What About Simplifying This Christmas?

by Christine Sine

Lord teach me to live simply

I wrote this prayer last year when starting to prepare for Advent and the Christmas season. Christmas is a season when all of us spend too much, eat too much and hurry too much. All of us need help in focusing on what really matters at this season. The strident messages of the consumer culture bombard us at every turn and it is hard to say no.

Now is the time to think about ways to simplify the season. In my post What if the Goal of Our Economy Wasn’t More But Better, I suggested watching The Story of Solutions video from thestoryofstuff.com and gave suggestions on how to help kids give back at Christmas. (Sorry I doubled up with many of these in a more recent post). Now prayerfully consider ways that you could simplify Christmas this year and cut back on consumption.

Read the prayer above through several times and then reflect on this quote: 

Simplicity is no great virtue unless wedded to right priorities. A desirable simplicity entails the recognition of what is important in life, coupled with the strength of will to structure one’s daily existence around that recognition. It requires minimizing the impact of one’s life of unimportant things, an extremely difficult task in an acquisitive and schedule-filled culture. Daniel Taylor In Search of Sacred Places(148)

What comes to mind. Write down what you feel God is saying about your need to simplify? 

Now read through this passage from Mathew 6:25-33 here quoted from The Message.

If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

“Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

 “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

What comes to mind as you read this passage? What else do you need to do to simplify this Christmas?

Now listen to this song and allow God to speak to you

Here are a couple of resources to explore to help:

A Buy Nothing Christmas

Unplug the Christmas Machine,

Simple Living Works is a great resource for simplifying our lives not just at Christmas but all the year. I particularly recommend listening to some of their Whose Birthday Is It Anyway? podcasts.

Christmas Gifts that Won’t Break provides weekly Advent reading, looks at spiritual gifts that bring hope, peace, joy, and love to family, community, and world and challenges people to rethink the gifts they ask for and give during the Advent and Christmas seasons.

Centre for A New American Dream has a great downloadable booklet Simplify the Holidays as well as other resources. 

5 Tips To Have A More Ethical Thanksgiving provides some excellent ideas that we should apply to Christmas too like buying from small local businesses.

Truceteachers.org has an excellent guide with ideas for toy buying during the Christmas season.  Some of their suggestions are be thoughtful, plan a family experience together like going for a hike, a bike ride, or helping out a neighbor and be creative.

And some ideas for families and kids from The Overflow Project on how to simplify their toys. Believe it or not kids enjoy gifts their family or friends have made far more than expensive store bought ones.

Only give gifts of home made toys and or crafts

Give toys away at Christmas rather than accumulating more.

○ Host a toy exchange with friends.

Think About Going Green

How about a living Christmas tree this year? . We have used a living tree for many years and most nurseries have them available in many different sizes. You may want to plant the tree out when you are finished with or, like us put it outside still in the pot to keep growing until next year. Trees like this often survive for many years as long as you do not bring them inside.

Also some ideas for thinking about sustainability at Christmas time:  How To Have A Green Christmas, I love some of their suggestions like a battery free Christmas, connecting to nature and alternatives to gift wrapping. They also have some excellent suggestions on sustainable giving that will probably be added to my master list next year. 

And let me know – how are you simplifying this Christmas?

This is part of a series I am posting on resources for Advent and Christmas. The entire series is available as a free downloadIt is designed to be used in conjunction with our Advent/Christmas resource A Journey Toward Home. 

Other posts in the series:

Getting ready for a Blue Christmas

Getting Ready for Advent/Christmas Worship Resources for the Season

 Who Will You Invite to the Manger?

Helping Kids Give Back This Christmas

Advent Activities for Families and Kids

Advent Is Coming What Scriptures Will You Read

Some Thoughts on Christmas Music

You might also like to check out other resources from MSA.

MSA has a variety of resources available for celebrating the season of Advent and Christmas

A Journey Toward Home: Soul Travel For Advent to Lent compiled by Kristin Carroccino and Christine Sine

Waiting for the Light: An Advent Devotional compiled by Ricci Kilmer, Susan Wade and Christine Sine

Return to Our Senses: Reimagining How We Pray by Christine Sine

Prayer Cards. – more than Christmas gifts. These have been used for daily devotions, grief counselling, small groups and congregational prayers.

Each year at MSA we produce an Advent meditation video. These can be viewed online or purchased by in high resolution by download or DVD.

Advent 2013 – Come Home to God.

Advent 2012 – Alleluia – The Christ Child Comes.

The entire series of Advent videos from 2007-2012

In 2013 we also produced a series of podcasts hosted by Christine Sine and Ryan Marsh that you may like to listen to.

First week of Advent with Tara Ward and Chelle Stearns listen here,

Second week of Advent with Aaron Strumpel, Dwight Friesen, and Donna and Jim Mathwig listen here

Third Week of Advent with Karen Ward, Tacey Howe Wispelwey and Mary September listen here

Fourth Week of Advent with Lacey Brown, and Tom Sine listen here.

This post is part of a series on resources for Christmas and Advent. You might like to check out the other posts in the series or download the entire series plus more information on Advent/Christmas here. 

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Denise Swoveland November 8, 2014 - 1:32 pm

Good ideas, I need to declutter before Christmas. I think get rid of stuff will help me grow spiritually and a better relationship with Christ. I had another idea maybe person can give a gift card to spa or to a art class to local art school.

Christine Sine November 8, 2014 - 1:52 pm

Sounds good Denise and I think too that when we are spiritually focused the desire to accumulate becomes less


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