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A Simple Christmas
This post is about a Christmas more than ten years ago, when Larry and I were living in Florida and had decided to opt-out of the industrial consumer Christmas. It's from an earlier blog I had about Nature.
I realize that what I am about to describe here may seem sparse to some of you, however, keep in mind that where I am today is the result of about twenty-five years of inching away from commercial Christmas and moving closer to Nature. The original title was "Chrismas Debriefing" because I wrote it after Christmas.
I didn't buy a Christmas tree this year, but one appeared on Christmas Eve. Larry went down to Home Depot to buy some hardware parts and came back with a Christmas tree! "They were just giving them away for free," he said. He set it up and we put little white lights on it and the gold star on the top and it was perfect. I like having a tree because the hanging of evergreens around the house goes way back before Christmas. In earlier cultures, it was part of participating in the yearly cycle of life by holding the intention that life will continue on during the bleak days of winter, just as the evergreen tree does. I always seem to be able to have evergreens. One Christmas I didn't even have my own home and was staying with a friend. Walking down the street one day after a storm, I found the sidewalk strewn with evergreen branches that had been blown down from an overhanging tree.
This was the first Christmas where I gave very few gifts, and almost all of them were special gluten-free, natural sweetener cookies and confections of the variety that took a lot of labor. Not that all gluten-free, naturally-sweetened cookies take a lot of labor, but some of these did. And so it was a gift of time and love to make these, and they brought their recipients much joy. But there was no Christmas shopping.
A funny thing happened on Christmas Day having to do with gift-giving. We went to Christmas dinner at the home of some friends and was asked to bring an inexpensive gift to exchange. Though it was an obligation, I chose to participate and wrapped something I already had and no longer needed in a reusable gift bag I had kept from a gift I had received. We played a game, I don't know if there is a name for it. All the gifts are put on a table and everyone draws a number. The person with number one chooses first, any gift on the table. Number two can choose from the table or take number one's gift and if number one's gift is taken, he or she chooses a new gift from the table. And this goes on and on, each person having the opportunity to choose a wrapped gift from the table that is a surprise, or a known gift already opened by someone else. Well, as it turned out, one of the gifts was something I actually wanted! It was something I had seen on TV but hadn't bought. But I had a very high interest in it. Larry got it so I knew I could use it, so I chose a surprise, and it was a gift card! Even though this was an obligation gift, it all turned out perfectly for me. I had an overall intention that the gifts I receive would be well suited to me, and even though these gifts were totally random, given to nobody in particular, the gifts I ended up with were perfect for me.
The interesting thing to me was this year—even though there was no participation in the commercial Christmas—I was completely satisfied because I focused on the pleasures of the spirit...love and joy, goodwill, singing with friends, helping others, and creating gifts that were works of art which brought delight and supported good health.
This is one of my personal aims: to focus on expanding the spiritual aspect of my life rather than the physical. And I accomplished this well. It's not about giving up the physical entirely, but having a physical life that is based on what is needed to sustain a well-functioning life rather than an accumulation of things for the sake of accumulation, or for that matter, physical presents for the sake of physical presents. Giving of oneself is a gift too.
It was the simplest Christmas I've ever had, but in many ways the most satisfying. I feel happy today.