I can't believe that Thanksgiving is just days away, and that a week from tomorrow, I will probably be draping garland and twinkle lights from the porch railing. Are you ready for this? I'm not! I am, however, in a much better place than I would have been in years past, believe you me!
How did I get to this place? Since moving here to Wimberley, I have been learning, step by step, how to bring the holidays back down to size. How does one do that? Well, it's different for each family, as are our priorities and beliefs, but the crux of it is: figure out what is truly important to you...and what isn't, then...just...let... it... go.
Here are a few things we did, to rein the madness in:
- Stopped throwing big parties for everyone we know, and concentrated on simple, intimate dinners with only our closest friends.
- Cut way back on the amount of holiday decorations we had to haul down, set up, take down, and pack back up each year. Nothing has to be hauled down from the attic anymore. Instead, we have a few plastic crates and a pre-lit tree in the storage room, a few special teapots and ceramic pieces in the hutch, some candles, and fruit and greenery from the yard - all of which can easily be set up in one afternoon. (I used to get my fruit from the grocery store, but now I have pomegranates and tangerines right outside my door!)
- Pestered my siblings, year after year, until they finally agreed to try drawing names at Christmas. We all still give gifts to the old folks and little kids, but the rest of us put our names in a hat, then have all year to find just the right gift for one special person, instead of scrambling around for a dozen or more it'll-do-gifts, that will probably end up being re-gifted. Even the sibling who fought it the hardest, finally admitted that she loved the new system, and didn't miss the piles of gifts at all. Best of all, we are now able to slow down enough to open them one at a time, and actually see what each person gets!
- John's family is much smaller than mine, so we still give gifts to each person: I give something hand-made to each of the three women (a new tradition that began last year, and is now my favorite part of the season), and John orders something geeky for each of the three guys.
- With the money we save by drawing names and giving hand-made, we are able to help out some needy children each year. A friend who is a social worker gives us some names, and John and I have a date night where we go out to dinner, then have a blast in the children's clothing and toy departments. We LOVE shopping for little kids. They are so very easy to please, and for so little $$!
For the last couple of years, John and I have agreed not to buy each other gifts, since we didn't really need anything anymore. Instead, we would just fill each other's stocking. I kept my end of the bargain. He did not. Either year. At all! I gave up.
What about you? What is really important to you, and what are you ready to just...let...go?