Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Living more with less part 4

"More with less does not mean a somber lifestyle which preaches only responsibility and condemns beauty, excitement and humor." --Doris Janzen Longacre

In the midst of the holiday season, here are some ideas from Living More with Less regarding celebrations, with my thoughts in red.
  • Celebrations are more than entertainment--they should nurture people and strengthen faith. I totally agree! For more ideas on this subject, see this recent post about an inspiring book on traditions.

  • When planning celebrations, look for moderation and simplicity. I have been thinking about this a lot. We are looking for ways to cut back, which includes our decision to not give our son any presents this year. He's just one year old, his needs are being met, and we have a generous family who desires to give him some new toys and clothes. (We compiled a list of suggested items.) With gift giving occasions, we're trying to communicate our desire for simplicity to loved ones while also acknowledging our gratitude. Please note: I really enjoy giving and receiving gifts, but in recent years we've made several steps in decreasing the quantity. For my husband and me, this is a positive decision, not a somber one (see quote at top of post).

  • Save energy and avoid products that litter and pollute. It's so easy when we're busy or hosting large groups to opt for disposable. I've also found many cute designs on paper plates and napkins, and these products can often be acquired very cheaply. Though we're still setting out paper napkins when we're hosting, I've been using "real" plates and cups almost exclusively. It really doesn't take much effort to clean up, and I feel good knowing I've taken a small step to be more green. Cloth napkins would be the next step for us.

  • Give gifts that meet genuine needs or reflect the giver's desire to show love, or both. What a thought-provoking statement! My favorite gifts are usually the most practical. I really enjoy receiving socks (cute ones, of course) and postage stamps for Christmas. I also appreciate sentimental gifts, such as the porch swing my husband gave me as a wedding present. We had our DTR ("defining the relationship" conversation) on a friend's porch swing and were engaged on that same swing, so acquiring one of our own was a very fitting gift!

I've really appreciated the challenges and inspiration from this book. What are your thoughts on these topics?


Anonymous said...

I agree with all of these thoughts about gift-giving -- but when it comes to giving to those I love the most, it is hard to remember these ideals! (But I'm trying!!)
Love you, Mom

Niki RuralWritings said...

I agree with these ideas, but I really feel that they can all be achieved in the context or a vibrant, tradition filled, thoughtful gift giving, full of people and food and love environment. In fact, these ideals wouldn't be met, otherwise. Over the top austerity, simplicity, and frugality to me makes for a bleak holiday. I would be very mindful and purposeful of what you want as you begin your family holiday traditions, the memories, as you know, are priceless.

Katie said...


I am in total agreement with you on the matter of gift-giving. We too especially when the kids are young really get very little presents! If anything, it would be wrapping up some clothes (which usually I have purchased at consignment stores like "Once Upon a Child" - do they have those in Iowa?? Great deals - hardly used clothes because they grow out of them so quick!!) But from us, I almost always buy some type of practical gift for the kids - such as books or educational activities, etc. We also have family that likes to give toys, etc. so I never buy toys!

Also - as far as giving gifts, I love making gifts, and I find that these homemade gifts are usually the ones that are sometimes remembered the most - both in receiving and giving. And thanks to you and some of your ideas on your blog, I have a couple new homemade gifts to try this year! Thank you for that!

I really want to read this book as I agree with so much you've posted about it. Thanks for sharing!!


Amy said...

These are all such wonderful ideas and I agree wholeheartedly with each of them. I think the focus from gift-giving to creating family traditions is so important and, to be honest, when we made that shift a whole new purpose came out of the holidays for me. It is truly a time of bonding with my children and the gifts have become secondary. It is the rituals that you create that are important. You are starting this early and I think your child will find it just as rewarding as you do.

PS- Thank you for the thank you card!! You are too cute and so sweet! I am thankful for your friendship and had a blast being your swap partner!

Nicole Baart said...

I love your thoughtful posts, Carrie. You manage to say very articulately a lot of things that I am only able to incoherently think. Thanks! Oh, and though I missed commenting on the product post, it got me calculating--and I discovered that I am very high maintenance! Mostly because my skin is so dry that my hands crack and bleed. Eww. I'm not a fan of winter...

Wishing you a happy (and simple) holiday season,


Anonymous said...

Carrie, I love your blog! I just linked over from your sister's, which has been on my "Favorites" list for some time. After reading several of your posts, I'm putting yours there, too.

This particular post resonates deeply with me, especially this time of year. We have a large family (married kids and MANY grandchildren), and gifts are myriad all year long. I try to give things that are "special" and geared to the individual. I sometimes "hit the mark," but other times have been dismayed at the duplications.

In a recent conversation, one daughter commented that "everyone has so much, it's hard to have anything be 'special.'" Bingo. I found her comment a helpful guide for my own heart, along with my husband's advice to "give a gift and then 'hands-off.'" In other words, put aside my expectations for how the gift is received/used. The giver can't make the receiver attach special affection or memories to the gift.

This year as in other years, I'm making some of the gifts, choosing items that I enjoy working with and that I think the particular child will use/enjoy. As my hands are working with the gift item, I pray for that particular child. No matter how the gift is received or used, the pleasure in making it remains mine.

Our sweet Lord came to bring Life, not stuff. Wise stewardship of everything (relationships, included) calls for simple, purposeful choices. I am increasingly desirous that my inward and outward life honor Him. In the end, that's the best "gift" I may give my dear ones. Blessings. Desert Lady