Monday, December 29, 2008

Theme of my current life

In an effort to decrease stress and increase joy, I've been hunting for the simple life. I discovered a series of books by Elaine St James that really hit home to me that life should be easy, not hard, if I make a few changes.

Her Simplify Christmas book had several great ideas. I used a variation of one tip and created a survey for my brood to give me their top 5 things they love about Christmas and top 5 things they didn't like so much.

So, the tallies are in. We have our top 5 loves:
  1. Christmas Music ~ local radio station plays just that from Thanksgiving til Dec 26th.
  2. Food ~ dinners, cookies, candies etc. Making it, gifting it and eating it.
  3. Fire in the fireplace ~ well it didn't happen this year. Our fireplace was determined to have a major safety flaw that could potential catch on fire ~ so we've ordered the new parts but they didn't make it in time for Christmas. We are so grateful to an HONEST chimney sweep that explained the problem and didn't charge us for his time so far. But he'll be back to clean it and repair the problems when parts arrive.
  4. Seeing the looks on people's faces when they open their gifts.
  5. Getting exactly what you want for Christmas and nothing else.

Okay, number 5 was the top choice for all 4 guys, which I found very interesting. Seems in years past, they got various gifts that were "fillers" and didn't get the one thing they wanted. The point of the survey was to simplify. To honor them and the new spirit, I vowed to only get them exactly what they had asked for. Nothing more, nothing less.

Look what I found on the tree

Dalton, age 15 asked for several things. But his top items were some new clothes and cologne. He got to go on a shopping spree (how I HATE shopping) but he chose wisely and picked things that were on super discount. He was happy even though he didn't get that thrill of being surprised, he said it was better to have exactly what he wanted then to have to return things or pretend to be happy.

Braden, age 12, asked for 2 video games and a bible. Luckily we live in an area where used video games are plentiful so by buying used, we got both for him. The bible he asked for is one of those huge, leather bound, heirloom type of bible. I'm certainly not opposed to him having one, but the budget didn't allow for it. He did get cash from grandparents and also a neighbor so he will be spending his money on it.

Cole, age 10, asked for 3 things. A pocket knife for whittling, money to buy books and a puzzle.

Aubrey, age 6, asked for a Princess Barbie, clothes and anything I liked to buy for her.

Emma, age 2, saw a baby doll in the store a while back that she asked for. It looks just like her ~ brown hair and blue eyes. She also needed new clothes and she got a new board book that I couldn't resist.

Emma and Baby Emma

Jerry didn't ask for anything, but Dalton and I saw the Discovery channel's Planet Earth DVD game and knew he'd like it.

All in all, the gift shopping was super easy, but I found myself fighting the impulse to buy other things. And, when I was wrapping gifts, it felt weird to be wrapping so few things. I was worried that on Christmas morning they'd be sad or disappointed. I was so wrong.

Christmas morning I was so excited I had to wake the kids up at 7:30 just to open their gifts. Sorry Braden, I know that was on your "what I don't like" list ~ but honestly, who sleeps in on Christmas?!

It was a wonderful Christmas. Everybody was happy with their gifts and what they had made/gotten for each other. Not one person said, "Is that IT?" or "Please tell me there's something else" or "I didn't want THIS". (All have been uttered before.) I was delighted and felt a real sense of peace. It was what I secretly put at the top of my list: to ENJOY the day together. And, that's just what we did.

PS the Top 5 List of what we didn't like:

  1. Feeling rushed
  2. People being crabby or fighting with each other
  3. Useless gifts
  4. Faking being happy
  5. Shopping

My personal don't-like-list includes decorating the tree. This year, I told the kids to have at it. They had a blast. They used colored lights (never before seen in my house!) and only a handful of ornaments that they each liked best (usually we try to cram them all on.) Oh, and tons of candy canes. I vote they take over all the decorating from now on.

1 comment:

Patrice Farmer said...

I need to get that book but I too simplified for the very first time and having one child I tended to try to fill up the tree so it looked like alot-(not consciously)-but I would just buy her all kinds of stuff and this being the first year I gave her just 4 things I couldn't believe she said she got everything she wanted and that she didn't need anything else...amazing! All those years of buying crap and it didn't take much for her wants to be met. I really enjoyed Christmas this year too!!!