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From Christmas Stress to Holiday Bliss

Despite my best efforts, Christmas has always been a time that brought some stress and anxiety into my life.  I want to get people the perfect presents that cost an amount in my mind that is acceptable (don't be cheap Ryan!), bring only homemade picture perfect food to parties (because everyone is documenting everything these days), make sure my house is always perfectly presentable, host tons of people, be presentable always and never miss a beat.  This year, I gave up the need to be perfect, and found so much freedom.

I did bring some homemade food to parties (because we like to cook), I did try to keep my house clean (for my own sanity), I did buy some gifts for people that they will really love (and I removed the monetary obligations I placed on myself for those gifts), we did host a handful of people (and had really quality time with them) and I embraced wearing sweat pants and cozying up to Christmas movies with my little family instead of running around and even said no to a couple of parties.  I did all the same things, but my spirit in them has changed.  I no longer do these things because I have to and I no longer purchase out of obligation.  I just took the pressure off, and what I found was that I was in control.  I had always been in control, I just let society rule how MY holidays were run.  No longer.

We decided to do the four gifts - "Something you Want, Something you Need, Something to Wear and Something to Read" this year and moving forward.  I am really excited to have this be the way our family approaches Christmas with Reagan as she grows up.  I want to be intentional about teaching her that the holidays are about family and quality time and traditions that we hold dear and celebrating the birth of our Lord and not about what she gets.  I am realizing how important it is to set a precedent with her and even this year, when she obviously has no idea what is going on, to make sure to start off how we want to move forward.  Not just for her, but for us too.  

Bill and I have everything we need.  We want for many things, but we don't need anything.  I want Reagan to know that we have everything we need.  I don't want her to adopt the consumer mentality of America.  I desperately want her to enjoy simplicity.  We have committed to scaling way back and not buying things unless we need them for the foreseeable future, and I have to admit it feels like a weight off my shoulders most days.  Some people think this is extreme, but I am finding it to be necessary to not clouding our lives with things.  We have gradually over the last year gotten rid of bags and bags and car loads of stuff... It's almost embarrassing how much stuff.  I am constantly reminded we have excess when others have nothing.  I want to plug into removing the mentality that I need what is trendy or popular or convenient.  

I heard a great line recently that felt like a new way for me to see things... "Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without."  That is how I am approaching this next season of life.  

As for the holidays, any gifts are bonuses, my value will be found in quiet moments with family and meals shared together remembering what is important and celebrating life together in such a way that we honor the Lord and the example he set.  

Thank you God for the gift of life and for this perspective change.  
I am so grateful for all I have.
Teach me how to be generous to others from my excess.

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