The greatest test of our new simple lifestyle looms before us–the holiday season.
First it comes robed in autumn colors and smelling like roasted bird. It has mashed potatoes on the side and football on the television. We gather together and thank God for what He’s provided, celebrate our family and then take naps all throughout the house.
Then smell of turkey and gravy gives way to ham and cherry pie, sparkly lights illuminating the darkness, and remembering the birth of a Savior so many years ago. We give gifts because the wise men started this tradition with their presents of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
The New Year barrels in close behind, which also happens to be our anniversary. We celebrate new beginnings, a year well-lived, and sixteen years of marriage.
These are all noble ideas that bear celebrating. God instituted so many celebrations in the Old Testament, giving his people one reason after another to feast and party the whole year through. So bring on the turkey and the lights and the presents under the tree!
And yet, if we’re not careful, these celebrations can knock out our good intentions. It’s so easy for everything to go so wrong. A little over eating here, a little fighting around the table there, a few too many swipes of the credit card, and then a little too much booze to cap things off. Before we know it we’re stuffed to the gills, badly in debt, and not speaking to the very people we claim to love the most.
The children catch wind of this frightening hypocrisy and turn into the little maniacs that simmer just below the surface. Our greed fuels their greed. Our frustration and crankiness spawn their defiance, whininess, and tantrums. Suddenly the plans to thank God and remember a Savior are knocked to the floor as we trample them on the way to the kitchen for more pie, or throw them out with mounds of wrecked wrapping paper.
There has to be a better way. Our goals for simple living are to: 1) control our spending so we can give money where it is needed and to travel, and 2) to control our calendar so we can spend time with people and build relationships that matter. I’m going into this season with those thoughts firmly in mind. I’ve thought about tattooing them across my person but that seems a little drastic.
A few weeks ago I threw out a little idea to the kiddos– “Hey, kids. What would you think about getting one gift for Christmas and then going somewhere as a family?” I thought this might fall flat, but their ears perked right up. After a little negotiating about whether stocking stuffers counted as one gift and if a water park hotel might be in the offerings, we had a deal.
So far they’re even more excited about this Christmas than the others. I think last year they got a little stressed out as they made their lists. Because, quite frankly, even they knew they didn’t want too much.
As far as the budget goes, it turns out that hotels with water parks aren’t cheap in December, so we’re actually spending as much money as we would have. But we won’t be cluttering up our house with things they won’t play with and we’ll be spending time together as a family. It’s not perfect, but it’s close.
How about your family? What are your goals this season, and how are you planning to reach them?
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