Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas is not a holiday for minimalists

On a typical Christmas Day I spend the hours wandering around the house searching out clear plastic bins in which to store all the new crap.  Newly opened gifts don't sit under the tree for very long.  By mid-day, preferably, they are put into their new homes.

Christmas is, without a doubt, the bane of minimalists.

This year I have been trying to keep from spending all of Christmas Day in a fit of anxiety.  I have, therefore, spent the entire month in a perplexing state of both buying new stuff (because I have to) and unloading lots of old stuff (because I want to).

If I had my preferences, every adult in both mine and D's families would forego gift-giving.  We would get together to eat, watch the kids open gifts and chat.  And every adult would be limited to giving each child  But that isn't going to happen, so I go buy stuff for gift exchanges and try to accept that my children will be lost in a pile of stuff from grandparents, aunts, uncles and Santa.

At the same time that I've been shopping, I have been throwing out stuff that is either outright junk or stuff I don't truly love.  Earlier in the month our neighborhood had a bulk pick-up so I tossed baby bed parts that I had thought, "Maybe some day I'll become a carpenter and up-cycle something completely cool."  

After 17 years, we shipped our first Christmas tree to Goodwill.  We bought it for our first married Christmas when we had zero furniture and 3 fewer children.  It was huge, and over time simply didn't fit into the space.  A number of years I didn't even put limbs on the back and held the bottom down with hand-weights to keep it from being quite so huge.  I felt like 17 years was a good run for a tree, so didn't mind spending $100 for a smaller tree.  I also donated tons of Christmas items that had been given to me over the years; things I didn't love.

I've gone through toys and clothes and pulled aside things the kids no longer touch or wear and have them in the basement, ready to be sorted and priced for the spring consignment sales.  This week before the kids are out of school I'll be going through their bedrooms and desks, pulling aside precious items of half-written on paper, rubber bands and other things that qualify as trash in my book.

It is terribly difficult for me to reconcile within myself what Christmas should mean with what Christmas actually is.  My long-standing issues with Christmas date back to my childhood, so I think it is mostly a personality thing, although the materialism of the holiday worsens every year.

I think I've decided that my favorite holiday is the 4th of July.  No gifts.  No madness of grocery shopping for pumpkin-oriented items and stuffing.  No overabundance of candy and rabbits and plastic eggs.

Simply getting together, eating, playing outside.  The only downside is the humidity. 

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