21 days till Christmas and many seem to be split between excitement and dread. Excitement because of what Christmas means and the spirit that comes with it but dread because of the ‘To-do’s”, “must-haves”, “must-gets” and “must-gives”. The Christmas shopping, the Christmas cooking, the Christmas parties and the overdone décor often overshadow the pure light and life of the Christmas spirit. Too often we let this happen, and sometimes we even encourage it, simply because “it’s what everyone does” or “its what makes ‘Christmas’ Christmas”.
But I can almost guarantee that more than 90% of what we think “makes Christmas” are nothing more than “tinsel-draped” distractions that detract from the meaning and value Christmas should bring. Rachel Jonat said it best, “We don’t have to continue holiday traditions that leave us broke, overwhelmed, and tired.”
Just recently a friend reintroduced me to the movement of minimalism. I had heard of it before but more in passing. All it seemed to be was a bone-bare, black and white interior design style that offered no appeal to me in the slightest. But it is so much more than that.
She mentioned the documentary by two guys who call themselves ‘The Minimalists’. The documentary is called ‘Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things’ and about 5 minutes in, I was hooked. Something just clicked. I had always understood the idea of decluttering but this was so much more. Minimalism, as they told it, was about living intentionally, with more meaning. It is being intentional with everything you bring into your life. This includes the way we spend our time, the people we spend our time with and the things we own.
As soon as the next day after watching the documentary, I watched it a second time and by the end of the day had cleared out and donated about 50% of my belongings. Things I now knew, did not bring value to my life but took up unnecessary space in my home, mind and life. It was as if an invisible load had been lifted from off my shoulders.
In an article titled “Choose holiday traditions that serve you” on Becoming Minimalist, ‘minimalism’ is defined as “the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it”
Merry Minimalism: How I tried to be more intentional this Christmas
What does this have to do with a more “Intentional Christmas”?
As the Christmas season started and it came time to decorate my home and perhaps look at what Christmas goodies they offered at the near Mr Price Home, I realized that my mind had been focused on all the wrong things. I was more worried about what Christmas looked like rather than what Christmas felt like. I had reams of online catalogue items saved to my favourites bar, lying in wait for the money I would earn. I was willing to give away the money I NEEDED to save, for things I WANTED to have. Things that would loose their sparkle at months end, only to be shoved out of sight for the rest of the year till Christmas came around again, bringing with it new catalogues and more things to buy.
I had not given a second thought to what I would actually give at Christmas but had already begun making hints at my husband for what I WANTED.
That is not Christmas and that is not living. I decided that this year was going to be the most intentional Christmas I have ever had. A Christmas with less stuff but more life.
This doesn’t mean I did away with my decorations all together, it means I only kept that which added real value to my life – I only kept what I really loved and I bought nothing.
I still put up my Christmas tree and a few lights around the house because when I look at them they make me happy, not because they’re the latest and greatest in fashion, or because I was compelled to buy them, but because they remind me of what Christmas feels like and the true meaning behind it all.
I’ve asked for one small and affordable (to our budget) gift that my husband and my mother will split between the two of them, something I know will add real and lasting value to my life. But I don’t want or need more than that.
I have also decided that to make my own giving more intentional, I will ask the friends and family closest to me what I can give them that will be most valuable to them. It would be ridiculously un-intentional of me to decide that I was going to wander through the mall looking and waiting for the perfect gift to jump out at me.
It is also important for me to ask if there is anything I can DO for them as a gift that would far outweigh the value of cheap trinkets.
- Service and the true Christmas spirit
As a Mormon and a Christian it is also important for more to remember the reason for the season, being Jesus Christ. To do this I have joined in the #LighttheWorld campaign with my husband. Through this initiative we try to #LighttheWorld in 25 ways over 25 days as Christ did. Each day starting December 1, the calendar quotes a piece of scripture that prompts us to perform one intentional act of service each day of the Christmas month. You can find out more at Mormon.org.
Live your truth
Christmas to me is the most wonderful time of the year and I don’t want to detract from the value and light it brings to my life by following traditions that make it a burden.
But perhaps traditions that I feel are most important are of less value to you. I feel that each home and family is different but that each should hold onto what is most important and let go of those things that drain.
I feel each of us should re-look the time, money and effort we put into Christmas prepping and rather re-evaluate what areas of our Christmas season these resources would be better spent. To let go of those that detract and keep only those that add Light.