Saturday, December 06, 2008

Simply Celebrating Christmas: Simple Satisfactions

I remember coming at the end of a Christmas season about ten or twelve years ago and wondering at my frustration. There were no severe money trials that season, nothing that should have kept me from enjoying Christmas but... I couldn't put my finger on it... there was this sense of a lack of satisfaction... an unsettled feeling.

Soon after that, I was reading an article (magazine... book?) about this very thing. In it, the author said she learned to write out what it was she wanted from the Christmas season, what was most important to her. When I started doing that, I realized why the previous season had been lacking in joy.

It had been a rushed Christmas, the "doing" of many activities I felt I should do and not "being" the person I wanted to be that Season. My frustrations stemmed from a lack of getting away, alone beside my Christmas tree, enjoying that which comes from prayer and study and reading of books. I also had not said "no" to some outside activities that did not bring peace and joy.

Since that time, I have enjoyed making a list each season. My list has changed since that time due to health and finances but only in the "big" things. My list back then included attending a Christmas concert that I loved each year. However, it became too expensive even when we did have a regular income. It wasn't that much of a priority that I'd spend more for tickets to a concert then I would on a week's worth of groceries.

Another item on my list that has gone by the wayside is hosting a big Christmas party. I loved decorating the house and having a lot of people over but that season is now behind me. I remember one very magic (Narnia magic) party in our former house when we invited over Stephanie's college group. There was a tree in the family room and one in the living room, a fire was burning in the fire place, food placed in various areas, conversations were going on in many rooms of the house.

Later that night, as the young people were leaving, one student came up to tell me that night will be one of his "perfect Christmas memories" when he leaves college. It is one of my perfect memories, too. :)

I have found by making a list of those things I love about Christmas, I can make certain what means the most to me (and for my family) becomes a priority for time and money. Here are a few for this year, written out on paper before transferring to my scrapbook journal. Of course, I can't do them all but any of them on the "wish list" would make my season bright.
  • Decorating the house with my snowman collection
  • Carefully placing all my ornaments on the tree
  • Morning quiet times in the dark, with the tree lit
  • A breakfast out at Cracker Barrel during Christmas
  • Lunch with the guys at our favorite cafeteria
  • Holiday Baking
  • Candy Cane Lane tea
  • Listening to the music of the season
  • Watching favorite Christmas movies
  • Reading favorite Christmas books
  • Seeing what yummies The Food Channel comes up with this year
  • One or two Pumpkin Spice Latte's to enjoy
  • A morning at Panera sipping coffee and writing a real letter
  • Visit my sister, Bonnie, to see how she decorated her place (she has that wow factor)
  • Send a small gift to my sister, Jean, knowing it is her first Christmas as a widow
  • Send Christmas cards to our elderly aunties
  • Visit my favorite "downtown" primitive country store... breath in the scents, no purchase necessary
Most of my list this year involves more solitude than in the past. It has been that kind of year. None require much money.

This is only a way of thinking through what brings joy... and peace... and faith... and what lifts my thoughts to the One Who Made Me.

Little satisfactions in the most wondrous and magical time of the year.

I encourage you to brew a little pot of tea and fill your favorite tea cup, bring along a notebook and pen, light the Christmas tree if you have one, and think about those things that bring joy to your heart at Christmas. Are you making time for them? Did you budget for them through the year? What makes your heart sing with gladness?

You don't need to do them all, just choose a few that will cause you to look back at this Christmas and smile... and remember, Christmas is not about the price of gifts or how many are given, it is about the Giver of all gifts.

Simply Celebrating Christmas is sponsored by the Keeper of the Home blog.

15 comments:

Manuela said...

Hi Brenda,

What a good idea! I'm going to try it. I haven't felt in the Christmas Spirit at all this year and I really can't put my finger on why. I've tried cutting back so I'm not super busy with committments.... Maybe it's all the doom and gloom in the news each day - beats me?

Anway, I've talked my husband into trying Cracker Barrel for breakfast - I'll let you know how it goes ~ smile!

Manuela

Tracey McBride said...

Dear Brenda,

You make such true and wise observations...and so beautifully written. I love your advice about writing out your expectations and potential activities in advance. Your example was really helpful to me--I get too detailed at times when list making. Thank you for a lovely read that will very much enhance (as it simplifies) our holiday season.

Warmly,
Tracey

window into our life of love, joy, and adventures! said...

Good Morning!
I enjoyed reading your post and I think today I will sit with my favorite cup of tea of course, and make my list.
Hubby and I were just talking the other day about really taking the time to enjoy the season for what it truly stands for and not get caught up in the "mess" it can become. Our whole family seems to need the simplicity this year.
Hmmmm, Cracker Barrel will sure be on that list! Do I dare add ice skating? Oh my!

Niki RuralWritings said...

Good Morning Brenda,
I'm such a major list maker, but I've never made a list like that. I will be writing one out today. What a great help it will be on keeping me focused on what's really important this Christmas. I can't believe I never thought to write one!
Blessings to you
Niki

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

Brenda,

I also love the conviviality that a warm, welcoming decorated home brings to friends and guests! Good food, background Christmas music, candlelight and wonderful aromas! Alas, my house is in no shape to indulge this Christmas wish! Working full time, helping to care for extended family leaves me with no time or energy to do everything that needs to be done! But next year, my hope is to have it all done, even send out Christmas cards. My gift to myself this year is to attend Advent services to enjoy the quiet, to attend a free concert at a local church, and to try to brighten up Christmas for my three grandchildren who will experience their first holiday in a broken home. Love your blog! It brightens my day! V

Cherrie said...

I am having a hard time getting in the spirit of Christmas. I was laid off in mid Nov. I have never been on unemployment before so money is tight.
Thank you for this wonderful ideal. Because I may be poor money wise but I am rich with Family. And I have Jesus to help me thru everything!
Thank you again!

Friend Debra said...

Brenda,I love how your blog always makes me feel rested after I visit it. Thanks for reminding me of the important things in Christmas. The great I AM poured Himself into helpless flesh of a tiny baby! May His love surround you always.

Debra

Angela said...

That was beautiful Brenda. Today before I went grocery shopping I saw a toy that was on 'sale' and thought I would pick it up for my daugther.It's on 'sale', so why not? Than I got to thinking of all the wonderful toys to her collection that I have already bought for her during the summer months at yard sales. She didn't REALLY need more, she has so much that she plays with,and enjoys. Why was I buying it? I have seen how my spending from previous years was mostly buy buy buy, it's on sale, might as well pick it up, even though they don't NEED it. This year, I've noticed how my spending and the thought put into the gifts has taken a different turn, for the wiser. I have not used the credit card once, thank You precious Jesus for self control, wisdom and peace. I have bought wisely, with care and from the heart. Like you, I won't be giving the huge party this Christmas. I won't be baking the HUGE amounts of baked good and delivering them to ALOT of people. I will pray to the Lord, ask for His leading to help me give to those He has placed upon my heart, instead of trying to give to as many people as I can give too. I will spend time in the mornings, during the day, and into the evening, keeping my focus on what this season is all about...Thanks again for sharing your wisdom, love and blessings..
((hugs))

Mrs. Rabe said...

I love this idea!

Christmas can be rushed and hectic and crazy or it can be filled with wonderful moments, some quiet - some not! :)

But all focused on the one who CHRISTmas is about!

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Thank you for this post. Sometimes the simplest of ideas evade me. This is such a practical and useful thing to do that I am going to sit down this evening just as you suggested.

Abounding Treasures said...

What a wonderful list of wonderful, cozy ideas you've shared Brenda!

Those are the things that make this season enjoyable for me as well so I'm going to make a point of learning to say NO to invitations that won't bring any joy :o)

Blessings!

*carrie* said...

Brenda,

I agree that this is a good idea. I like lists, too, as they help me be more focused. Thanks for sharing!

moreofhim said...

What a fabulous idea! I sometimes get too caught up in the "perfect-ness" of Christmas, instead of getting caught up in what it's really about. I love the idea of making my list and focusing on what it's really about.

God bless you ~ Julie

Linda said...

Hi Brenda:
I just discovered your blog and it is just the right medicine for me today as I have been very grouchy and self pitying. Your honesty and encouragement made a difference to me today.

Thank you,
Linda Nichols

Mrs. Staggs said...

I try everyday to spend a certain amount of time with myself. Even when my son was small, I'd get up very early to do that. This Christmas I admit to still feeling a bit out of sorts, and I know that it is because I'm putting expectations on myself for some reason. You've reminded me of what I most love about this time of year. Thank you.