Thursday, December 9, 2010

Priorities and the Holidays

I read lots of blogs for creative inspiration and for fun...but lately, reading blogs has been frustrating. A lot of people are in the "holidays are coming, must rush around and be super busy!" mode.

I don't judge, I've been there before. It's just that when I was busy and rushing around and buying presents and decorating the house...I was miserable. And these people sound pretty miserable too.

I will tell you now that I'm an atheist. Even though the rest of my family is catholic, we never went to church, not even on holidays. To me (and to my family for the most part) christmas is just a nice time to get together, have a good meal and wear pajamas for two days. And I can't be sure about this but I assume that if I were religious, christmas would be a time to reflect on my relationship with god and do nice things for other people.

Now that I'm living mindfully, it surprises me that so many people (my old self included) seem to lose sight of what's important around the holidays. There's constant frantic screaming from the tv in the form of stupid commercials for diamonds and toys. Even my favorite clothing store was filled to the brim with displays of junky appliances and novelty gifts...all on sale for 50% off...why not buy two?!

What I don't understand is the hectic attitude that's not really about anything important. If the holidays are supposed to be a time to see friends and family or to celebrate your chosen religion, how did all this crazy consumerism and time wasting come about? I'm pretty sure the baby Jesus never ran around screaming "OMG, I still need to hang all these ornaments and string these lights and make these cookies and buy some diamonds for all my ladies! I'm so busy that I couldn't possibly find the time to hang out with my disciples. I'll never get this done in time for my birthday and I'm the freaking Son of God!"

I find it so odd that this time of year distracts so many people from what's truly important. The time, money and effort spent on holiday gifts and traditions could be better spent improving our lives, the lives of our friends and family and the lives of people we haven't even met. Why do these priorities fly out the window the moment holiday songs start playing in every store the day after Halloween?

In lieu of holiday decorating and tree purchasing, I'm donating art supplies through my work's "Sponsor a Family Giving Program". Ian and I had a great time picking out all the art supplies we wished we'd had when we were kids. I feel good knowing that some little girl will know what it's like to use a real paintbrush or to draw with charcoal or to sketch her ideas in her very own sketchpad. These are things I never knew as a child.

I challenge everyone reading this today to live mindfully this holiday season. Take a minute to think about your traditions and why they are (or aren't really) important. Think about the time spent on any given task and decide if that time could be put to better use. Think about the things you'd love to experience, the things that will make great memories. Toss out anything that gets in the way of the truly important things. I promise you'll be happier for it.


  1. Very thoughtful and well put, Crystal. Thank you for this.

  2. This post is just golden. It's everything I've believed and felt and wished for the holidays my whole life, and I am proud to say that, for the most part, I have lived it. Because of our financial situation, we've never been able to buy many gifts or do much of anything "extra"... a fact that used to depress me but now I see it as a blessing. I've become accustomed to a low-key holiday, free of consumerism, materialism, busyness, stress, and guilt - and I am definitely happier for it!

  3. Thank you for sharing this, Crystal. I think you have definitely given many people something to think about....mainly Christians, for that matter. I, myself, am a Christian and have always gotten a bit 'blue' around the holidays because of the mindset of the 'frantic peoples' out there doing just as you've described so well! My husband and I don't decorate and choose to give gifts only to our children, and it's usually just something monetary to help them out, as they are all adults now. Again - I thank you!!

  4. a) You are awesome.
    b) This post is both hilarious and poignant.
    c) I agree with and love all of it.

  5. Hi Crystal,
    My friend, Jenn, shared the link to your page. I am a Christian and I love how you mentioned what Jesus would NOT have done at Christmas. What a great visual lesson! He would love your ideas to live mindfully, adopt a family, and toss out all that gets in the way of what truly matters. For indeed, He came to show us that LOVE is the greatest gift of all!