I put my laptop away for a couple days to spend time with my fam. Here are days 24 & 25 of my 31 Lessons Learned in 2016.
Do what you love is a big lesson I learned. We so often put our dreams on the back burner. We think that we’ll get around to them when we have enough time or enough money or even when we retire. This year I learned that putting off what I wanted to be doing was just wasting my own time.
You can earn a living, be successful and be actively living your dreams all at the same time. It really is possible!
Coming up in January I am launching my free course on setting your goals for 2017. This is not like any other goal setting you have done. This course will have you dig way down to find out what you really want in life and allow you to set goals now that set you in the direction of your dreams. Check back here in January for information on how to sign up!
Lesson 25 was more of an experiment. This year our family decided to forgo the CCC – Crass Commercialized Christmas. No mall shopping. No gluttony of gifts. No decorations. No cards. No endless cooking and baking.
We bought one present for a family member who needed an item. We also gave the kids in the family some spending money. Our own kids received checks that they were told not to cash until New Years – and the amount we gave them was less than half of what we would have normally spent on gifts.
My husband and I didn’t even gift each other because we realized that we needed nothing. Instead, we are going to take a mini vacation in the spring.
Why would we do this? Yes, it seems sort of Scroogish, I know. And the truth is that one of the reasons is that we really weren’t feeling the “Christmas Spirit” this year after the election and the hate and the oh so very anti-Christ(like) energy that dominates the news at this time. Not to get theological, but I just don’t feel that the man Jesus – the Rabbi and teacher and prophet – is a recognizable part of the four-month long holiday.
Yes! Four-month holiday! It starts in September! Buy! Buy! Buy! Your children MUST have this technology and this toy. (I mean – that whole bird that hatches thing.. seriously!) And then we also have the toy drives. Don’t get me wrong – giving to children at Christmas is a beautiful thing. But, these toy drives get bigger and the toys get more expensive and meanwhile these kids won’t have food to eat the week after Christmas. And who makes out like bandits? The corporations! And why are we giving our kids these things? Because the media tells us we must! We are bombarded with “You Must Buy This” for four months or longer!
How many of us have bought completely useless junk just to fill a stocking or to make the number of presents equal? Ok, well, I can admit do doing it. Wasted money on crap I have thrown out in the spring!
The decorations. Remember when you used to be able to buy a string of lights and replace the bulbs that burn out every year? Well, technically you still can – but who changes those little bulbs – especially since one broken one cuts off half the string? New strings of lights every year. And more of them because we have to add to the decorations every year. Some of us even change the themes of our trees (yes, most have more than one tree now) each year. I know people who have to move out furniture to fit all the decorations in their house. I am convinced that there are houses that are so lit up that they can be seen from space.
Why? Why do we do this? Sure, it can be beautiful – especially if it snows and the twinkle lights glisten off the white snow. But, it can also be tacky. A manger scene surround by the 6 foot blow up santa and snowman – or a lawn full of mismatched anything related to Christmas. Some of it is ok – but there is a line that gets crossed and it all turns to red and green lawn vomit.
Which brings me to the food! We over eat for an entire month – Thanksgiving to Christmas. 30 days of buffets, desserts, appetizers, rich foods, sweet foods, nutritionally devoid foods. It’s gluttony epitomized. Oh, it’s fun. It’s a lot of fun. Great time with friends and family! It’s the most wonderful time of the year!! We love this time of the year! We love the cookies and cakes and pies and candy and chip dip and stuffed crescent rolls!
But, it’s gluttony. The gifts, the shopping, the food, the decor, the waste – it’s tacky, it’s crass, it’s expensive and it’s gluttonous. And we pay for it after the holiday. We pay with our health, we pay with our finances, we pay with debt guilt, we pay with the let down after it’s all over. You know you are gonna be regretting half the holiday season in about 5 days – just in time to make your resolutions.
Look, I don’t hate Christmas. I always put a lot of pressure on myself to get it right – make everything perfect. The food, the decorations, the gifts. I am so guilty of everything I have described above. I also always have a holiday hangover and claim that I am going to break the cycle of crass commercialism and waste.
This year I was given a big enough motivation to go through with it – that motivation was that I didn’t want to be part of a holiday that was part of the hate in America. So my husband and I decided we were just gonna set this one out. Except for taking the kids to dinner on Christmas Eve at our nearby resort and taking a few photos in front of the decorated fireplace there, we had a Christmas-free Christmas – none of the junk.
And I feel great today. My house isn’t cluttered. I am not stressed. My kids are grateful for their money in lieu of gifts they wouldn’t use. I didn’t fall for any gimmicks or must haves. My husband and I are looking forward to a getaway. We avoided the nastiness of mall shoppers. We still got to see our friends and give and receive holiday wishes. We still got to shine our light of hope and happiness and love. And best of all, we have no hurt feelings or regrets over disappointed expectations.
I think this was the best Christmas of my life!