FOR THE BEREAVED: Keep it simple this holiday season

Holiday season about old traditions and keeping gifts simple

In speaking with quite a few different people lately, I have discovered that I am part of a growing group of people who are opting to keep the holiday season simple by going back to some old traditions.

The holidays used to be a source of great discontent for me. While everyone else was running around, with what seemed to be endless amounts of energy and enthusiasm, I was struggling with trying to figure out how I was going to find money I didn’t have to buy gifts that had no heart and I felt exhausted.

When kids are small, we seem to feel that we have to get them something big for Christmas they will remember for life.

We up the bar each year by outdoing our awesome idea from last year until eventually we get to the place where we are either out of money, or we have nothing left to get.

If we never start that trend within our family, it will not become a problem later on. If only we had that insight before we started the whole ball of wax.

The guilt I used to feel overshadowed all or most of the joy at this time of year. I never had the money to go out and buy that wonderful new TV, cellphone, or the newest fad. My trick was to go buy a whole bunch of little things that added up to what seemed like a mountain of presents and then worry if they were disappointed or thought I was cheap.

As life would have it, all my worrying was for naught. Turns out that the others in my family never really cared about the gifts.

Imagine that! All those years of stewing and worrying and overspending,  all for nothing!

Turns out, all they wanted for Christmas was to be together. As the years have passed, we have become more accustomed to the idea of not buying as many gifts. We buy something small, just one or two items that the person can use or enjoy and only for those who will be around the tree on Christmas morning.

Although I do confess, now that I’m older and the pressure is off, I do enjoy choosing something nice for my grandchildren.

If you are caught in the cycle of “upping the bar” and are starting to dread the holidays, simply stop.

Give yourself permission to stay within your budget. Explain to those who may be disappointed that this holiday isn’t about the presents. It’s about being present. Make gifts together while you play those old favorite songs and get back to basics. After all, Christmas  didn’t start out this way; we made it this way and we can take it back to simpler times if we want.

Barbara Bleiler is a certified funeral celebrant and advertising rep for the Grand Forks Gazette