentment is also a part of simplicity. Contentment learns to say “I have all that I need in Christ.” When this spills into our December life, we lose a little craziness and gain a little peace.
In his article Living Simply–and Richly, James Watkins writes,
“That is the radical simplicity that the apostle Paul possessed. “For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:11-13).”
Notice that many Christians’ favorite promise verse, Philippians 4:13, actually applies to living a simple, contented life. We can do that!”
The song “Simple Gifts,” written in 1848 by Shaker Joseph Brackett expresses the beauty of simplicity. Although it is usually sung during the Thanksgiving season, I think its message is appropriate any time of the year. It is performed in the following video:
“Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. Psalm 86:11
- Simplicity can be gained by making the conscious choice to have singleness of mind to celebrate the birth of our Savior and not get distracted by the glitz of the season.
- May your heart rest in the simplicity and love of the manger.
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- Next in the blog series Words for Christmas: peace.
- First post in the Words for Christmas series : Prepare for Christmas