Fighting for a Simpler Christmas

Season’s Greetings to one and all! How has you Christmas been? I’ve come on here to air some of my frustrations about being a Minimalist at Christmas. I know you’ll understand.

We’ve been Minimalists for 4 years now and certainly our wider family and friends know about this by now. We are the butt of regular jokes about Minimalism which we try to take with good humour; since we also laugh at some of the lavish spending of our family and friends. However it really does start to grate with me now, 4 years on when we’ve specifically asked for people to respect our lifestyle and values at each seasonal celebration when we still get gifts we’d rather not be receiving. With the odd and rare exception, however thoughtful people think they are being, they are buying something that quite bluntly – we don’t want!

The fact is that we buy the chocolate we like to eat and don’t particularly enjoy the seasonal boxes of chocolates that people like to give. If we need biscuits, we go out and buy the ones that we love to eat. If we wanted seasonal fruits and nuts at Christmas, we would buy them. Inevitably also, all these things come wrapped in plastic which we try so hard to avoid with all our purchasing. We don’t want wasteful novelty gifts – no matter how much fun the giver thinks they will be – they will end up going to charity and I strongly suspect they have to bin them. We’d rather they weren’t created and resources weren’t needlessly wasted in the first place. Whatever hobby we have, we buy the tools that we have researched and would like to have, so it’s not helpful when people give us more. Do I sound ungrateful? Because I worry that’s how it comes across to family.

Sadly, they all seem to think we’re boring asking for gift cards  and ‘need’ something to open on Christmas Day (which we don’t and have tried with all our might to get this across). So every gift card seems to come attached to a box of chocolates, box of biscuits or other Christmas novelty – sigh. Actually the best gift we received this year was from a family friend, who via Unicef had donated a pair of warm, winter boots to a child abroad in need. Opening that card gave me a really warm feeling on Christmas Day which I didn’t get with any of my other gifts.

The trouble is that whether we don’t create a list and ask for nothing, or whether we create a very specific list – we still end up receiving gifts that we don’t want and then have to dispose of in a responsible manner. However for the largest part, our family did stick to either money or gift cards (although I worry  a little about the plastic waste those create, but surely a little plastic is better than whole items you don’t want or need?) A friend of ours (who is not a Minimalist) only ever asks for the essentials at Christmas, like socks and deodorants. That way he never has to worry about buying them for himself and gets to spend all his money on computing which is his first love. So perhaps I will start asking for bags of flour, oats, sugar and that kind of thing instead?! My family will probably then start to assume we are living in poverty but hey ho!

My husband and I have agreed that we need to try and find some alternative traditions to fill up Christmas Day with. We always enjoy a couple of good meals together, a short walk and usually a board game. Perhaps we just need to accept that that is special enough. Since most people do congregate under a loaded Christmas Tree and that is some sort of expectation around which the day centres. How do you deal with it, especially when celebrating with non-Minimalist family members? I promise I’m not Scrooge really, but still aligning my newer Minimalist values with older traditions. Any tried and trusted methods to get family to STOP buying you things you don’t want or need?

Bah humbug! 😉

Minimalism in Pictures- Our House

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I love reading other people’s blog posts where they show pictures of their house. It’s then I think I can really see minimalism in action and think about changes I might make. Well, here is our house! After about 18 months of minimising, I am finally happy to take pictures. I couldn’t really show you before and after pictures as we’ve only lived here 8 months, so it would be kinda hard to tell!

Anyhow, I think you can really see that most superfluous items have now gone. I’m not saying we’ve arrived, I don’t think minimalism is a destination- it’s a journey. I can still see areas where I want to clear the surfaces and I know I’ve got a hidden stash of stuff to be car booted- just waiting for the next car boot!

Essentially minimalism is about having the basics, the stuff you actually need and getting rid of the rest that only serves to distract. Well I truly feel I’ve arrived at the point at which I can testify to the benefits of minimalism. Now I am able to focus on tasks that I want to achieve because I have the space to be able to do so and less to stop me from getting there. I spend less time on managing the distractions- whether that’s cleaning, repairing or just feeling guilty about projects started but not finished etc. I feel free, even my husband agrees that the house feels healthier, flows better and feels like we can ‘breathe’. I believe that clutter stifles creativity and that could be enough to distract you from your true purpose in life. I hope in future posts to write about the things we have begun to achieve. Whether it’s a craft project, something musical, baking or just writing a letter or diary entry.

Life is simpler when you have JUST what you need. I look at advertising differently now, it annoys me because it is so stupid and I just don’t fall for their tricks (not that I ever did that much before, but I am seeing it in a whole new light since minimising). I am more considerate about each and every purchase I bring into my home, from looking at its packaging, to whether we really need it and it’s long-term ownership costs (like repair and disposal). This applies not only to larger purchases, but small things like food too.

Anyway, I’ve touched on lots of things here, some of which I hope to come back to in future posts.

Thanks for journeying with me!