The Minimalist’s Guide to Surviving Christmas - Minimalism Part 1
The Minimalist’s Guide to Surviving Christmas (This might not be the answer you’re looking for)
We live in a society and culture of plenty - maybe even, dare I say it? Excess. Many of us have taken to the minimalist lifestyle to cut down on the excess and live more purposefully. This journey into minimalism can often take months or years to find the right balance for a family! It takes reprogramming of habits and thinking. It takes making sacrifices for what feels “normal” to create a new normal! It takes going through years of memories tied up in things and figuring out how to take the memories and being ok with letting the things go.
It’s a lifestyle of being purposeful with your time, your relationships, how you spend your money and how you fill (or not fill) your living space. Minimalism isn’t just about having nothing in your home and bragging about how you don’t own furniture. It takes more time, effort and thought than that. It is a wonderful and fulfilling way of life! For many, it has been the means of creating a life filled with only beautiful and useful things.
Enter the Holiday season.
Now, don’t hate. I love the holidays as much, if not more, than the next person! It’s my favorite time of the year. I start listening to Christmas music in October and have my menu planned before Thanksgiving. But there is a lot of stuff that comes with the holidays! The decorations, the extra food, the layers of clothing just because it’s colder, the extra TREE hanging out in your living room. It’s just a lot of extras, ya’ know?
But one topic that comes up surrounding Christmas and minimalism that seems to cause the most stress among parents, is the receiving of gifts. And not for *us* but for our kids.
I’m right there with you. I’ve worked hard to create a home that is both comfortable and purposeful. So the thought (reality) of my kids getting a mountain of gifts that they’re only going to play with or use for 1.8 seconds, literally sounds like the worst thing ever.
It’s not that I don’t want my kids to experience a magical Christmas and have gifts to open Christmas morning, but I want them to remember the gifts and who it was who gave them these gifts. I want them to have gifts that are quality and that they’ll actually use for a long time!
So how can you, as a purposeful and minimalist parent, mesh a very commercialized holiday with your family’s values and still have happy kids and not hurt the feelings of family members?
I personally like the “Something to wear, something to read, something they want and something they need” idea. We’ve done that in past years. But that doesn’t cover what’s in-coming from family members! And this is often the area that causes so much stress and conflict. When family asks what they should buy or what your child needs or wants, make a list for them, give them clothing sizes and send them Amazon links. Make it easy for them. Explain why these items are listed. (Hint: Memberships or season passes to the zoo, museums, pools or other local attractions make wonderful, non-cluttering gift ideas!)
But what happens when a family member goes rogue and deviates from the list?? Stay with me. It’s going to be ok. *Deep breath*
So here’s the deal, and feel free to take this or leave it - But I believe that the whole point of a gift is to express love. If a grandparent wants to express that love with a 1000 piece lego set (bless them) and 10 pairs of pajama pants, I think they should! And I think the gift should be accepted with gratitude. Policing and censoring gifts to your children from family members on Christmas morning as the gifts are opened is a good way to disrupt family bonding during what should be a wonderful time. Graciously accepting a gift with a heart of gratitude is a character that children need to learn, and they won’t learn it if they see their parents get upset over a gift that wasn’t what they wanted it to be. This only shows them that it’s okay to reject a gift because it’s not what they wanted.
I’m going to take a little detour and talk to you, family members, grandparents, friends of minimalist families with kids. Yes, you.
Please be considerate. Nobody knows children better than the parents, they know what is needed and what their favorite things are, as well as what will fit in their home. If you are given a list, use it! Send pictures and ask “Would Johnny love this?”. Consider quality of quantity. Your minimalist family members would probably *love* it if their kids had toys that got played with until next year. And wouldn’t that make you happy too? Knowing that you got a gift that someone loves is just the best feeling!
During the holidays, minimalism can often take a shift from being purposeful with things to being purposeful with relationships. Don’t let those 2 things compete for importance. It’s one day out of the year, minimalism doesn’t go down the drain because of a few, or even a lot of gifts. The holidays is about showing love to those around us and spending time with them. Christmas and minimalism can absolutely co-exist peacefully! It’s all in the heart of the matter.
However! Once Christmas is over and the tornado of wrapping paper, boxes, glitter, Lego pieces, new pjs and bath sets has settled down, family members have gone home and children have crashed from their sugar high, it’s time to assess the situation and figure out your plan. But that’s a blog for another day. I will share with you how I tackle the recovery and organization after Christmas in Part 2! (Don’t you just hate that? LOL)
Read for from Mary here.