>Seasonal Simplicities

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With less than ten shopping days until Christmas, I feel like I’ve steered off the road to the joyous and gleeful holiday season, to a roadside ditch. I feel like I might need a tow truck to get me back on the road.

I particularly enjoy the holidays because I am blessed to spend time with family and friends. You know, quality time without all of the routine rush and interruptions. During our holiday gatherings, we eat, play games, sit around chatting, eat some more, recall loved ones who are no longer with us, eat some more, and talk about whatever else comes to mind. I know, I said “eat” like three times, but that’s what we really do… eat. Over the years, we’ve had a ball with our enormous but fun gift exchange. I enjoy the tactic of trying to surprise each person on my list with a special and meaningful gift. It’s my way of saying thanks for being a part of my life.

So here I am with a few days left to shop and, with a few exceptions, I have yet to start!  Typically, I enjoy the last minute (a week before Christmas) shopping rush. The bargains are outrageous and send me into a tizzy! I usually do the, one for me, one for them shopping method. However, this season, every time I pick up a paper to look for bargains, I am drawn to read an article about layoffs or some other sad or heartbreaking economic news. Honestly, I’m filled with mixed emotions. Gratitude! For today I am blessed with good health, a healthy family, employment, a roof over my head, food on the table, and the ability to help others. Sadness! For those who are struggling in so many ways. I know. There have and will always be struggles. I just feel as though I’m seeing more of the struggles. Is it because I’m getting old(er)? Is it because I’m viewing the world differently? I keep asking myself what’s the deal? Is it because those being affected are closer to me? I don’t know- I just know what I see and what I feel. And yes. I know that I cannot help everyone; to try and do that would put my own well-being in jeopardy.

For this reason, I firmly believe that those who are in the position to help others should do so. Help doesn’t necessarily mean giving up money; time is just as valuable. You could offer to baby sit, pick up an item or two from the grocery store, donate clothes, read to a child or elder, serve food at a shelter, or whatever else you decide you can give. The idea is to just do something for someone other than you and- Continue to do so long after the holiday season have passed.

As a result of the economic madness and turmoil, I’ve done a little self-reflection. It’s been downright freakish and eye opening. What I have versus what I need versus what I want. Whoa!! I see some un-necessaries! I know- that may not be a real word, but I like the way it sounds. For most of us, we gain comfort from certain personal luxuries. We work hard and believe that we earned whatever pleasure we chose to indulge in. While our guilty pleasures vary from person to person, the feeling is of the same. Delight!

Anyway for 2011, I’ve committed to re-evaluate and simplify my life. No, I’m not going to be extreme and try to grow all of my herbs, vegetables, and other produce in my backyard. As much as I’d like to do that, it won’t work for me right now. I will be more practical with my time and my money. I have committed to evaluate what is really important to me and to my family. To give unused items, that sit boxed and collect dust to others in need and not to replace the “stuff” with new “stuff” that’s just going to collect more dust or require more storage space.

I was curious to know if there was any buzz going on in cyberspace about simplifying life or returning to a simpler lifestyle, so I searched “back-to-basics living,” on several search engines. I didn’t find any new or startling information. However, I did find a few blogs, websites, and books on the topics. Perhaps I am misinformed and just didn’t recognize that a larger part of the population is already living a simpler lifestyle; I don’t know for certain.

What I do know is that with the remaining days leading to the holiday, I need to spiritually reconnect and find a solid balance between enjoying the season and doing what I can to help someone in need. 
Happy Holidays!

Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity.
To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.
— Oren Arnold

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