I don't know if I am good at simplifying things because I am....well, a rather simple person, or if it is some kind of gift from Christ.
Either way, it doesn't matter to me. I like it a lot when something becomes less complicated. It's easier for me to share that way.
When I think of the Christmases that have meant the most to me; the ones which store the most memory-driven smiles, they were de-cluttered Christmases. They can be summarized in one sentence and my family will know exactly what year I am speaking of. For instance:
The year there were four-foot snow drifts and the power went out for a week.
The year we drove to and from Phoenix in the LeBaron.
Just my wife and I, (plus a kitten) in frozen, snowy Chicago.
All the presents stolen from the back of a VW squareback, after a foggy drive to Medford.
Two cats for Christmas, (That was nuts!) in a parsonage in Idaho.
Nairobi...our youngest asked for pencils for Christmas...our oldest directed the children's program.
The year of the Charlie Brown tree in Varna.
Three months of snow in Poznan; and the perfect view of fireworks above the city on New Year's Eve.
Completely lost; driving through 6 inches of snow in the little Opel Astra somewhere between Wroclaw and Krakow...
The list above is not complete. In fact, the more I think about it, pretty much each year has been special, but the best part of each holiday was not the emphasis on the bigger, brighter, louder things, but rather the point where everything slowed down a bit and got smaller; quieter. We enjoyed the presence of God, (whether we knew that was what was happening at the time or not) and consequently our family also enjoyed each other, in a better, simpler kind of way.
The link below is a testimonial to this thought. My daughter and son-in-law created the video several years ago. It was their first Christmas as a family.
A click on the link should get you to the site. Enjoy. :)
(This was the brief summary that leads into the video)
The first year we celebrated Christmas as a family was the close to a rough year. We had $30 to our name. In spite of what could have been, It remains one of my fondest memories. We made a home video that year that I re-watch every Christmas. It helps me to refocus on the things in this world that mean the absolute most. Take a deep breath in. Love each other. Hold each other. Repeat.