Christmas is a time for friends to practice simplicity.
Years ago, our family decided to get off the Christmas gift-giving roller-coaster, and the season slowed down to a "simple Christmas." According to MSN Money Central, about 12 million Americans are still paying off last year's holiday bills. The reason is that we all like to give or get gifts; gifts show love or speak unspoken words. We are wired to give, but bad debt comes in.
So as a family of seven, this is how we slowed it down:
We quit giving to our extended family members and friends. Instead, we just gave small gifts to the children’s Godparents and a gift of fruit to our Mother and Father.
We give one small item to each of our five children and then a gift card. Michael also is the one who shops for the children since he handles the budget, and he purchases the gift cards, which they love.
We also fill the stockings with chocolates and a small gift such as a pocket knife, cards, a piece of jewelry, or a chapstick.
We read The Gift of the Magi every Christmas dinner, and last year the oldest child took to telling his own version, which had us all in stitches.
On Christmas morning, we say a prayer at the top of the stairs, light a candle, then descend the stairs from the oldest to the youngest child. The calendar year (example-2020) is written in bold black letters, and child number one holds it. Next Christmas, it will be the number two child in front and so forth, so each child gets to be the number one who holds the piece of paper with the calendar year and the lighted candle. (The only problem here, as you can visualize, is that the number one child catches the piece of paper on fire due to the lighted candle. But then I don't think that has ever happened, really.) Of course, we take a picture as the children are descending, and when we open gifts, we do it one person at a time–not all at once. It slows the day down, and I can be jotting down who needs to write what thank you note to whom.
I get coffee cups from thrift stores, fill them full of teas or a small candle for gifts to neighbors, and wrapping paper is usually newsprint or recycled gift bags.
Let me share with you what Hannah, age 23, stated, “What I like about a simple Christmas is having a small exchange of presents because it takes the pressure off an extravagant Christmas, particularly in tough economic times. I also like filling stockings with you, Mom or Dad, because it involves older family members. I like cooking with you (Mom) and making breakfast. And by continuing to conduct small family traditions, it reminds my brain of childhood memories which produces endorphins and calms me during Christmas day.”
And to add a younger thought, child number five, Deahna, age 13, stated that she enjoys the way we go down the stairs with a candle, how Mr. Butte, our neighbor, comes into the house and steals the Baby Jesus, and then brings Him back on Christmas day so He can be in the manger, and how we can all create family time when people are usually at home.
So there you have it. Before you give, GET information from those your love on what is truly meaningful FOR THEM. And don’t forget to get going on St. Cecilia’s Christmas activities such as The Giving Tree, the annual Matt Talbot Christmas Dinner, or the Super Supper on the last Wednesday of the month in Conger Hall for the needy on Bainbridge.
Remember, “Ask and it will be given to you: seek and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7
Martha Wild King, M. Ed., Author
The Frugal Catholic: Learn to live on less to give and save more.