My friend Rachel is a minimalist.
Every time I read one of her posts, I'm inspired to do the same.
(Let's just pretend like my junky bathroom closet doesn't exist. And let's forget about the slew of old wrapping paper, gigantic travel bags, loner socks, and need-to-be-retired work boots that are shoved under our bed. Oh, and let's also not open up my pantry. Ever. Ok?)
Though, in all fairness, what I love about Rachel's approach is that it's not about sitting on pillows in your living room, ridding yourself of any convenience, or only owning three shirts. Rather, it's about finding that beautiful balance between possessions… and obligations… and living.
The possessions can easily overwhelm the living. As can the obligations. And all too easily, if we're not careful.
I've been thinking about Rachel often – and not just because I baaaaadly need to organize my office closet space. But rather, as the time of year rolls around, and the ‘things' start to roll in with it (as they inevitably do), it's easy to get bogged down in it all. It's a time of excess.
Part of that excess (the celebration, the feasting, the parties, the merriment) is very much in line with what I believe to be true about this Advent season as a Christian. Christmas is a time for GREAT celebration! And how do we celebrate? We feast! We throw parties! We eat delicious food! We give each other gifts! This celebration is a great way to celebrate the birth of our Savior! And I'm all for it.
That being said, finding that beautiful balance between celebration and cray-cray is challenging. As I found myself wandering a local store the other morning, picking out a few goodies for the kids, I began to stress about (insert practically anything holiday related here).
Did I remember to send out a Christmas card to our friends in Missouri?
Do I have all the ingredients I need to make those holiday cookies?
Would the kids enjoy their presents? Would they be ‘enough'?
…and this is where the minimalist in me kicked in. The entire mess of this celebration needed some regulation. Thankfully, a few years back, Stuart and I decided to adhere to a wonderful gift-giving ‘standard' for our family that makes it easy and fair. 4 presents each. Always.
1. Something you want
2. Something you need
3. Something to wear
4. Something to read
This guide has been wonderful for us, as we're wanting to celebrate this joyous season with our children while making sure the focus is on celebrating the birth of Christ. Taking a cue from one of Rachel's gift-giving posts, we opted for stockings filled with treats this year instead of little toys.
What can I say? Good food speaks to my heart.
We filled them with some of these… a few of these… and a box of these. Treats are the ultimate celebration in our house because they're rare. And I love that they'll get enjoyed and savored instead of piled up in the toy box.
Their ‘something you want' gift was a combined gift this year – a wooden ‘workshop' stand that is high-quality and should last for years to come. I love that this toy will give them something to create with – together.
Along the same minimalist line comes our Christmas tree – decorated with second-hand ornaments, a birds nest from my parents willow tree, and moss, bark, and branches we collected from the forest. It's topped with a paper star that Georgia colored red. It's nothing fancy. But it's perfect.
We're making one variety of Christmas cookie this year – sugar. Organic, unbleached white flour, whole cane sugar, and butter from Sally Belle. They'll be smothered in homemade organic frosting and organic sprinkles – the only Christmas treat we'll make this year.
Even the menu, while delicious, will be simple.
These are moments for savoring – for sharing – for enjoying. If I'm running around like a madwoman grabbing toys off shelves, arguing in line at the grocery store, and so burnt out from all the commitments by the time I get to Christmas morning, what good is that?
That was a rhetorical question.
I'm eager to carry this minimalist perspective with me into the New Year. To focus my energy on a few things that I love so desperately – my family (naturally), my farm (of course), the blog (my baby!), my newest cookbook (should be out in the fall!), and my essential oil business (which has been so much more successful than I could have imagined!). I want to do them well. To do them with passion, organization, and efficiency. I want to invest in them, savor them, and enjoy my work in them!
There will inevitably be messy moments. At Christmas time. At every time. But I'm thankful to feel so at peace with our small, farmstead Christmas. To be thankful for the blessings of each day rather than the gigantic presents under the Christmas tree. And to be focusing on the birth of our Savior, our King, our Messiah, rather than the hottest toy, the gigantic dinner menu, or the 72 social obligations that popped up this month.
To take a step back.
To intentionally simplify this hectic life.
There is great peace there. And that's where I want to be.