America is a complicated place. It’s HUGE. I know, I’ve driven across large swaths of it. It would be impossible to use a handful of words to paint an American. We’re simply too diverse. But bold, and often excessive, does come to mind. I don’t think we mean to be excessive. It’s just the nature of a country with freedom to sprawl and be it’s big, bold self.
I know I’m excessive. Which isn’t a bad thing when focused in the right direction. But when it comes to the holiday season, especially Christmas, I feel worn out by expectations before I’ve even gotten started. My own expectations. The expectations I think others have. The expectations portrayed on TV. Our family has never spent a lot on celebrating, but we almost always spend more than we should or wish we had.
Not this year. This year I’m embracing the abundance of simplicity. The simplicity that allows me to spend time with my children, instead of rushing around stressed trying to find the right gift, for next to nothing, so I don’t look like a Scrooge but don’t break the bank.
My Maggie has a compassionate heart. She wants to know about the world around her. She mourns the suffering of others. I’m glad for that. I’ve shown her pictures of refugee children sleeping everywhere imaginable. When she asked the question, “what can be done,” I felt it was time to give her a way to respond.
Just like everyone else I know, finances are tight in our family. We can’t buy gifts, stuff stockings, splurge on lots of holiday food, send Christmas cards and packages, and send a generous gift to organizations working to relieve the suffering of displaced children. So I gave my kids a choice. I’m so proud and thankful they chose compassion.
Please don’t be offended that you won’t be receiving Christmas cards, or a homemade treat, from our family this year. We’re keeping it simple. And I’m really satisfied with the decision.
Jesus came simply. He slipped into the chaos of this world, announcing himself to simple people, dwelling in the mundane. And yet the ordinary gift of presence was really an extraordinary gift of sacrifice on his part. So simple, his birth, and yet so abundant! Just a baby. It would have been easy to miss him, in fact many did. But so profound, God with us. Not standing at a distance shaking his head or wringing his hands. Present. I get goosebumps thinking of such a mystery. I get excited!
In the simplicity of presence, no fuss, no bells and whistles, I’m looking for abundance. If you care to join me there, sitting still, taking time, spending less, being present, I welcome you. If you don’t send me a Christmas card or bake me a cookie I’ll understand. Understand that you are searching out abundance in the simple things.
There are many ways to find abundance in simplicity. Giving the gift of an uncomplicated conversation, with no hidden agenda or motives, will refresh your heart, and someone else’s. Doing one task at a time, focused and measured for the sake of excellence or pleasure, without being rushed, is a beautiful thing. A walk in nature is a simple treasure almost every heart can enjoy, even more so with family or friends. The opportunities to find abundance in simplicity are endless.
Our big, bold, beautiful America is complicated, extravagant, excessive, noisy! Let’s close some of the unnecessary tabs open in our browser, power down, cool off, and simply enjoy the abundance of being.