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The older I get the more I believe that SIMPLE is a great rule. I’ve experienced its power in family life, hospitality, ministry, and teaching. Simple allows me to focus on what’s really important.

Several years ago I wrote this in a post on a blog that I’ve discontinued “Confessions of a Christian Perfectionist:”

“Even as a little girl I obsessed over our Christmas decorations. I clearly remember my annual annoyance at my sister’s work on the tree. I wanted the silver icicles perfectly hung, but she basically threw them on the branches.  Because my efforts to force her to do it my way failed, I resorted to rehanging them myself when everyone was out of the room.

“That began years of desiring everything perfect during the holidays—decorations, food, gifts, house, and family. Although I wanted to have guests over, I refused to do so unless all was exactly as it should be. And who determined what that was? What I saw at the stores gave me a false perception of what “everyone else” had. Then, there were the Christmas parties we attended (usually church-related), which were held in the largest homes so there would be room for all. Although I knew such showplaces weren’t really representative, they were the standard I experienced. The comparison made me reluctant to invite anyone over at all.”

So how am I doing making Christmas simple? Better.

I no longer obsess over my decorations but mostly use what I have, only allowing a short time period for decorating so I’m not drained. Although we love the presence a lighted tree, we’ve eliminated it the last couple of years now that we’re of town on Christmas Day. If we begin to miss it too much, we’ll find a cheap, small tree with few or no ornaments.

I now buy simpler and fewer gifts. When invited to gatherings that require bringing a gift for someone who doesn’t need anything and will likely throw it out, I prefer to pass, as I did this week, or at least spend less than is suggested. Rather than add to our grandchildren’s piles of rarely used toys, we buy a few other things and put the difference in their college funds.

I now really enjoy hosting gatherings because I keep them basic. I fight back the sense that I’m competing with friends who have Christmas stuff in very room or those who pay experts to decorate for them. And we cook dishes that can be made ahead, or even purchased. The result–no last minute panics.

With God’s help I’m spending more time focused on the real reason for this season with extra time with God. As 2018 ends my reading once again includes completing the Bible as well as Fleming Rutledge’s book Advent.

I still struggle with a deep urge to make everything perfect so I look good, but God keeps reminding me of what’s important– investing time in friends and family and giving more to those who need it.

Simplifying Christmas ends up making it more special than ever!

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