Have yourself a merry little.


“I really don’t need any more crap in my life.”
This was my rather undiplomatic announcement to my family Thanksgiving weekend. I have such eloquence don’t I?

I was specifically referring to the annual “What are the rules and expectations for Christmas?” conversation.  I was more generally referring to my life.

May your days be merry and bright…

With my parents still married, being one of 4 siblings, and then husbands, children and fiancés added to the mix, the holidays had been getting out of control. For the last few years we had made various attempts at scaling back — from secret santa to “no presents except stockings” — but I still felt the pinch of expenses and pressure of expectations.

And honestly, I had been given a lot of stuff that I just didn’t want or need over the last many years.

i already have more presents than you!!

Yes, I have also received some very thoughtful gifts which I do appreciate. We have also done the volunteer thing and the charitable contribution thing which has its advantages and more heart than the black friday thing.

Yet I still feel like the obligation obliterates the spirit of the season.

I much rather be given a random “thought you would like/could use/needed this” present then one delivered on official holiday.

By the end of Thanksgiving weekend we made decision to forgo the usual presents and trappings all together. That wasn’t just a royal “we,”  I was certainly leading the charge but it was truly a communal decision.

Most of the family will be spread across the country (including me in NYC) so I expect a number of sykpe or iChat sessions, some kind words and perhaps cards exchanged. At least that is my hope.

That makes me happy.

Central Park Snow and Pines

And may all your Christmases be white…

December for me this year is personally about cleaning out. I’m usually pretty choosy about what I like and would rather purchase well intentioned (and researched) items myself. More importantly, am clearing out the unnecessary and I really don’t need or want any more crap to enter back into my life.

I cleaned out my closet. I gave a fair number of things to my sister who exclaimed, “this is better than Christmas!” I plan to donate the rest including 2 suits which I’ve worn twice in the 10+ years I’ve owned them. I plan to never need a suit again.

Gold Sequened Fabulousness

I’ll be giving the two formal dresses pictured (from 1996 and 1999 ) to a special needs high school prom “closet” created by the Junior League. Every girl should wear a gold sequenced dress once in her life. I wore that number many happy times. Just not in the past 7 years and 4 moves. So I’m saying goodbye to the material and will hold on to the memories.

I’m not going as far as the 100 items challenge but I’ve been doing very critical analysis of what I actually use. For my clothes, if unworn in the last 6 months the question was: “Would I take this to Italy?” If not, into the donate pile it went. (even if it doesn’t go to Italy it is still a decent measure)

Finally, (finally!) I’m putting myself on a budget. I’ve started a dated “desires” list. Non-recycled/vintage items must be on the list for 30 days before purchase. This includes books. My Amazon Wishlist is going nuts but I still have a full to-read shelf to get through. My two transgressions have both been kickstarter campaigns (bike zines and the versalette).

I’m culling through this box and that drawer, and continuing a process of purge that I started 4 years ago. It feels good. And I haven’t missed a thing yet.

That is the point right? A cleaner slate. Honestly decide what is actually needed and necessary. What has surprised me is that I don’t feel constrained. Yes, it is cliche but, I do feel more at ease and – dare I say – free.

Cliches by nature are that which repetitively prove true.

I will try to stay true to these values throughout my three weeks in NYC (starting tomorrow!) It will be a time to work, enjoy and reflect. I am doing my own annual review this year and setting “streamlined and freer” intentions for the new year. As soon as those are more formed I’ll share them here.

The biggest boulder I fear is my belly. My fiscal weakness has always been not concerning myself with I spend on food and drink. I eat healthfully, yet more importantly to the bottom line (wah wah), fully and well both when I go out to eat and at home. So far I have restricted my spending on study coffee and beer, cooked for myself more, and tried to be more budget minded when I buy food at the grocery or out to eat. Setting and sticking to a budget is going to be really important for this area.

The challenge of course is that my “eats” list for the city is long and — another cleaning — I have been prepping to go fully vegan in February. I have been vegetarian in previous times for as long as 6 years and been “flex” for about 4. Never tried vegan (I <3 you cheese) but it is on my list. I’m planning to start yoga teacher certification in the new year and there is a multi-step dietary progression as part of that. [expect more about this later in future posts]

So here is the plan for New York: I’m not going to be overly self critical nor am I going to give myself permission to go nuts as a “gotta eat all this crap now while I can” binge. I will find an amenable middle ground. (starting probably with the ah-maze-ing vegan chocolate cake at Blossom Cafe)

Small steps.

Wow that was a lot more personal than I expected. Why am I sharing all this? Coalescing my own thoughts. Certification. Maybe inspire a few others to think about their own choices and intentions for the new year.

And that is where I am this day.  Hope wherever you are you are well, warm and preparing for a season of glad tidings and joy.

Central Park Snow 

I feel like I am hearing similar “clean” thoughts from a number of people. Please share any intentions you have for the rest of the month. What do you hope for in the season or the coming year?

Images via Flickr under CC license by: Roger Price (06050287), torbakhopper (I already have more presents than you), and the snow images are from 2010 by yours truly.

Speak Your Mind