Thursday, December 27, 2007

Re-Thinking Christmas: Less Is More

Less is definitely more for gifts. This year, fewer gifts for the kids and virtually none for the adults made for a much more enjoyable and less guilty Christmas morning. The children were just as happy opening a handful of gifts and actually stopped to play with the items they received. Yes, less is more for gifts and we'll do that again next year.

But less is more for other things too. Food for one. We don't need dozens of different kinds of Christmas cookies. A few make the holiday quite merry - and maybe not as fattening. Less work in the kitchen - especially with a houseful of little ones - is definitely a good thing and something we could have done without this year. We had two distinct experiences this Christmas: one on Christmas Eve where everything was made ahead with a Yule Log purchased from a local bakery and one on Christmas Day with the traditional homemade meal made during the day in one small kitchen. By far, the first was the most relaxing and enjoyable. Many thanks to my brother-in-law, who did most of the cooking on Christmas Day and made a wonderful, ecological effort with a heritage turkey (that was delicious - I'm told, I'm a vegetarian) and other local side dishes. However, I'm going to disagree with Sharon at Casaubon's Book here, and say that, during busy holiday times, it is probably better for all involved to eat food made ahead or purchased from a local store. This may mean eating a less traditional meal and enjoying something that is easier to prepare ahead - like lasagna, enchiladas, or chili. The holidays are about time with family and to truly simplify is to cut the fat of cooking as well as gifts. So, at least until the kids are much older, less is more for holiday meals.

Finally, and this may surprise you, less is more when it comes to time with extended family. I love my family. I mean I really really love my family but, every year, Christmas ends with a big blow out fight between certain members. This year was no exception. The most enjoyable Christmas memories I have as an adult are times when the family got together for a short period - a dinner, a single day and night - and the cauldron did not have time to bubble over. In the future, I'll savor the time I get with my family by limiting it and leaving when the holidays are still joyful.

So, at least for me, less is almost always more when it comes to Christmas.

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