Simply Christmas

My community had been shut down for days.  Freezing rain, sleet, and then eight inches of snow layered one on top of the other had resulted in school closings, events cancelled, and a forced time out for most of us.

Many were on social media bemoaning missed events and complaining about impassable roads, and there was a virtual epidemic of cabin fever.

But as for me, I secretly (err…not so secretly now) enjoyed every minute.  There’s a direct correlation between a full calendar and a lack of peace.  Don’t get me wrong – I love all the activities and hustles and bustles of the season.  Many of the events on my calendar were ones I helped plan or create. But a time out from life?  That’s a real gift.  This go-girl enjoyed the time to stop.

Those days at home had been simple and somehow satisfying. They got me thinking about intentionally, deliberately, and thoughtfully making the Christmas season a bit more … simple.  Making less be more.

So, in honor of our snowy days that had made for simple days, here’s my
Simply Christmas list:

  1.  Turn off the TV.  Turn out the house lights.  Sit in front of your Christmas tree and savor the beauty and the magic of the Christmas lights, the sparkly ornaments, the memories. Ponder and worship the one born in a stable to bring peace to the world.
  2. Julie Andrews sang about “brown paper packages tied up with string.” Buy a roll of contractor paper from Lowes and do the same.  I’m fairly certain it’s less expensive than Christmas paper.  The simple paper will be the perfect backdrop for some creative bows and ribbons.
  3. Purchase nine bags of nine different beans and make your own Nine-Bean Soup Mix.  As you mix the beans in a big bowl and measure two cups into individual storage bags, pray for the neighbors, Sunday School teachers, and friends who will receive these (with a recipe for making the soup.  Roll it up like a scroll and tie it with string.)  Consumable gifts are perfectly simple – they never need dusted and who doesn’t love soup for a winter supper? (Email me, if you would like my recipe!)
  4. Finish your Christmas shopping on line.  It’s the simple way to shop with a cup of coffee, Christmas music of your choosing, and no one ever landed in a ditch while cruising on line.
  5. If your family has a favorite Christmas side dish (ours is sweet potato casserole), make it now and freeze it.  Doing a little bit of cooking ahead will greatly simplify meal preparation when all the family is home.
  6. Take photos of your Christmas decorations with your camera or phone.  Store in a folder marked, “Christmas.”  It will make it much simpler to decorate next year – you won’t have to walk around holding that snowman and asking, “Now where do you hang out for Christmas?”
  7. Purge the stuff.  The ornaments, decorations, and Christmas stuff that isn’t being used probably won’t be used. Before hauling it back up to the attic to be brought back again next year….just give it away.  Someone else might enjoy it.
  8. Remind the kids that Jesus received three gifts.  Send them to their rooms to find three things to give away.
  9. Make a pan of lasagna and put in the freezer.  (Did you know you don’t need to cook the noodles?  The sauce will soften them up as they bake.) Put it in on time bake to be ready when you arrive home from Christmas Eve service.  It will clear the palate for the huge meal of ham, turkey, potatoes, and vegetable casseroles on Christmas Day. Best of all, Christmas Eve dinner is done ahead – -simple and delicious!
  10. Read Luke 2.  Be sure to use the King James Version. Ponder. Pray. Reflect that the first Christmas, though simple in some ways, was beautifully, mysteriously, breathtakingly complex in others. God with us.  Emmanuel. Jesus came.  All because of love.  Simply love.  And that…is the simple truth.


       Laura Macfarlan