Minimalism and the Season of Excess

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This year seems to be literally flying by and it got me to thinking today that the holidays are upon us first with Thanksgiving then with Christmas and New Year’s.  I no longer think of this time of year as the holidays – I think of it as the season of excess and literally cringe from the commercials that are already on TV trumpeting the “buying” season.  So how does one that chooses minimalism survive sanely at this time of year? It’s all about the choices we make.

Just in the past few days I’ve seen commercials – one in particular with a guy sitting in his chair and his wife comes through the door loaded down with bags from the big store that begins with a W excited that her Christmas shopping was complete.  Hello?  It’s the 2nd week in November.  Then another large store announced that it is opening it’s doors for Black Friday on Thursday afternoon at 4 or 5.  First off, it’s black FRIDAY not black Thanksgiving day.  The stores are trying anything they can to get customers buying as early as possible.  This includes making their employees work on one of the holidays that is known for being grateful and thankful for what you have in your life and to spend it with family and friends.  Thanksgiving isn’t meant to be thankful you can go shop for crap a day earlier.

I’ve noticed lately on Facebook, parents are posting pics of their kids going through the sales catalogs circling everything they want Santa to bring to them. What does this teach our kids?  This teaches our kids to associate the holidays with things rather than with people.  Luckily I was raised at a time that we didn’t automatically get everything we asked for.  It made us deliberate and choose what was most important.  Our holidays were always a celebration of family getting together and that is what we still try to do today – focus on a wonderful meal shared as a family.

So how do we as minimalists get through this crazy time of year?  For me, it’s to remember that the holiday season is meant to be spent with family and friends not to be consumed with buying the latest doodad that will quickly be out of favor and replaced by the next doodad.   I automatically take a step back and regroup rather than get caught up with the consumerism.  I continue with my daily routines to be sure I include my contemplation and exercise times.  These two things may sound simple but they are the two things that keep me sane all year round.  In addition to keeping to my daily routines, I focus on family and community.  I participate in local fundraising events and make time to get in touch with family and friends that are out of state.

If you find yourself getting caught up in this vicious cycle, stop, take a deep breath and focus on what you want the holiday season to mean to you and your family.  Yes your kids may ask for every item in the toy catalog but choose to use that as a learning experience and talk to them about the many families that are lucky to have food on their tables.  Take the kids with you to local events at the hospitals, nursing homes or other place and show them that giving back is the true meaning of the season.  Not being loaded down with a bunch of crap that will quickly be discarded.






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