For years I've been flirting with simplicity. It appeals to me the way a green salad with viniagrette dressing appeals to me after a week of fast food and sugar cookies. The restraint itself is a relief.
The one thing I've never been able to pull off, though, is anything close to a simple Christmas. I've written blog posts and essays that vigorously espoused doing less and buying less and refusing to guilty about it, and yet I have always failed. At the last minute, year after year, I have swept through Fred Meyer in a panic, loading up my cart with $10-and-under useless gifts, a hapless victim of social pressure.
This year is different, and I can't even take all the credit. This year no one seems to be playing. In previous years, I started off strong until the Christmas cards starting sailing in and the adorable gifts from my outer circle of friends started piling up. The drive to reciprocate overcame all sense. This year, however, I have received one Christmas card and two gifts from outside of my family. It's wonderful. I think I'm going to make a proclamation every year: send nothing! Save yourself!
Of course, we totally overdid it with the kids; we haven't managed to rein that one in yet. But the fact remains that it is December 23rd and my things-to-do list is: make a chocolate cream pie for Christmas dinner. That's it. No wrapping, no sending, no cleaning, no panicking. I'm working on a bead necklace for fun.
This has been the Christmas season without cards, endless wrapping, over-spending or guilt. An unexpected consequence? Actual peace. Actual joy.
And I wish the same to you and yours.