Last year my husband and I moved from Austin to New Braunfels in the middle of the holiday season. With the physical and mental stress of downsizing from our home of 24 years, we just couldn’t face challenge and pressure of Christmas shopping. We also realized that we didn’t want or need anything more than what we had selectively chosen to take with us to our new home.
So we told our adult children we did not want any gifts and that instead of giving any, we were going to donate money we would have spent on gifts to a charitable organization. We chose to give to the Society for Animal Rescue and Adoption (SARA). What a relief not to have to make Christmas lists that continued to grow, along with mounting expenses. It also eliminated the dilemma of what to get for whom and whether what we chose would be something the recipient really liked or wanted. Conversely, it spared our having to feign exuberance over gifts for which we had no use or desire. I was overjoyed at not having to push through throngs of frenzied shoppers in crowded stores while being assaulted by incessant canned Christmas music. And I did not have hours to spend on the computer trying to find just the right gifts. Instead of a tree and elaborate decorations, we simply put bowls of colored Christmas balls surrounded by wreaths and lighted candles in the living and dining areas. Also, rather than sending out numerous Christmas cards, we sent only a few to friends and relatives who lived out of town.
During the holiday season we got together at our new home with our children and their families over informal dinners, after which we sometimes played games or just sat, talked and laughed. Everyone seemed to enjoy the relaxed, casual atmosphere without the pressure of buying obligatory gifts. We also saw some of our old and dear friends.
In downsizing to our new home, we found unanticipated satisfaction and joy in reestablishing our priorities and expectations for the holiday season. This year we decided to continue this simpler way of celebrating the spirit of the season with those we truly care about. Without the usual holiday madness, the words “peace and joy” have taken on a significant new meaning.