If you’re a regular reader, you may remember a little post at the beginning of the summer: Moving is the Ultimate Simplifier. You don’t have to click the link. The premise is simple. Basically, I had been “simplifying” our lives and “minimizing” our closets and storage areas for YEARS, but it didn’t truly happen until we moved. Now I have simplified and minimized so thoroughly that, yes, you saw me in this outfit three days ago (but at least the earrings are different).
Now, it’s happening with Christmas.
Every year, I think “if only we could just focus on being together.” I intend to never shop last-minute, to buy fewer things and more meaning, to not put one single roll of wrapping paper on credit. It generally falls apart and runs me over. I shop last-minute, buy things the receiver won’t really care about, and then remember things like wrapping paper and tape long after I’ve blown past the last few dollars in the gift budget.
This year, we live in a small (but perfect for us) rental that has now sold. Our future permanent house is a roofless group of framed-up walls (such exciting walls!), and we will move to a new rental shortly after Christmas and live there until the framed-up walls have paint on them. Having a simple Christmas is not something we have to work for this year. It just is. Our usual decorations are in storage. We don’t want to bring a real tree onto this almost brand-new carpet that other people own. Moving costs a ton, and so will furniture, so we’re planning to hyper down on the cost of gifts – not to mention the quantity (fewer things to move).
Christmas with the Kranks came on television the other day, and I thought – oh man, that’s us this year, except instead of a cruise it’s a new house. I think it looks like that to my poor mother who cannot stand the fact that we may not have a tree at all. (I don’t think this will happen; they make tiny ones…). But it actually feels more like Christmas with the Cratchits. I’ve never felt such perfect happiness this time of year. I love how much room there is to simply enjoy the good parts of the season when you don’t cram it too full with things you need to buy and do and decorate. I love the minimalist movement (to the extent that I’m wiling to participate), because I noticed immediately the way removing clutter makes more room to live. And now I can finally see for real that simplifying Christmas actually makes more room for it.
Now, lest you think I’ve totally changed my religion: One of my favorite Christmas lyrics this year says, “next year all our troubles will be far away”, and I smile when I hear it and fully play out in my mind exactly where I will put my tree in our new home and how I just may take two days to stuff it full of every ornament we own. There are parts of Christmas I will do less simply next year than I am now, and that’s one of them.
But as I stuff the tree with ornaments and look around my still-new house I wanted for so many years before we finally did it, I will remember how sweet and how wonderful it was to basically just have each other, a few small meaningful gifts, and maybe some candles to light the way.
I’ve just discovered one of my favorite quotes in the world is actually a paraphrase of Walt Whitman poetry, but it’s a paraphrase that couldn’t say it better:
We were together. I forget the rest.
I love every single memory that could be stated like that, and this year I think we’ll make them on purpose.