Thursday, November 22, 2007

This Christmas, resist one thing

So many people are already talking about how overwhelmed they are with Christmas shopping: how much they have to do, how much money they expect to spend. I overheard one woman tell another that she had only about $1000 to spend on her kids this year. She has 3 kids, one of whom is a toddler. Her kids already have every toy I could imagine. Others talk about getting out for black Friday shopping early to get some deals on the popular toys this year. They are worried that they will miss out on some toys their kids are dying to have. They don't know how they will survive the holidays.

Then there are the women who are anxious about what they might expect from their husbands or boyfriends. They want jewels but can't come right out and say so, so they drop hints. Ladies, men are basically clueless about gifts and hints. I am not male-bashing - my husband would tell you that. So many women will wake up Christmas morning full of anticipation and will be upset that their man didn't catch the hints. "I shouldn't have to tell him what I want, he should just know!" Please.

It's Thanksgiving in America but so many people don't seem very thankful, just worried about making this a perfect Christmas for themselves and their families.

I wish this Christmas season everyone would resist one thing they think they should do or buy. One thing to say no to: One toy. (How many will your child really appreciate?) One scented candle for an obligatory office or hostess gift. One trip to the mall. One party invitation. One new pair of boots for a Christmas party. One expectation of a gift from someone else. One oblique hint for a gift. One new decorative item for the tree or the dinner table.

I'm not a proponent of a plain, oversimplified Christmas. I like to buy gifts, decorate the house, wrap with beautiful paper, etc. But every year the stakes seem to get higher and the obligations mount up. Then we find ourselves with no time to really enjoy our families. After the gifts are open, our kids are discontent because even though they received so many things, there weren't enough. Or the thing they couldn't live without wasn't there. Then there are the people who overspend and get depressed in January when the bills arrive.

But if this year you say no to just one thing, you will make it a little simpler, a little calmer. Then next year you can find something else to say no to. And so on, till you reach the point where you truly enjoy the Christmas season instead of just surviving it.

What one thing will you resist this year?

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