I went to the craft store in June and found the Christmas aisle was already stocked and sparkling. I was surprised! But since I love Christmas and the joy it brings, it brought a smile to my face and then I completely ignored it. I mean, that is way too early by any standard.
But as more Christmas items have appeared in the stores, I find myself wondering how to celebrate this holy time of year in a way that would make my Savior proud. I mean, I haven’t found a single nativity in my craft store. And I am struggling to find them at other stores as well. Target had precisely zero last week.
One of my favorite Christmas decorations is a sign that I found last year. It says “Simplify Christmas, Celebrate Christ.” Each time I see it, I’m reminded why we have Christmas. We are celebrating the Savior of the world and His entrance into it. I know that it’s also a time to love your fellow man. And family time is a vital part of Christmas for me, too. But that sign reminds me that I need to maintain my focus.
How many generations looked forward to Jesus’ coming? And now, how many generations have passed since then, all looking toward His Atonement to have hope that we can become better? That single most important event in all of human history remains at the center of the purpose of life.
So How Do We Simplify Christmas?
1: Simplify Gifts
I don’t know about you, but I’ve gone crazy with Christmas gifts in the past. This year I tried to knit a friend a hat and matching scarf in 24 hours. My poor family starved, I got nothing done, and I was so stressed that the gift became a burden.
So my first suggestion in simplifying Christmas is to simplify our gifts. Our children don’t need the $200 gifts they beg us for. And we don’t have to give everyone we have ever met a gift! Keeping to a budget and keeping things small will reduce our stress and make things more meaningful.
2: Family Time
When did December become a whole month of parties? Children have parties with their school classrooms. There are work parties and gatherings for nearly every club. We have parties for Scouts, tumbling class, and Sunday School. We have church gatherings and breakfasts. And then there are the concerts and recitals! It is quite easy to be busy every night of the week.
In my opinion, simplifying Christmas would mean reducing your social load as much as possible. Recitals and concerts are important. But why can’t teachers plan them earlier or later in the year? Is there a rule in the book that says everyone HAS to perform in December?
And parties are also nice, but not always necessary. I try to gauge my family’s emotional state before committing to attend. There are just sometimes when we need to get to bed early to preserve everyone’s health and well-being.
3: Focus on the Savior
I have had a lot of fun following the LDS Church’s #LightTheWorld initiative. They have calendars with ideas for every week in December. The idea is that as we are celebrating the Christmas season, we focus on one thing each week that brings the light of the Savior into our lives as we serve others. My son vacuumed the house for me today in his efforts to “Light the World,” and it made my day so much easier. I love a clean house.
As I have tried to find a way to serve each day, I have been so blessed. Today I offered a woman a ride. And as we talked, it turned out we both have children on the Autism spectrum. And she told me all about her elementary school and how much she loves the special ed department.
I am thrilled to have that information in case our schooling efforts ever need a revision. Now I know of another school that could be good for my son. If I had never offered her a ride, I would never have known.
I challenge you to simplify your Christmas. Celebrate Christ, spend time with your family and loved ones, and seek out service opportunities. Your life will be blessed. Your stress levels will be less. And you will enjoy the Christmas season much more without obsessing about every gift for everyone you have ever met. (And no, I am not putting you down—I am admitting I have done that before!) And hopefully, we will all have a wonderful Christmas Season.
Abby is capable and caring. She is learning more about Autism and parenthood every day. And even though she is the first to admit she makes a lot of mistakes, she is so grateful to be on this journey. She comes from a family with many autistic members. She invites us to join her, as she shares her adventures. She wishes to emphasize that Autism is a difference not a defect. If you or a family member have autism, Abby wants you to know that this isn't a bad thing. And you or your loved one are not sick or broken. Together we will teach the world this new language.