We just had a garage sale today at my house. We did pretty good. Got rid of a ton of stuff and made $225 for a half day’s work. All this despite the fact that it rained the entire time and we’re currently under a tropical storm warning for Hurricane Sandy, or The Frankenstorm, as she is being called.
As I placed a few empty boxes back in the attic I was confronted by a minimalist’s worst nightmare…Christmas decorations. I just don’t get it. It’s not the Christmas spirit thing that I don’t get into. It’s just that we seem to absolutely have to define the Christmas spirit by stuff.
My wife likes to decorate a lot for Christmas. She enjoys it. The kids enjoy it. I hate it. It’s a logistical nightmare the way it gets done at my house. Unpacking all the stuff from the attic takes 2-3 full days. It takes up around 250 sf of attic space. I’m talking a huge tree, wreaths, penguins, a polar bear, and more plastic boxes of misc. stuff including probably a few thousand feet of electrical cords. Then there’s a full week of setup and installation. Then sometime in January there’s another full week of repacking.
They all think I’m a Scrooge because I’d rather celebrate Christmas a little different. What do you think? I just really don’t think the entire season needs to be celebrated by ‘stuff’ and then capped off at the end by the giving of more ‘stuff’. Is it not possible to celebrate the birth of a Savior who gave up omnipotence for a wee body? Who gave up Heaven for a feeding trough? Think about it. Isn’t the way He came into the world an act of minimalism so utterly complete and great that we should pay more attention to it rather than changing it into what best fits our desire to always want more stuff?
So, what would a minimalist Christmas look like? I can’t answer for everyone, but I’ll tell you what I’d like to do if my family would let me. I’d like to have a big plastic box, say about 2×4 in size. It fits in the attic easy. You can carry it through doorways. I’d fill the box with decorations and no more than that. Maybe a couple of wreaths, a manger scene, some lights for the living room. For gifts, I’d try to buy each person that I buy for something either incredibly meaningful or useful. For me, if people buy me gifts, I’d ask for the same. I’m fine with gift certificates, especially for food. They give me a chance to eat out more and not worry about it. Or it would be even cooler if we all just took the money we would’ve spent and spent that on an experience, like a nice dinner, a weekend vacation together, or some kind of outing we’d all enjoy.
I think I would still have a tree. My sister has the most awesome tree that I really love. It’s a replica of the one from a Charlie Brown Christmas cartoon. For me, that’d be perfect. That little tree and a few ornaments for each member of the family. That’s what I’d do. I think the tree’s place in the story kind of defines how I feel.
I don’t want to be a Grinch, but I also don’t want to be nothing but a Christmas consumer. I think my minimalist Christmas would look a lot like the end of Charlie Brown’s Christmas story where they all learn what it really means.
I’m curious though. Most people have a strong opinion on how they celebrate Christmas. What’s your opinion?