Like that title?
It’s a little weird because I was torn for my Perspectives column topic for last week’s newsletter.
I had planned a follow up to my previous We the People post, in light of all that’s going on in our country regarding potential election fraud and the fact that our American Democracy may be teetering on the edge of a cliff.
However, I also recognize you may be sick of hearing about all of that.
So, instead, I’d decided to write about 5 ways you can simplify Christmas this year.
Once I start thinking about all of that, my brain started doing what it does when I have a bunch of ideas I want to write about.
In fact, Saturday morning, I was so distracted by all of that I started the washer without realizing it; put the wrong pillowcase on the wrong pillow (yes our pillowcases don’t match on purpose and I have certain ones for certain pillows); put a dryer sheet in the washer; and almost gave my hair a second helping of mousse.
I know, maybe I should’ve gone back to bed.
But, that’s what happens when I start thinking about writing, and why I should sit down and focus on that instead of trying to multi-task.
I do want to talk about 5 ways you can simplify Christmas this year, but I also want to acknowledge that there’s a lot of disturbing stuff afoot—lest you think I have my head in the sand.
And if the allegations of election fraud are true, it’s not a partisan issue.
Instead, it’s a problem for every American.
This is our country, our democracy, and our vote.
So, the title of the original post I was going to write was “We the People May Have Been Duped.”
Honestly, I feel helpless about a lot of this stuff.
Which is why I try to stay focused on Jesus and spreading a positive message about the hope He offers instead of getting tangled up in expressing my opinions about various things.
What I know for sure is that I’m a temporary dweller here, this world is not my home, and that God will reign victorious in the end.
My primary purpose while I’m here is to try to help others come to either know Jesus for the first time—or deepen an existing relationship with Him.
And there are endless ways I can mess that up if I allow myself to get in the way.
Which is why we’re going to now shift to talking about the 5 ways you can simplify your Christmas this year. 😊
5 Ways You Can Simplify Your Christmas This Year
1. Decorate less.
When Dave started pulling all of our Christmas decorations out of storage last week, that included three big bins that housed our artificial tree. He got a great deal on it many years ago and it was a perfect fit for the bay window alcove we had in our Dunedin home.
However, it was heavy, so lifting it to the garage loft there took both of us—and we eventually decided to store the individual sections in separate bins.
Still, it’s a big ‘ole tree and each year it’s felt more cumbersome to put up. Last year, so many of the pre-attached lights were burned out that I had to buy several sets to fill in the dark patches.
So, when Dave looked at me this year and asked if I was ready to downsize to a smaller tree, I eagerly jumped on board.
We enjoyed many wonderful Christmas celebrations around that beautiful tree—as we will around our much smaller version outfitted with lights that we picked up at Walmart for $39.99.
That single change spurred others for me, like decorating just one area instead of the whole house—and sharing some treasures with others who can benefit.
2. Cook and bake less.
At Thanksgiving each year, we typically have a house full of family. Since this year was pared down due to virus concerns, there was much less food needed.
In that light, I only baked two homemade pies instead of the minimum of four (that’s kind of how Mom’s pie crust recipe shakes out and we typically baked six when we made them together) and decided to cook a turkey breast instead of the whole bird.
Imagine my delight to find that Publix had Jenni-O frozen turkey breasts already seasoned and snugged into a cooking bag! A label that touts freezer-to-table in around 3 hours makes me a bit leery, but they weren’t kidding! And the meat was tender and delicious to boot! (Lots of exclamation points because it was awesome!)
That’s absolutely a new simple habit I’m adopting—since the dark meat goes largely untouched, and I always feel guilty throwing it away.
As far as those pie crusts…after rolling the first two, I realized how much harder that gets each year with the creep of arthritis into my hands—which I must protect for all the typing I need to do.
So I’m sure Mom won’t mind if I opt for a ready-made version from the refrigerator section next year.
3. Eat less and exercise more.
I know, and I love all those sweets just as much as the next person.
But the older we get, the more our metabolisms slow down—which means it gets increasingly difficult to take off those holiday pounds.
And being at a healthy weight is important for all kinds of reasons—like mobility and preventing chronic disease.
Plus, if we eat less, we can cook and bake less—which means we have more time and money to do the stuff we really want to do.
And if we exercise more, we’ll have the calories available to enjoy a few treats here and there.
Best of all, if we keep things in check now, we won’t have so much to deal with when it comes to those New Year’s resolutions.
4. Spend less.
Speaking of New Year’s resolutions…
Like me, this one probably ends up on your list, too. But I’m happy to say that over the years we’ve gradually cut back on Christmas spending.
As we all know, this shouldn’t hold as much weight as our things-focused society says it should.
The awareness of gift-spending habits was reinforced to me recently, when I was reading Nearing Home, by Billy Graham.
In the section in which he talks about finances as we’re getting older, Billy says, “Don’t give gifts you can’t afford. This often happens when grandparents try to buy the affection of children or grandchildren by showering them with overly generous gifts” (p.62).
Our love for someone else isn’t expressed with our wallets—but by all the unique ways we show love and support within the relationships that are meaningful to us.
5. Worry less.
And speaking of relationships…
The holidays are notorious for triggering difficult stuff where others are concerned. Lots of people struggle in this area, and if you’re one of them, know you’re not alone.
Family expectations, difficult memories of past holidays, and concern that you’re going to somehow let someone down can all create worry during the Christmas season.
But instead of focusing on what everyone else thinks, I’m going to encourage you to focus on what God thinks.
Take those worries to Him and let Him help you sort it all out.
In Hamlet (no, I don’t know Shakespeare, I had to look this up), when Polonius was giving his son Laertes advice about how to behave when he went away to school, one of the things he said was, “To thine own self be true.”
That encouragement is used in many contexts today, and it’s good advice to follow when it comes to the holidays.
If that sounds selfish, I don’t believe it is.
All it’s saying is that you should understand your own needs and take care of yourself first—which is the same as putting on your own oxygen mask in the airplane before you pass out so you can then help the child who is depending on you.
The world is full of people who are burned out in various ways because they’ve never learned how to take care of themselves—and that does no one any good.
Jesus wants us to be as loving and gentle with ourselves as He wants us to be with others.
With His help, we can do both.
This post is adapted from Sue’s Perspectives column in the latest edition of The Empowered Traveler™ Newsletter. If you’re not already a subscriber, you can do that here: Subscribe to Sue’s newsletter.
Feature photo by Kae Anderson on Unsplash.