Last year I felt a very strong pull to move away from the consumeristic nature of Christmas. The process of packing up all of our stuff in preparation for our move to Ohio felt way more stressful than it should have, considering we had the help of a moving company. I was so overwhelmed with how much stuff we accumulated that we didn't use or need. Knowing all too well the power that stuff can have over a person, I had no desire to receive gifts that were going to sit on a shelf or get shoved in the back of a closet.
This year is no different.
Although I do actually enjoy giving gifts to others and I appreciate when others do the same for me, I have to ask why holidays like Christmas, Valentine's Day, and Birthdays are the only days of the year we take the opportunity to give to others? Why do we opt for material items that people don't really need or want (in most cases) instead of more meaningful or useful gifts?
Stockpiling gifts upon gifts underneath a Christmas tree is not what Christmas is supposed to be about. We are so caught up in living a life of excess, we have lost sight of the true meaning of Christmas.
For me, Christmas is a time to rest from the daily grind, disconnect from the world, and spend quality time with family and friends. It’s about tradition, appreciating all of our blessings, spreading love, and celebrating the One who came down to Earth to bring us life. Growing up it was definitely about the gifts, but as an adult, it no longer is.
My husband and I just sent out our Christmas cards to family members over the past weekend. Although he and I will exchange a couple small gifts a few days before Christmas, we have asked our family to refrain from purchasing any material items for us. We’re doing Christmas a little different this year.
Since we have more than we could possibly need and the majority of what we want, we asked our family to support us in another way. We invited them to partner with us as we prepare for our first mission trip to Mumbai, India next fall where we will serve our church partners and survivors of human trafficking.
Instead of material gifts we asked for prayer and/or financial support to help us reach our fundraising goal of $7000 to cover the cost of our trip.
Our specific prayer requests are for smooth travel, health, the safety of our team, and that God will use this trip to do immeasurably more than we could ask or predict. We are also collecting handwritten, personal prayers for the women and girls in India who we are traveling to serve, which we plan to deliver when we arrive in India.
I invite you to partner with us as well. Your prayer support is needed. Whether I personally know you or not, I would greatly appreciate your prayers leading up to and during our trip next year. If you would like to submit a handwritten prayer for us to deliver, please don't hesitate to reach out to me via email at email@example.com.
Although I don't live a truly minimalistic lifestyle all year round, I have to say, minimalists have got it right when it comes to the holidays. Christmas feels a lot less stressful this year and I'm excited to focus on the more meaningful aspects of the holiday.
If you’re like us and looking to change things up for Christmas, here’s a few ideas:
Take a trip
Forgo purchasing gifts and plan a small or big trip somewhere fun.
See a movie
My husband’s family has a long standing tradition of going to see a movie together on Christmas evening.
Donate your belongings, a gift, or Christmas dinner
Consider going through your closet and removing the articles of clothing you haven’t worn in the past calendar year. Ask your children to select a few toys that they have outgrown or don’t play with anymore. Drop them off at a local Goodwill, Salvation Army, or homeless shelter.
You can also participate in a toy or coat drive, or drop by the grocery store and put together a box of food so that a family in need will be able to have a nice dinner with their family for Christmas.
Trade the time spent Christmas shopping for rest
Most of us can’t say we’re fully rested and get sufficient sleep on a regular basis. Why not sleep in a few extra hours each morning during your time off? Or if you’re adamant about getting up before the sun rises, choose to read a book, journal, exercise, take a walk, or make a nice breakfast for the family.
Gift an experience
If you’re dead set on purchasing gifts, rather than buying material items, you could gift an experience instead - concert tickets, a ski trip, a gift card for a massage, a nice meal, or just your time and undivided attention.
Do you have any other suggestions for a more minimalist Christmas? Share them with me, I’d love to hear from you!