Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Silence of Christmas

I’m sure most of you didn’t even notice, but I fell off the blog wagon for a few weeks!  I think my brain needed a break.  Today as I sit and look out at the white-frosted landscape, I’m back in the blog groove again.
What is it about snow that simplifies things?  Everything is the same color, shapes and sizes are rounded and softened, and sounds are muffled.  It makes me want to snuggle up in a blanket and just think.  I needed the snow.  I’ve been going in so many different directions and worrying and stressing about so many things.  I needed some simplicity, clarity and snow.
This time of year usually brings anything but simplicity.  Black Friday, Cyber Monday, school Christmas concerts, parties, service, decorations and last minute shopping.   It’s almost like you have to put you head down and charge forward just to get through December.  Why do we do it this way??  Is that what this holiday is really about?
In years past I’ve talked about simplifying Christmas, and here I am again, wanting to simplify even more.  So I have been on the lookout for ideas and I want to share some with you:

10 Ways to Simplify Christmas

1.  Allow yourself to gain 3 pounds during the holidays.
What I mean is don’t obsess about your weight.  Nothing puts a damper on holidays more than worrying about every bite you take.  Be wise about your choices, but give yourself a break.
2.  Don’t spend what you don’t have.
There is no better way to stress yourself out than to spend too much.  So simplify your gift giving.  We do 4 gifts: Something they WANT, something they NEED, something to SHARE and something to READ.  I find things at thrift stores and online classified for at least 1-2 of these per kid each year.  Christmas is more about why you want to give a gift rather than money you spend.
3.  It’s OK to say no occasionally.
I’m preaching to the choir here.  I am a chronic Yes-sayer.  So this year I’m going to practice. My family deserves my time and focus.
4.  Your 2nd cousin will forgive you if you don’t get him a gift this year.
Most people probably feel the same way as you do about gift giving.  Send a nice card and thoughtful memory or some other meaningful token rather than spending money.  They just might feel as much relief as you do that they don’t have to give you a gift in return.
5.  Remember that giving out of obligation kills the spirit of giving.
You know the feeling – you are standing in the store wondering what in the world your mother in law needs this year.  The answer is – NOTHING!  Most of us don’t need a thing.  So look online for thoughtful gifts that cost little.  Attach a photo and a story about one of your favorite memories of her.  Have the kids write their favorite thing about grandma.  Decorate it silly or beautiful, she will love it either way.  It will mean more than the obligatory gift she will never use.
6.  Ditching a tradition because it’s become too laborious or frustrating does not take away the memories that are attached.
Just because you’ve always gone to see the lights doesn’t mean you always have to.  If it’s causing you stress and taking your eye off the real reason for the holiday, don’t do it!
7.   Focus on your faith and family.
Christmas is meant to celebrate Jesus Christ and His birth.  As a Christian, one of the best ways for me to simplify Christmas is to focus on my faith.  Focusing on faith and family makes everything else seem less important.  Go to to see a great 25 days focus on Faith and Serving.
8.  It’s OK if your Christmas card is late this year…again.
My favorite ones are the ones that come in January after all the others!  I even got one in March this year.  Awesome!  My aunt just sent hers out on Facebook.  Even easier.
9.  Actively look for those who may be struggling financially and help out.
Instead of buying your son his 25th video game, sponsor another child who has little.  Go to to see how to sign up for sub for santa this year.  No extra money?  That’s okay – give of your time.  Look up the Salt Lake Mission for volunteer opportunities that cost nothing.
10.  If you’re able, end every day by turning on the Christmas tree lights, turning off all the other lights, and relaxing with a cup of hot chocolate or tea.
Give yourself at least 10-15 minutes to relax and enjoy the beauty of the holiday season.  Christmas music optional.  Sometimes the silence sounds better – especially when it’s clothed in snow.
Now go and ENJOY December this year.  It will be gone whether you stress about it or love every minute.  It’s your choice.

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen

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