Friday, November 27, 2009

Keeping Christmas Preparation in Perspective

My family has simplified Christmas over the years, and the season requires some planning to keep it simple.

Please keep in mind that I am no saint - I have wrestled with my own holiday demons, including envy and avarice, and while they may be in abeyance at this moment, I know that doesn't mean I can sit back and assume they will not creep back into my life.

Choosing simplicity means making choices against clutter and chaos and materialism every day - some days it seems like I am making these choices every moment.

Choosing simplicity is a lifestyle that brings me a great deal of peace, as I allow myself to live differently, to become more true to myself and less caught up in what Madison Avenue is selling this week - but trying doesn't always mean I am successful. That is one of the reasons I write - to remind myself about my goals and to hold myself accountable...

My focus is on a spiritual Christmas. After all, Christmas is a religious High Holy Day, not a secular celebration.

Christmas is the birth of Hope, the Light shining in the darkness. 

Christmas is not about maxing out credit cards, competitive gifting, or whining children begging for everything they see in the commercials.

Altho Santa can have an appropriate place in the Christmas celebration (and does in our home), he should not be allowed as an excuse for shopaholic behavior and he does not replace Jesus as the focal point of Christmas.

One of my top tips for sanity at the holidays is turning off all television. 

We no longer have television at all in our home, so the sheer volume of toy/junk ads aimed at our nation's children always surprises me when I am visiting others. Turning off the telly helps to deflect this media blitz, and to stop the annoying "gimmes" that sp many children develop.

Our Advent wreath and our creche come out the first Sunday of Advent, so that the spiritual preparation for the season stays foremost in our minds. Lighting the candles, reflecting upon the theme of the week, and saying a short prayer helps to focus anticipation. Keeping the "Reason for the Season" in its proper role helps to keep rampant materialism and consumerism at bay.

I usually buy a Christmas tree the Second or Third Sunday of Advent, and decorate it with lights, ribbons, and simple ornaments. We play favorite carols at the piano or on iTunes, and  enjoy the pretty display. Some years, when we have small tots expected, I place pieces from my Santa Village under the tree - which creates an effect of a snowy mountain landscape.

How do you keep Christmas in perspective?