Is a Simpler Season Spiritually Superior?

Keep it simple, they insist.


Focus on the reason for the season, they remind you.


Cut back, cut back, cut back.


Christmas cards take up too much of your time?  Well, don’t send them!


Decorating your home seems like a lot of work?  Don’t bother!


Buying gifts for extended family and friends stressing you out?  Let it go!


Well, okay.  Here are my thoughts on all that.  If you feel better letting a lot of “Christmas traditions” go?  Then you should.  If the budget doesn’t allow for certain purchases this year?  Well, you should adjust accordingly.  Quite frankly, if your heart isn’t in it, I personally don’t think you should necessarily go to church “just because it’s Christmas” either.  Christmas shouldn’t be a to-do list of things you’re “supposed to do”.


But.  (There’s always a “but”, isn’t there?)


If you cherish the tradition of sending out cards and feel kind of sad that friends and family are letting it fall by the wayside?  That’s okay, too.  If you love to “deck the halls” to the fullest and your light display is legendary in your neck of the woods?  Well, I say– good for you!  If you and your siblings truly enjoy choosing little gifts for every niece and nephew– all 42 of them– then there is not one thing wrong with that.


It doesn’t mean you don’t “get it” or that you aren’t celebrating Christ’s birth or that you’re shallow or materialistic or any of the other implications I see carelessly tossed about.  Somehow, we’ve turned this into a kind of reverse justification situation where, rather than explain why I DON’T send Christmas cards, I have to explain why I DO.


Do what makes you happy.  What makes the season special.  If that’s the bare minimum?  More power to you.  If it’s over the top Christmas-y immersion?  That’s great.  And if it varies from year to year as the season of your life changes?  Well, then that only makes sense as far as I’m concerned.


Just as having a perfectly decorated home doesn’t make you a better person, forgoing all the “trappings” of the holiday doesn’t make you spiritually superior either.


And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some Christmas cards to address.  (And I may have to find some new people with whom to exchange them… the “return” cards dwindle with every passing year.  And, yes, I confess that makes me sad.)

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18 comments to Is a Simpler Season Spiritually Superior?

  • Oh you are so right. I grew up where trees and decorations were basically taboo (based on church “rules”), and now thankfully, both my parents and I have a different view on things. The main thing is it’s what’s in your heart. Jesus knows your heart. And even if you have decorations and take the time to send Christmas cards, it doesn’t mean that we’ve all lost the meaning of Christmas.

    • Yes! “The main thing is it’s what’s in your heart.” That is absolutely what matters, Miranda. I don’t think the “trappings” are the issue– it’s all in the attitude and spirit behind it.

  • See? Completely and totally sane and right on the money!! I knew it!

    Life should be about balance and tolerance and rationality and reason and making your own choices and not bowing to others’ judgemental and narrow-minded tunnel vision. You, my dear, are my kind of people!! :)

    I love Christmas, all of it — from the bell-ringers from the Salvation Army to the kids sitting on Santa’s knee, to the stores all shiny and pretty and filled with wonderful things, (some of which I can actually afford!)to the beauty of the Christmas music at Midnight Mass, to the sharing of gifts with people I love. We do it all. But I have absolutely no intention of trying to coerce anyone else into believing what I believe, doing what I do, or loving what I love.

    I just don’t understand why can’t we all be that way.

    • That’s really what it comes down– each of us doing what feels right/ fits our lives. I have no issue whatsoever with simplifying or cutting out things are overwhelming and distracting from the true meaning of Christmas. I just don’t see any problem with embracing those traditions either. :)

  • I tell you those non-card sending scrooges are totally missing out! :)

  • Laraba Kendig

    I think the real issue is whether all the Christmas and holiday “extras” are driving you up the wall and onto the ceiling. Many people feel like they are obligated to buy for everyone, send Christmas cards to everyone, etc. No, we aren’t OBLIGATED. We should do what we feel we should, what we can manage, what we enjoy!

    I’m one who has cut WAY back. I’ve had 3 children born within a week of Christmas (not triplets — 3 separate births), one born at Thanksgiving, and have been battling morning sickness at Christmas 4 times. The year our first was born (on Dec. 21st), I lowered my Christmas obligations considerably and was much happier. So I do try to keep it simple becuase more stresses me out. But it totally depends on temperament and personality and strength and energy!

    And I love Christmas cards but no, we don’t send them out anymore. Well, I do to some older relatives who don’t do email. Most people just get a mass email with a family newsletter. Some may think that really tacky but I love getting them from others so I hope some people like them!

    Merry Christmas!

  • Katie

    Get out of my head JessieLeigh, lol! I was just thinking about this! I am all about keeping Christmas simple, but sometimes I get weary of feeling preached at to keep Christmas ultra simple and if I don’t then I am losing the meaning of the season. Sometimes it’s fun to partake in some of the festive aspects of the Christmas season and it’s nice to do it without feeling the need to explain myself.

  • You know, I have really struggled with this issue this year, and I appreciate your take on it. Thank you for being brave enough to say it. :)

  • Girl, thank you for this post. I, like Mary, have struggled with this issue this year. I have felt inferior to all those who are “cutting back” and doing things more simply. I’m doing things a bit more simply, but you know me…I love this time of year and all the things that go with it. Thank you again for this post!!!!

  • Thanks for this post! We’ve been cutting back this year – we didn’t even get a tree! We wanted to allocate our dollars elsewhere and it does make it simplier. Besides, our families will have trees when we go celebrate Christmas.
    We are having a birthday party for Jesus today with all the kids in our neighborhood, so I’m really excited about that!

  • Thereesa

    All I can say is Amen( translated: So Be It)! and Thank you, Myra. Wishing you the Merriest of Christmas’ and a year full of God’s Blessings.

  • [...] Deck the halls to the fullest or have a simpler season? [...]

  • [...] said before, though, that we must also be careful about making it seem that, in simplifying, we become spiritually spiritual. That’s also not true. Having a thousand lights strung across the front of your home [...]

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