simplify this holiday season.

Whether during the holidays or not, take a moment to slow down and simplify. Think of the methods you are using and ask why. If it’s perfect the way it is, let it be. If not, let it go.

In all things, we naturally progress towards being stronger. Better. More extravagant. At least, that’s the idea. Part of this drive to continue building comes from within, and some comes from the pressures around us; media, friends, co-workers. With this mentality, it’s very hard to appreciate the now. Of course, we say, “enjoy today”. Actually doing it isn’t as easy as it’s whipped up to be.aaron-wilson-17274

While the holiday season is warm and wonderful and I get overly excited about decorating the moment Thanksgiving is over, it can add a ton of stress. The long family list rolls out and the gift planning begins. Of course, each year I get to imagine what each person may like. After all, a lot can happen between the ages of twelve and thirteen. While simultaneously trying to juggle crowds, the pressure of finding the perfect gifts, and managing a budget (or not and kicking myself later), there is also figuring out the perfect schedule to visit all of the family. Oh, let’s not forget all that goes into hosting if that is part of the plan. So. How to let go of some of this unneeded fluff? That really is up to you.

When I get to feeling overwhelmed, I always bring it down to the basics by stripping off all of the excess. Piece by piece, I take apart the conglomeration that I’ve constructed and start weeding out all unnecessary things. What I mean is this. I could spend hours online trying to find the perfect gift for the thirteen year old, but there is a decent chance what I get will still not suffice. Yes, it’s the thought that counts and a physical tangible gift is much more fun than a gift card or box of chocolates, but is it worth the trouble? If the reason is no, why put yourself through the agony? Just buy the gift card or the chocolate or both, and be done with it. This year I practiced just this. I went to Target, bought twenty gift cards for the kids in the family, plan on making something delicious and homemade, but simple for the adults, and minimally decorated my home. Of course, I will buy gifts for my own kids but they are easy because I know exactly what they would want. Done.

The hard part about this concept is the idea that I am not giving gifts full-heartedly. I worry that the thought doesn’t count so much when you don’t put so much thought into it. In reality, that’s just me being crazy. It’s okay, and the gift cards will do just fine. Simplifying doesn’t equal a cop-out. In fact, it’s a good example to set for kids. Gifts are great, but it’s more about being happy, healthy, and together.

In having a conversation with a woman from Germany, we got to talking about some of the cultural differences between Germany and the United States. She mentioned that when she came here, everything appeared to revolve around status. Who has the biggest house and who has the biggest car is much more important that the quality of personal relationships. She said that “back home”, a small home is fine. A car that drives will do. A simple wardrobe and hairdo is okay. There is no need for fifteen different facial cleansing methods each night to ensure we look twenty when we are sixty. This conversation was so valuable. Imagine living in a world where everyone felt this way. Think of the quality of life where thoughts are directed at family strength and personal growth. I realized that my values could use some tweaking.

Whether during the holidays or not, take a moment to slow down and simplify. Think of the methods you are using and ask why. If it’s perfect the way it is, let it be. If not, let it go.


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