Feel and See - the Spirit of the Season!

How do we feel the spirit of the season when we are so over-committed and rushing around from obligations to the next party? When we’re so focused on materialism and busyness that it blinds our ability to actually feel and see what is really important?

This last week as we cleaned through our kid’s bedrooms, we got rid of stuff. I piled the car trunk and backseat full of bags and boxes. As I wrote previously (Don’t Lose Your Joy), our family is cutting way back on gift-giving this year, which is evident by looking at our empty tree!

In adding even a few gifts back into our home for each family member, I feel it’s so important to get rid of “stuff” before we bring more in!

It feels good. It feels freeing. It feels right to have less.

I’ve also cut back on filling up the holiday schedule. I’ve purposely left days open this season to be able to feel and to see. I found myself trying to justify this to a friend recently, and I’m not sure she understood. But it is important to me and my husband. We want to be able to go with the flow.

It’s taken me years to learn this: To keep things simple! To make time to actually feel and see what is right before us.

• To be open to hospitality and last minute dinner invites.
• To stay home with the family and enjoy FAMILY TIME hanging, eating and watching TV together. To feel what family really is about.
• To have a last minute “date night” with my husband, which is often more important than going out with friends.
• To hear the laughter in my home, and to respond to it.
• To listen to the background Christmas music that we’ve made a priority in our home this year.
• To see when my children have a need, and to be there for them.
• To take pleasure in giving to others.
• To take the time to encourage a friend!

As I’m heading off to Good Will today, to donate my stuff, it will be very freeing.

But more freeing will be sticking to my goal of a lighter schedule.

And ultimately not losing my senses and forgetting to feel and see.

Emmanuel. God with us.

How are you making changes this year, so that you don’t miss out on the importance of the season?

And do you feel the same way about getting rid of stuff before bringing more in?

(PIX: Dinner at my sister's this last weekend. And 2 very old Christmas tablecloths that we girls grew up with, passed down from our Mother.)

Also, I’m such a “toss it together” salad maker that I don’t think to give out the recipes! In my last post, the ingredients to the salad were spinach, red cabbage, onion, avocado, and mandarin oranges. Use your favorite dressing!


ellen b. said...

Fabulous photo of the sisters Sandy! We are trimming way back this Christmas.

Donnetta (momrn2) said...

I did a very similar thing in the kids bedrooms last week. I took a whole new approach to my daughter's room.

I'm beginning to think less is more for her when it comes to triggering her sense of being overwhelmed.

I put almost everything into 2 big black bags. Those then went into the basement. As she asks/wants/ remembers things she had they can come back out of the bags and into a specific location in her room.

Whatever is still in the bags come summer is gone! She obviously doesn't need/ want it if she hasn't played with it in that time.

So far nothing has been asked for from the bags and her room is a much more relaxing, calming and manageable place to be... for all of us!

Yes, definitely trying to rest and settle into the moments of simplicity!

And I completely understand leaving moments on the calendar open! We are doing the same thing as well... as time for us!

ValleyGirl said...

What a wonderful way to simplify the Christmas season! I hosted a little bloggy carnival along this theme (Reinventing Christmas) and it would be awesome if you'd link up, although it was last Tuesday already.

We are simplifying this year, too. I like the idea of going through the clothing for the holidays ~ I should do that too. AND the girls' toys!!!

Moxie said...

YES!! We try to go through and donate sometime after Thanksgiving each year! Not only does it bring a sense of peace but we also know our donations will help out all around! Nice toys will end up blessing others and funds earned by my local Goodwill will be put to good use too! I think we live too complicated these days....we are looking to the more simple this year also with the focus more on our core family!

Betsy said...

I love that 'freeing' feeling of taking bags of stuff to Goodwill! I do the same thing...took a bag last week and already started another. It's so easy to do..especially with kids clothes! Any time someone puts something on that is too small...it goes in the bag.

Myrna said...

I have the trunk full of things cleared from the basement, to make room for gift wrapping on the table that's down there---not that there will be many to wrap. Our near empty-nester schedule is naturally open---which is certainly easier, but feels weird. We've volunteered for a couple of things instead which is a new sort of fun. Doug spent all day Saturday baking his mother's Scotch Shortbread cookies for gifts--his mom's been in heaven 1 1/2 years now. I've had no luck with the invitations I've extended to our home for dinners, etc.---everyone's calendar is so full, but I've had time for a friend whose husband has just left the family---so I'd say the Lord has ordered my time perfectly.
By the way Sandy---Jon has a ticket home 12/24!!!weather permitting.

Sandy Toes said...

Absolutely!!! I have been on a purge all month! Especially with my kids..it is freeing and almost makes the house feel "lighter"!
-sandy toes

Michelle said...

Everyone thought we were crazy when we shopped and wrapped our presents the weekend after Thanksgiving. My husband and I wanted to be able to enjoy the season and not rush around for last minute things. We've been able to enjoy seeing the pretty packages under the tree instead of stressing about what to purchase last minute. We've also cut way back on our gifting and made a trip to Goodwill on Saturday.

It has been so stress free that my husband treated me and we had the house cleaned! It was one last thing I didn't have to do before entertaining this past weekend.

Sarah Herman said...

We also cut back on gifts for the kids this year, not for finicial reasons but to teach our children that christmas is about not only recieving but giving. Which is hard when you grew up with very little and now have the ability to give them just about everything they want or need. So instead of lavishing our chidren with material items we instead are focusing on giving back to others. Donating unused toys and clothing to charity. We also are raising money and toy donations for a local charity toy giveaway. So far we have collected 700 toys and cash donations. This shows my children that others may not be as fortunate as we are and the joy of helping others. It really is so much more exciting to give than recieve. Merry christmas to everyone!

Stacey said...

Sandy, I enjoyed your priority list.

I too have been cleaning out. An organization (can't remember) is coming by to pick up many boxes and bags on Wednesday. It feels so good to take some things out.

Merry Christmas!

emilymcd said...

HI, Sandy-

I'm a natural busy body, so this year I have been given a wonderful gift: I am due with a child in 4 days. I am very limited in my walking lately and my energy level is kaput. I'm learning to live more slowly with my 5 year old and husband. Less becomes more somehow.

It's not of my own doing, but this is a marvelous Christmas gift to me this year. I hope to keep this pace in more holidays to come.

RosyRose said...

Feels so good to "de clutter" doesn't it! My life always feels so ordered when I do that! You are always so inspirational to me!
Yesterday as I was taking pics of food I thought...now how would Sandy take these:)?

Live.Love.Eat said...

I loved this post. We never have a lot of commitments as is so it's easy not to get too overwhelmed. But I am hosting for 10 on Xmas day so I am reminding myself to do quite a bit ahead of time so I can really enjoy the day and not be crazy. As for cleaning up & getting rid, I do this every couple of months and we give it all away to charity. I will be doing it again this week with my little guy.

Glenda/MidSouth said...

I cleaned out a while ago, and when I look around, I see I need to do it again - especially clothes. Your turkey dinner looked wonderful!

Betts said...

I always do a big clean out before Christmas. It's easier for my daughter to get rid of things when she knows more is coming in soon.

We've cut down on the holiday commitments too. We wanted to have time to sit together and watch Christmas movies (the ones we remember as kids), and make cookies and candy.

Tiff said...

Love the black and white photo! You are right Keeping Christmas simple makes for a more memorable Holiday.

Help a special family have a memorable Christmas. It only takes a stamp. http://www.three-peas.com/2008/12/operation-christmas-card.html

Ms. Tee said...

Yes, I agree! We did this very thing - took several loads to the Goodwill just a few days ago!

You and your sisters are so pretty - how neat that you got to visit with them - and the tablecloths are so special. :)
Have a great week!

mrsjones6 said...

Sandi, Thank you for the refreshing and inspiring post. It is so easy to get caught up in it "ALL" this time of year. Your ideas are such and encouragement to those who truly want a more simple and peaceful season.
Blessings to you and your family,

Denise said...

thanks for visiting my blog.

you have SO MANY creative ideas here on your blog! i LOVE it.

i too love to entertain, give creatively, get people together in creative ways and celebrate anything and everything.

be on the look out!
i will be hosting a "thanksgiving in spring" in march.
and a "cookie exchange" in july.
because who says turkey and cookies are just for nov. and dec.!

Denise said...

and to answer the question..i always have to purge before christmas. i did this in october. the kids always get involved, and know that before more comes in, some has got to go.
i love when they give input on who we can give this or that to.

Homesteader in Training said...

I love purging. I feel like I do it all the time yet still don't make a dent. I need to do an overhaul on the kids rooms.
This was a very nice post and a great reminder to slow down and enjoy!

Jen said...

We do good will every summer and it does make us feel good. I hope this holiday season you are well friend.

Jules from "The Roost" said...

Love this post.....I am always weeding out some closet or drawer....it feels good to give a-way and lighten my load!

3CHEERS4MOM said...

You are so sweet to stop bye and leave a message on my blog.
We try to clean out closets at least twice a year. That way we can evaluate what the kids might really need at Christmas, I try to pass most of the girls clothes to my sister, who is a single mom and has a tight budget, and the rest goes to the woman shelter. Even though it isn't much, it’s nice to know that they go to a good use.
I hope that you have a Very Blessed and Joyful Christmas.
–Cheers, Amy

Chris @ Come to the Table said...

You encourage me so much and speak to my heart directly.

Thank you for openly sharing your heart with us (your blog readers) and the things that God has taught you. I too want to "feel and see" the Spirit of the Season.

Be blessed as you enjoy this wonderful season!!

Elizabeth G. said...

One of the ways I've tried to improve on Christmas this year was not to do all my shopping in December. Throughout the year I have been putting things together for friends/loved ones. I've done a a lot of shopping at thrift stores and yard sales and I have made many gifts by hand. So, I was better prepared this year and less financially stressed (all the gifts so far have been a hit!). I've paid special attention to doing for those without families: one friend who lost her son years ago and has no family; an "adopted" grandfather; the children of my friend who passed away this summer...

Although we are now unemployed and one would think this would be a difficult holiday because of it, this season has been made so much more special because of rendering service to others before ourselves and by being prepared. Now, are hearts can be on the Savior - the reason for the season.

God Bless,

Suzann @ Lavender and Roses said...

not only do I always get rid of "stuff" before Christmas, but this year we've really cut way back on what we're giving. We are blessed enough without all the extra "stuff".

Haley said...

I thought of you and your post about getting rid of stuff last night as I sat on my closet floor purging un-needed things myself.... it felt great!

Miss G said...

Sandy, I love this theme of simplifying so we can truly feel and see that keeps coming up in my life. I am thankful that God is showing me that I am not the only one who feels like this would be a good idea when sometimes I feel intimidated trying to explain it to someone who I feel doesn't understand. I guess that's okay, not everyone's in the same place at the same time but yes, I want to feel and to see and to experience this season and not be crazy. I took a carload to a goodwill type store last weekend and it felt SO good!

We have turned down some invitations this year. We have spent many evenings at home. I have LOOKED FORWARD to the parties that we have/are going to. That is a big difference from some years!

Thank you so much for writing about this. I am proud of you and all those out there who are "going against the grain" to make sure they can feel and see. Kelly

p.s. I used an itunes giftcard a student had given me and bought the Sara Groves Christmas cd after you mentioned it and have been listening to it a lot! I'm really enjoying it. Thanks. Kelly

Miss G said...

wow, where to even begin? I am continually inspired and challenged by your blog and little things stick in my head. I have loved being hospitable from an early age but it's like your writing and experiences and the way you're living out your hospitality/mothering/mentoring/ministering pushes me a little further, reminds me to dig deeper, gives me pointers, etc. I am newly married, no kids and yet I begin to imagine my life farther down the road but know that it all needs to and can begin now, not "someday".

The first thing that came to mind when you asked what we've learned is the idea of cooking once for double the hospitality. I just need to jump in and try this "hands on".

The most recent post that has really struck a chord with me is on seeing and feeling. So important! So good to know I'm not alone in my desires to do the same.

Also, I am inspired by your balcony girls group. It reminds me some of a group that my grandma had for my girl cousins and I and some other little girls called "Butterflies and Rainbows". We did crafts and sang songs and had snacks and she taught us truths about friendship.

I am also intrigued by your group of moms cooking for your child's teacher. I am presently a teacher, no kids and wow, I know this would be a blessing. How exciting to think about being able to do this for someone else.

Finally, the importance you place on people is always encouraging and a constant theme, letting your kids cook different things and giving them credit for it and praising their efforts, incorporating your husband's decorating ideas, valuing old friendships and nurturing them, waiting to have dinner at 9:00 so you can share it with friends, not worrying about things being perfect, it's the being together that counts.

Thank you for the ministry you have here and share with us. Congratulations on 300 posts!!! Kelly

Ransomed~Redeemed said...

I LOVE your blog. I want to begin being much more hospitable, but on a budget. I am gleaning ideas from your blog! do you have a subscribe to email link or a follow this blog button adn I missed it? Id love to get updates whenever you post. Thanks, Alida w4