I think I might finally be making some progress on the minimalist front. Baby steps, at least. After Thanksgiving, I took down the Autumn decorations and then put away some of my other things, too. My intention was to create space for Christmas. Despite my efforts to downsize my ridiculous collections of holiday ‘stuff’ prior to my move last year, the size of it is still impressive. Let’s just say I could easily decorate a Newport mansion.
Anyway, I unpacked a few of my favorite and most precious things and put them on display. Then a funny thing happened. Instead of longing for the rest of my sentimental things, I found a blissful peace among the simple. The soft lights from my basic winter village and my Nana’s antique ceramic tree provided all the spirit I needed. Suspicious that the feeling would wear off, I waited. A week went by and then two.
I mentioned the possibility that I was not getting a real tree to a couple of people close to me. They reacted with disbelief. Because it is our tradition, I visited two tree farms the day after Thanksgiving but found nothing that suited me. Looking back, I believe it was because I felt that I did not need a tree at all. I was contented with my modest and humble surroundings.
In the end, I caved and bought a full size, artificial tree. When it came time to decorate, I was glad. My ornaments are so meaningful to me and bring me more joy than any other material things. But I added little else. The desire to experience an uncomplicated Christmas carried over to other areas. I did much less shopping and very little baking. With careful consideration, I chose the traditions that felt most important to my family. The rest – I graciously let go.
The results were staggering. I approached the most chaotic and stressful days of the year completely relaxed and at peace. There was so much time for quiet contemplation and appreciation. Each moment was one to be savored. The time was spent with the small handful of people closest to me.
Even the aftermath was better: No letdown, little clean up. The peaceful feeling has carried me into the new year and, hopefully, beyond. Less really is more. I placed less demands on myself. Sure, there were less decorations, less gifts and (maybe) less food. The trade off was more time, more energy, more clarity. And, most importantly, more enjoyment.
That’s an exchange I’m willing to make – any time of year.