How to S-T-O-P Christmas - O

So, in our quest not to be Grinch-like, we are striving to S-Simplify and T-have a thankful heart.  What is "o" for?

Opt out.

Not out of Christmas, mind you, but out of anything that doesn't add value in some way to the season. Value of time or meaning or relationship.

That includes some "good stuff".

With "simplify", we reduced some things that didn't have to be elaborate.  Food, decorations, gifts, and the like.

Now, we are going to opt out - as in eliminate, not participate, decline - a lot!  I warn you, some choices will be painful.  Others will be pure delight and you'll wonder why you never crossed them off your inclusive list before!  But some things that you opt out of will require some courage.  And a commitment to your overall goal - a blessed season.  And you may need some accountability to help you stick to your choice.

A few years ago, I decided to not to Christmas cards.  And I thought I'd die.  I wanted to send out cards to let folks know I wasn't sending out cards just so they wouldn't think I'd forgotten them.  Or worse.  But the time required to get us together for a picture, order cards, and address envelopes before the season ended --- not to mention the expense -- was better allocated elsewhere.  And guess what - in spite of my angst, the sun still rose and Christmas still came...and no friends de-friended me (at least not on account of my lack of Christmas cards, anyway!) 

One year I kept my kids out of the humongous and wildly popular church Christmas program (the one that required weekly practices from Labor Day through mid-December....whew)  That choice was really tough.  But it wound up being an absolutely lovely season with much less frenzy and haste and we got to do some things that we hadn't had time to do before.  Christmas lights at Lake Lanier.  Cookie decorating parties (that lasted more than 30 minutes because that was all the time we previously had!) Stay up late and watch Christmas movies and drink hot chocolate.  Visit retirement homes and love on some lonely folks.  On and on....and I'll bet if you ask my kids about missing that performance, they don't even remember........

I remember when we lived in North Carolina away from family.  The first Christmas there, we busted our tails to get "home" and spend it with all sides of everywhere.  Not because anyone pressured us -- that's just what we thought we should do.  It was crazy.  Didn't feel like much of a celebration.  So the next year, we had our own Christmas at home.  Home for our family unit.  And it was sweet.  We were able to include some folks that didn't have anyone to spend the holiday with.  And build our own memories.  (and just in case grandmothers everywhere are about to hyperventilate, thinking I am going to convince their babies not to come home this year, relax.  We did get "home"  a few days later.  And as far as I know, everyone is still speaking to us.....)

There are some things you can opt out of.  Doesn't have to be Christmas cards or church musicals or travelling far and wide.  It might be saying no to the 6th neighborhood soiree or the 11th kids caroling event.  It might be that you decide not to prepare homemade caramels for 100 friends or not to volunteer at the soup kitchen 4 times during the month of December.  But whatever it is, make your choice....and tell someone else to help you stick to it.  It took me several attempts to take a break from Christmas cards and the only way I finally opted out was the year I asked my husband to help me stick to my choice. 

I don't know what you need to opt out of in order to S-T-O-P a Grinch Christmas at your house.  But there are some things that can go.  And you can figure it out.

And you can have a really Merry Christmas, as merry as all the Who's in Whoville!