I love when the power goes out, we snuggle in blankets by the fire, do puzzles, talk more, read by candlelight, and nap.
But I also love power. The olden days are lovely to romanticize. But given the choice I’m sure many of the pioneers of yesteryear would choose some modern conveniences over say, washing their laundry in the river. Just check out Christmas Victorian Farm Christmas on Youtube and see all the preparation just to survive let alone celebrate! And Claire stuck in 1748 in Outlander who , when asked what she misses most about 1970, replies “Asprin”.
We say we want to have a simpler Christmas this year but in this modern world, is it possible to have ?
I think so. It takes intention though. It takes not feeling guilty when we take advantage of modern conveniences to free up time to give to another area we want to cultivate. It takes saying no when the whole world may be saying “can you….”
Example: I love giving homemade gifts for Christmas. But I may need to use the computer to do part of the gift. Or the sewing machine. Or the mix master. But I believe the means justifies the end. I’m still putting my time and effort, which is valuable, into a special gift I thought you would love. Do you care if I hand sewed it ? Mixed it by hand? Or hand wrote it? What if I just bought homemade gifts from my friends to help support them and made you a gift basket of all the homemade gifts ? Is that still a simple Christmas ?
The answer is Yes, I believe so. A simple modern Christmas to me means : taking the time we use being distracted by the things in this world that trap us ( which can be different for different families/people) and using the time instead to celebrate and give with intention. Its saying no to EXPECTATIONS we set for ourselves.
It’s not really about the homemade vs Amazon purchase. (But just to be clear, I will always prefer anything homemade over anything store bought !)
A simple modern Christmas is any one of these things or all of them :
- Guiding our kids with their gifts for others and taking the time to help them make or craft them. They will remember this;
- Baking for neighbors and letting the kids all help and deliver;
- Planning to put part of Christmas dinner in the slow cooker, cook and freeze as many side dishes as you can ahead so you can enjoy your day;
- Texting, or messaging local crafters to customize orders;
- Waiting 24 hours before making an online purchase because chances are it’s an impulse or a panic buy (ask me how I know 🤷♀️)
- Sending etransfer payment to local crafters we know and trust when we place the order. It’s one more thing bought and paid for. ;
- Using google images to get inspiration to craft homemade items;
- Using PayPal to donate to Feed Nova Scotia ( this also benefits food banks in our community );
- Donating homegrown turkey or chicken or extra produce to our food bank or posting excess on fb so someone else can use it ;
- not incurring debt for Christmas presents( we went in debt for Christmas for years before we figured this one out so speaking from the experience of hosting many a yard sale selling toys at half price or less what you paid for them while still paying off the cc bill . THIS IS NOT A GOOD FEELING and not good for family;
- shopping the fb Charity auctions to find that special -like -new gift at a fraction of the cost (and don’t feel one bit of guilt about this, in fact you can feel good about this !!);
- Shopping thrift stores for loved ones’ favorite old things. One of my favorite gifts I received is a child’s wooden antique sheep toy on wheels (as a nod to my Shepardess tendencies) ;
- paring back our schedules to the bare minimum for the month of December. (Former hockey and figure skating mom PSA : you signed on for a team and that means you show up dec 24. Right? Wrong. Sports pretend to be necessary. I’m not saying don’t show up for all games in December but rather look at maybe one or two to miss that could cut you a break. My husband and I disagree on this point. Don’t let other people make you feel the least bit guilty for choosing between a simple joy with your family when you all need a break or expectations. This is the older me speaking to the younger me here.)
- I don’t know who needs to hear this but : print off your family pictures by ordering online. These make lovely gifts in antique frames. Done.
- Being intentional with 4 gifts for our kids: One to wear, one to read, one they want (from Santa) , and one they need. This works for any budget.
- If there is someone who you dislike buying for because you sense they are never happy with your presents, you can A- stop buying for them and have an honest conversation about it , or B- have the kids make them something and let it go. It’s on them ,not you.
- If you have a large family and everyone still wants to exchange gifts, figure out something. Again you can have an honest conversation about it but in my experience there is always one person who will still dig in and hold onto wanting to exchange gifts with every one because it gives them joy. And that’s okay . But it’s important to honor where you are at. A Family picture in an antique frame, a tin (thrift stores have oodles cheap. The older the better for me !) of homemade fudge, a poem written by one of your children, homemade bits and bites in mason jars , anything you can make in bulk simple and inexpensive but still honoring the tradition.
- Let go of the notion everyone is able to afford a better Christmas than you, or is having a better Christmas, or has more supportive family ….yada yada yada. This is a bigger problem today more than ever thanks to Social Media. Take pride in whatever your celebration looks like. It is YOURS and that is enough. If our kids see us modeling this, that’s the real gift we are giving them.
A simple, modern Christmas doesn’t mean we give a penny, a pencil and an orange in a sock. Because that’s redundant to us today, right?
It means we celebrate with intention and give no more than we can afford. Which is exactly the means to the ends of a simple Christmas- olden days OR modern days.
We have different choices today then our ancestors did. But when you pare back all the trappings, it’s always about the same core values to creating a simple Christmas.
The trick is to pare those trappings back. We are still working on it and would love for you to join us as we stumble along. Community gets you through.