Sunday, August 3, 2014
143 Days Until Christmas, and Then.......
There are usually two types of Christmas countdowns - the one that focuses on Santa Claus, and the one that focuses on VISA.
The Santa Claus is Coming countdown includes decorating the tree with meaningful ornaments, enjoying stockings and presents, singing well-known carols, preparing and sharing the holiday meal, and all the feel-good trappings of family gathering to enjoy traditions together.
The How Much Can I Put on the VISA countdown is more about getting started "buying stuff" early enough to spread out the costs and therefore avoid maxing out the credit cards at the last minute, anticipating what trendy gifts that are popular in the Fall will still be desirable in December, agonizing over the simple but impersonal easiness of gift cards, and attempting to avoid the pressure of matching home decor to a Pinterest Board.
I love Christmas and everything about it, and for about 40 years these have been my countdowns to the big day. Generally, the first one has been the driving force that kicks in the second one around the end of September each year. While the second countdown is not delightful, the two do compliment each other. They do work together.
Regardless of our changing "family structure" over the years, the boys and I have always celebrated Christmas in our house. With room for lots of family and friends. With a large tree. With lots of presents. With a big meal prepared in my big kitchen. With my collection of 75 Santas decorating the whole house. Bill and I have enjoyed all of this together with our six sons since 2008.
This year will be the same - and completely different. This year there is a new countdown added to the other two. This year will be the last year that Christmas will look like all the Christmases before.
This countdown continues ticking after Christmas Day.
It is very telling for me that as much as I adore all the traditions and sounds and smells and feelings of Christmas, I remain most excited about the new countdown.
I'm still looking forward to Christmas. I already have some gifts bought (that VISA countdown is more critical when aiming for debt-free by February). I've looked at flights from Seattle for Jeff. Jillian's stocking has been added to the other seven. I won't hate it when decorations show up in stores before Halloween.
Last year when I put away all the ornaments and lights and decorations, I did not include anything that wasn't used. Those things went in the yard sale pile, and meant two emptied storage containers. It felt like progress. It felt good.
There were still nine containers returned to the attic. Don't judge me :-). Some of the Santas are pretty big.
This year, when this last big Christmas is over, there will be one remaining container. Holidays will still happen every year, and our new home will look and feel like Christmas for a couple weeks. But in the foreseeable future our Christmases will be much smaller.
Like in all other areas of our life, only those things that pass the "most precious" test will make the final cut. Photos of all the Santas will be added to our growing album of memories. It will mean an empty attic. It will feel good.
Some of the more precious and breakable pieces may be added to the two "under a friend's bed" boxes that will stay behind. I'm hoping that family and friends will want some items, and that I'll get to see them enjoying a new life as part of someone else's traditions. My comfort with the purging isn't dependent on that happening, but would be a nice bonus.
When we first started discussing this lifestyle change I worried about all we would be "giving up" by not having the S&B. I thought that the "lasts" we would be passing through could be sad events. I anticipated we might dread these milestones.
I'm happy to say that the opposite is true. In addition to the joy of experiencing the event, I can now add the excitement of marking off another day, week, month from the countdown calendar! It adds happiness rather than causing sadness. There is no dread, only celebration.
So Santa Claus is Coming and the VISA will take some hits just like every other year. In January we will be just a few months from our launch, and Christmas countdowns will never look the same.