Surviving Christmas-Mania…

I’d been dreading the past two weeks for most of the latter part of the year because of how much I would have to do…last week, it was the five final assignments for the semester plus ITC09.  This week, it was the myriad of holiday events that I had scheduled.  On my calendar, I had:  Tuesday night:  Work ornament exchange party, Wednesday night:  ITC09 wrap party, Thursday:  Office gift exchange, Friday night:  Office Christmas party.  Two of these things were going to require that I buy something and one would require me to cook something.  Here’s what I did to pare down:

  • I bowed out of the Ornament Exchange Tuesday night; that made THREE work events that week, and while I love my coworkers, I don’t really relish spending two nights out with the same people with whom I spend the bulk of my waking life.  Bowing out of that cut out both one event and one gift to buy!
  • Rather than making a homemade dish for Thursday, I bought a tub of hummus and some fancy chips on sale at the Teeter.  Time spent slaving in the kitchen cut from the calendar.
  • I got a gift on clearance for the exchange Thursday while we were killing time before the wrap party on Wednesday night….getting something done during dead time, another calendar clearer!

So, just a few small moves reduced my schedule to something more bearable and helped a ton with my stress level. Finding yourself stressed to the max this holiday season?  Take a hard look at your calendar.  Write down your commitments and also write down the “costs” of those commitments (cooking something, buying something, driving two hours to get there, etc).  After that, first look for events that you may be able to cut out entirely.  Three work events in one week?  A little excessive.  Bow out of one.  Then, look for ways that you can streamline the events that you choose to keep.  Let the desire to make things from scratch go a little this year.  You’ll be thankful and much less frazzled.

Thursday was our Office gift Exchange; check out the spread!

It was great food and a great time; our gift exchange even went smoothly without anyone getting violent;).

Last night was our nice Christmas party…our boss had it at his house and it was catered in.  I wish I could have taken pictures because everything was so beautiful.  After a great dinner and a few rounds of Rock Band, we were all thoroughly worn out and left around 10:15.

This morning, we met Mom and Dad for breakfast before the dress rehearsal for their musical.  Joey is sick, so he’s piled up in the recliner under a blanket:

The strange tumor on his torso is Shelli.

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A Minimalist Christmas…or an Attempt, at Least

A vintage Kins-shot to start the post; I found lots of old pics on our external hard drive, so I saved some to include in posts for you.  This one was particularly cute, I think…Shelli was very interested in the camera.  you can also see her little shaved belly; they spayed her at six weeks; sometimes they do that to help them be more adoptable.  It helped us a lot because we couldn’t have afforded the spay fee.

I don’t feel like talking about food today.  Suffice it to say that I had too much of it yesterday and the day before and that I’m pissed about that and plan to eat extremely cleanly for the next week at least.  Also suffice it to say that I’ve learned a very important lesson about being a vegetarian at omnivore family gatherings:  I will need to bring a very good veggie dish to every one I go to.  Green beans?  Cooked in beef stock.  Turnip greens?  Same thing.  My options?  Potatoes, potatoes, potatoes.  I’m sick of them.  Anyway, on to other things.

One of the most fundamental aspects of voluntary simplicity is the idea of “minimalism,” or reducing one’s possessions down to what is absolutely necessary and/or important.  Possessions should reflect one’s values, and those values should not include amassing as much “stuff” as possible.  One of the first steps, I daresay, into a more simple life is taking inventory of one’s possessions and paring them down to the important stuff.

We’ve done this a few times; we’ve had two or three yard sales and have made decent money, but we’re still really bad about keeping stuff because “we might need it later.”  I’m over that.  We have an office that we can’t even get into, and the dresser in the bedroom is so covered with junk that I have to stand on tiptoes to put my hair in a ponytail in the morning.  Our mission for the next few weeks is going to be to get those rooms cleared out.

A truly minimalist Christmas is impossible for me; I’m stuck in the corporate world, and we have THREE, yes, you heard me right, THREE holiday “events” that we have to participate in.  And, as much as I like the people I work with, the amount of time/energy/money that we have to spend on those events is incredibly draining.  Then, our church puts on a musical every year, with six performances (and a dress rehersal) that ends up taking up an entire week of our lives, and then we need to fit in a Sunday School fellowship…etc, and the list goes on.  For me, this year, our commitments will not allow for minimalism (although watch out, because that very well may change next year), but at least I can take some steps now to help reduce the clutter and stress of the holiday season.  Here’s what I’m doing:

  1. cleaning off the dresser
  2. getting rid of articles/paperwork that I don’t need anymore
  3. putting away/organizing my shoes
  4. getting the bedroom closet so that we can store clothes in there again.
  5. starting on the office

Now, anyone can “clean.”  The point of the minimalist-driven clutter project is to take a very hard look at EVERY item and asking oneself whether or not it’s really that important.  Have you used it in the last three months?  four months?  If not, then you probably want to sell it, donate it, or chuck it if you can’t do anything else.  Don’t be overly sentimental; just let it go.

If you need help mustering up the courage to start, check out Far Beyond the Stars.  This guy is extremely serious about the minimalist lifestyle, to the extreme.  While the lengths to which he goes may not be for everyone, his philosphy is something that can really be taken to heart, and his tips are worthwhile, regardless of what level you’re comfortable taking them to.

Enjoy your Saturday!