Sunday, December 21, 2008

COAL OR CANDY? You decide ;-)

At the risk of finding coal in my stocking and damaging my Mrs. Nice Girl image, (ha!) I present the following holiday editorial:

The pressure is on! Four days and counting; are you ready? Are all the presents wrapped, the stockings hung and all the special holiday traditions waiting in the wings for the big day or checked off the list? So many people have rituals and customs that MUST be done or they believe the holiday will not happen in their world. There are thousands of these; some “always” watch old movies every year like “It’s a wonderful life” or “White Christmas.” Others “always” cook certain foods for Christmas Eve or Christmas morning and without that particular food … there will be no holiday! The phrase “we always do it this way” is their mantra each year and unless each entry on the list is accomplished like clockwork, they feel like they haven’t celebrated the holiday correctly. Nothing is allowed to interfere without dire consequences. Families with young children are literally forced to participate by the media, the church as well as family and friends and kids give their parents wish lists a yard long without a thought to the cost. Well, I’m here to tell you folks, speaking from personal experience the holiday season will go off as scheduled … even without going into debt or the carved in stone individual ceremonies.

When we sold everything we owned except the absolute necessities and moved into a 34 foot motorhome, one spare room in our big house, the one full of lights and holiday decorations was the first to go. Since then, for four years we have not decorated in anyway—not so much as a piece of tinsel—and guess what? The festivities came and went without our participation. This year, for the first time we have a small fiber optic lighted tree that folds up and fits in a small box and that is welcome and enjoyed. If and when we feel like getting any more of a Christmas “fix” we take a drive around town and look at all the decorated homes and businesses and in our RV Park here in Yuma, most of the snowbirds go all out! It looks like a Xmas decorator has gone mad around here.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not a holiday naysayer, just the opposite is true. I would just like to see the American public that celebrates this holiday making an effort to go back to basics; to reduce and minimize rather that go bigger and better than last year. Without conscious effort, this happened to us when we retired. Our modest fixed income dictated the fact that we do not purchase gifts except for the grandchildren and great grandchildren that are not emancipated. It was amazing that the lack of stress was palpable from day one of retirement. Even though I am not a religious person, I still enjoy hearing Christmas carols and I adore seeing a beautifully decorated tree (artificial or real) but knowing I am no longer required to participate except in exactly the ways I choose has lifted a huge weight of responsibility from my shoulders. And, without fanfare, it also seems to have released our immediate family from traditional efforts as they have followed suit in only doing the things they want to do for the holidays. We continue to get a good deal of pleasure from receiving cards and holiday letters sent by our loved ones. Furthermore for four years we have been colorfully amused by all the traditionalists in the world and I thank them for that. However, I will continue my low key notice of the holiday and use my yearly newsletter as acknowledgment of the celebration and call it good.

Words of Wisdom:
"To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—this is to have succeeded." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Until next time ...


  1. Hey Joy & Phil... I don't know how I missed your other post... But I have read them now... you know Christmas is whatever you wish it to be.... I feel lost without my Christmas decor and traditions.... but I sure understand where you’re coming from... That's ok to do if it works for you... It doesn't mean you don't love the holiday season... Have a great day


  2. I sure didn't decorate this year like I usually do, since hubby and I are spending it with the kids in Las Vegas. I enjoy seeing everyone else's decorations though. I guess it sounds awful but I am always glad when Christmas is over and I can get back to normal. lol.
    We had a 32 ft PaceArrow motorhome and a 35 ft one after that. Now we have a 5th wheel trailer. I think I like the motorhomes better though.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog.
    Merry Christmas,

  3. Joy, we agree with you partly (the part about reducing and getting back to basics) but we disagree with you about keeping tradition.

    We've lived in this motorhome for over six years, have never failed to have eggnog and our favorite Christmas breakfast, tortiere. We always have a creche (it's tiny, but it's there). We have never failed to go to Midnight Mass (even in parishes that held Midnight Mass at 10:00pm), have had the same fold up fiber optic tree like you have now every year.

    We don't give presents to each other, but we send daughters and grandchildren gift cards.

    Everything else has been reduced (although now we have a casita, we decorate that a bit), we play Christmas music on our stereo. But as you say, the load is lifted even while we hold on to a few basic traditions.

    Everyone is entitled to do it their own way, and we appreciate that you were bold enough to make your statement! Have fun, see the lights around Yuma, and have a wonderful Christmas.

    Jerry and Suzy

  4. Hi Joy, Thanks so much for commenting. I'm having fun so far, I'm not the writer Mom and Sharon are, but It's a really fun way to all stay connected. Please re-follow mom's blog, I puttered with it and who knows what I did. :-) ooops. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas day. It's snowing like crazy here again! Thanks Nikki.

  5. Merry Christmas! first time visiting your journal; I totally agree with what you wrote; we simplified Christmas this year and I tell you I am so enjoying the less stress and actually didn't use my credit card once this season :)