A Simple Christmas By Michael Turman

How to have a simple Christmas

As we head into December and approach Christmas this year, I get a feeling in the pit of my stomach. I am not looking forward to this event. It’s not that I don’t like Christmas. The fact is I cannot stand the barrage of advertising and media-sponsored greed that occurs every December.

Every year, around this time, TV and radio ads begin to remind us that X-Mas is just around the corner, and that we should start buying things for the people that we love. The malls become decorated with excessive and gaudy garlands, streamers, and various other essentially meaningless symbols.

And to what purpose? It is all done in the name of blatant consumerism.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that Christmas is all bad. I have had some great Christmases with my family before, and no doubt I’ll have a good one again this year. However, I’m not expecting to enjoy the buildup by the greater merchandising community leading up to this once significant holiday.

I don’t know a lot about how other faiths perceive and teach about Christmas. Within the Mennonite Church, I have always been taught that Christmas is a time to think about the gifts that God has given us, both in our lives and through the gift of the baby Jesus. It is a time of sharing that should be spent with family and friends, and must also consider the needs of others in our community. It’s pretty simple, really.

That is what I believe Christmas needs most these days, simplicity. Our culture tells us that we need to make it as complex as possible, by buying the "perfect gift" for everyone we care about. This either means the most expensive, or the trendiest gift possible (often both). The only reason why Christmas is such a busy time for everyone is because we’re all trying to get our shopping done on time.

Imagine this: instead of anxious gift buying and worrying about whether Aunt Mary and Uncle Tom will like the Celine Dion box set that you bought them, why not try to use your own talents to make them something that is meaningful for both you and them? Whether your talents are woodworking, arts and crafts, songwriting, or even creative writing, you can create something from the heart. I guarantee you that if you put energy into it, it will be a gift they will remember.

Instead of spending hours in the mall worried about the credit left in your account, why not spend it at home working on something that you love doing? If there are a lot of people to consider, make something similar for everyone, but that has a small personal touch on each one. If you can’t think of any skills that you can use to do that, then find a gift to give from what you own. An important personal gift, such as a photo album filled with family pictures, or a favourite and well-read book is much more simple and significant than a bright shower set from the Body Shop or a power tool.

These ideas might seem unorthodox to you, and they will probably be difficult in some way to put into action. I know that it would be difficult for me to ask for something simple along these lines instead of some of the great presents I could be getting.

That’s how life is, full of hard decisions. Choosing simplicity, although difficult choice to make, is choosing a simple Christmas.

It’s up to you.

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