A Minimalist’s Nightmare…Christmas

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?



6 thoughts on “A Minimalist’s Nightmare…Christmas

  1. ok, i am able to get all that stuff out and up in 2 days. i enjoy taking that time with the kids and me sing Christmas carols, listening to all kinds of Christmas music, and watching the Christmas movies. it is fun and we are able to have great quality time with my boys. it is also the best time to tell my kids about Jesus. how he came to earth and why.putting up Christmas decorations is an outward expression of the celebration, just like decorating for a kids birthday party.

  2. This is what our Christmas looks like…it takes me about two hours to decorate (three hours if you include actually going out to buy the tree). Our decorations fit in two plastic storage bins. We set a budget of around $100 for each person in the house for presents. (We don’t do the “Christmas is for children” thing that’s so popular…we all get loot. 😉 ) We still have tons of traditions though…we make cookies, leave stuff out for Santa and Santa Mouse, drink homemade hot cocoa, etc. It’s a super-happy and non-stressful time.

    Oh, we also agreed with family and friends a few years ago to stop doing present exchanging. We meet for dinner and enjoy the company of the people we love instead of doing the present thing.

    We have been talking about skipping the presents and taking a vacation instead, but we haven’t committed to anything yet.

    Probably more than you wanted to know about someone else’s Christmas traditions/methods. 😉

  3. I like the idea of creating traditions, especially if it’s around things that don’t create the need for more stuff. I can understand George Costanza’ desire to celebrate Festivus and its Feats of Strength.

  4. Yep, the new house is getting the same decorations as the last place. 🙂 This house is quite a bit larger than the apartment we were living in, but I think I can make it work without adding stuff. I *might* add a few of those electric candles for the front windows, but there is room in the storage boxes for those.

    Here’s a strange little exercise I did a few years back…I made a page in a notebook for each holiday…I then listed the things that I love about each holiday (or that people in my home love) and the things I did because I was “supposed to.” Everything on the “supposed to” list got eliminated from life. All of the holidays became much more pleasant when I did that.

    If your wife really enjoys all of that decorating, though, it would be kind of sad to Grinch it away. Maybe y’all can compromise on the amount of stuff or devise a new system for storage and set up that isn’t quite so space and time consuming?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s