Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Joyful (but downsized) Christmas in Retirement

I have a confession to make.  This year is the first year that I have downsized Christmas in any meaningful way (other than the kids are grown now, type of downsizing)-and I believe I am going to love it.

 Don't get me wrong! I adore Christmas.  My tree still went up the day after Thanksgiving. Stockings are hung by the chimney with care.  I have a fifty song Christmas play list on my laptop that I downloaded from iTunes (still haven't jumped over to Pandora).  Christmas day itself will be traditional, with gifts and prime rib and Yorkshire pudding.  Even so, I've ended up with a  much more simple sized Christmas-by choice.  It came upon me slowly, but the end result has been very satisfying so far.

The first change in my Christmas gifting routing came about when my Dallas contingent decided that this year names would be drawn (instead of the traditional sharing of gifts from lists by fourteen adults). While I love sharing gifts, twenty to fifty dollar gifts for fourteen people add up-and even with lists, it was difficult to buy for some people. And that was half my family.  This year, each family shares gifts within the smaller unit (my kids and I for example) and one family gift is given, by a secret Santa.

The second way that my Christmas was downsized was simply by moving. On this side of the family, gifts are shared by all. The gifts are smaller and often more tokens however. Small food gifts, orchid clippings and the like become the gifts of choice.

Last but not least was the decision by my small family group to simple size Christmas quite a bit, and for many more reasons than financial ones (although certainly being financially sensible is important). For one thing, we've found that we enjoy giving little gifts throughout the year as needed rather than saving all our gifting just for holidays and birthdays. Both my kids are in school full time, one also working full time and the other searching for work of any kind. Although my financial situation is good, I would prefer to have money for equally important things such as traveling (including to my daughter and significant other), helping my son as needed throughout the college year and the like. Without grandchildren, the need for the full contingent of wrapped gifts in the morning is just not there.

The end result? Christmas is much more relaxing, and just as enjoyable, all around. My kids and I are exchanging one or two Christmas gifts, but filling stockings to the fullest. The house is full of the feeling of Christmas-from the tree to the Christmas village to the multiple nativity sets to that Christmas music. We even have a a few lights outside.  This weekend I went to a miniature version of a traditional German Christmas market. I plan to visit the lights at the local botanical gardens, and take in a free concert or two and maybe a craft fair in the mix.  Christmas eve will be a dinner of homemade appetizers and eggnog (ignoring nutrition for one night), Church and then those stockings.

As for Christmas day,  as has been done for twenty some years, we'll have sausage, scrambled eggs, Christmas cookies and juice, and then a relaxing day with small gifts.  Later in the day, I'll pack up cookies and goodies and drive over to my brother's house, where I'll still have that prime rib and fixing's.  All in all a lovely, downsized holiday that includes all the traditions.

Meanwhile, I have that list of twenty kinds of cookies ready to go. I'm finishing an Ohio State quilt so that it can be shipped Wednesday morning first thing. I've purchased some winter necessities for my son and daughter. My gifts still to be made? Those homemade ggourmet crackers (walnut Parmesan and chili cornbread), gourmet sauces and coffee themed coasters! I may add some chocolate covered coffee beans.

Next year, I plan to spend Christmas in Dallas, with a visit to Galveston first, and perhaps a trip to New Orleans immediately after. New traditions are always good, as long as some of the older ones stay with us as well!


11 comments:

  1. It sounds perfect, Barb! My goal is to slowly downsize Christmas as well, but boy is it ever hard!! Slow & steady wins the race right? ;)

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  2. I want to downsize for Christmas, but B will give no quarter. She still wants to do it up big. I guess I don't mind; I'll gain a few pounds; but the dog likes her Christmas collar.

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    1. Oh ill certainly gain a few pounds as well, from those Christmas cookies if nothing else. I am just one of those folks who cannot "do it all"

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  3. Sounds absolutely lovely Barb. A very Merry Christmas to you and your family.

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  4. I have downsized a bit over the past few years. Gone are the mountains of gifts under the tree, the tins and packages of baked goods are slowly shrinking as well.

    Christmas is taken at a slower pace and really enjoyed with family surrounding me.

    God bless.

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  5. Barb,

    Now that our daughter is an adult, there are fewer gifts under the tree, but the price tag has not downsized much, if any. My husband and I have finally stopped trying to surprise each other and now just buy what we want and wrap it up - mostly joint gifts like airline tickets, theater tickets, Groupons, etc. It is easier than making all those returns after Christmas. We still bake lots of cookies, prepare the meal on Christmas Eve and two on Christmas day, but again, it's just the four of us when you add in my Mother-in-law. We just finished hosting my mom and brother for three days and will have company again tomorrow night. I really do love it all and will continue to celebrate Christmas this way for as long as I am able. Church services, scouting neighborhoods for great light displays, even walking through the mall....it's all good.

    Merry Christmas

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    1. It sounds like you are doing what is best for you. I still enjoy the light displays and the music and church, as well. I dont go to t he mall, but I dont do that at any time of year, I shop in small local stores-so not really a Christmas issue!! Off to bake!

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  6. We are staying home again this year, which has downsized my shopping and stress considerably. ;) We're also doing a smaller tree (since the 7-footer is just too much of a temptation to our cats), and that actually helps, too. BTW ... check out Amazon for free Christmas music samplers ...

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    1. We left our dead tree in Texas and I got one that is both shorter and narrower ths year and it works just fine ad still holds the ornaments.!

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  7. Merry Christmas, Barb. I'm a little pagan around the Christmas celebration. I celebrate the coming of the light. We all need a party in the dark of this cold winter. Tomorrow we're lighting an outside fire to celebrate the winter solstice.

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