A Simpler Christmas

I sometimes envy the way people celebrated Christmas in days gone by. The Delany Sisters, born in 1889 and 1891, often told me about being thrilled to find an orange in their Christmas stockings – an orange being a treat.

My mom recalls the Depression when some years there weren’t Christmas celebrations at all. One year she received a Shirley Temple doll, definitely the best gift of her entire childhood.

My dad’s favorite recollections of Christmas involve singing Christmas carols while someone played piano. His favorite: “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem.” He doesn’t remember the gifts; that wasn’t what was important to him.

In my generation, post-war parents began spoiling their children with many presents. This includes my parents! Still, Christmas in our household meant church. It meant carols. It meant fun traditions like baking cookies. No matter how crazed it seems looking back on it, our Christmases were nothing compared to what many people (usually women) feel they have to do today.

Here are a few suggestions for getting a handle on an out-of-control Christmas:

1) Think twice about adding someone to your gift list. If it’s an impulse, don’t do it, unless you are prepared to give a present to this person every year.

2) Never add anything new to your holiday plans without subtracting something else. You don’t have to do everything every year.

3) Give to charity rather than shopping for people who already have too much. It is so easy today to give to a favorite cause. Just go online and donate!

4) Buy local. Then you won’t have to worry if your gifts will arrive in time. Lots of “mom and pop” stores will even gift-wrap for you.

5) Share activities with your friends and neighbors. One of my friends, who lives alone and doesn’t want or need to bake a thousand cookies, participates in a “cookie swap” at her church. Less baking and more variety!

May you all have a Merry Christmas with many moments of peace and reflection!

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