For my entire life, Christmas has been an exercise in excess. I’m not saying it wasn’t fun. It definitely was. But, it was also extremely stressful. In addition, over the years we spent way too much money buying way too many gifts, many of which were unwanted or unneeded. When we were downsizing and ridding ourselves of 95% of our possessions, I found an embarrassing number of material goods that were never even pulled out of their packaging. Our local Goodwill ended up receiving countless brand new items that I’d found in the children’s closets, our drawers, and even in the kitchen.
Not only had we spent who-knows-how-much money over the years on unwanted and unneeded gifts, but we’d managed to clutter our home with them as well.
When we moved onto a boat, living that way was no longer possible. We have 600 square feet of living space on the boat. Yeah, I know that sounds shockingly small but it’s clean and cozy and we make it work. And, I gotta tell ya…cleaning house is SO EASY NOW! I swear that’s one of the best parts of living on a boat. Whenever someone is coming over, I clean our room and head, Richard handles the salon and galley, and the boys are in charge of their rooms and their head. We can clean the entire boat, including dusting and mopping, in under an hour.
I have the largest closet on the boat. It’s 2 feet wide and about 4 feet tall. Thus, I didn’t get any drawers. All of my personal items must fit in that closet. No exceptions. Richard has a mini-closet. At 2 feet wide and 2 1/2 feet tall, his shirts can hang in there without getting wrinkled…for the most part. He keeps his shoes in there as well and he has two drawers for his smaller items.
Max and Mason also have small closets and a couple of drawers in their rooms. Since Max is in the V-berth, he has a nice shelf surrounding his bed for his action figures and sentimental items. Mason has two bunks in his room. He sleeps and plays on the top one. He also has a couple of cut-out cubbies and a tiny shelf on which to display a couple of items. His stuffed animals, of course, stay on his bed.
As you can see, nobody has room for any extras. We keep what we use on a daily basis, have a storage place in town for other essentials, and everything else we receive goes to Goodwill. Yes, even brand new gifts that people give us that we just don’t have room for.
I have begged and pleaded with our loved ones to keep our small quarters in mind this holiday season. The boys wrote to Santa, and asked for only small items and gift cards to places they like to go. Richard, the family foodie, asked for gift cards to restaurants and nothing else. The only thing I asked for was a small teak lamp to place in our salon because it’s always so dark in there. Oh, I also asked for a trip to Key West in January (a Christmas/birthday combo gift) and I know I’m getting that because I saw some Key West-related charges on the credit card bill. (Whoop!!!)
What’s been really difficult is holding back on over-shopping for our adult children who DO live in homes. Believe it or not, they often complained about how long it would take to unwrap soooooo many gifts each Christmas morning. We do have a huge family, and we often had visitors during the holidays so the mound under the tree was always bulging.
After we sold the house, we announced to everyone that Christmases would be changing. Each adult child is permitted to request one gift up to a certain dollar threshold. If they wanted a large Christmas like they had during their childhood, they could do that with their spouse or significant other. We would still get together as a family on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day but we would no longer be buying numerous gifts for every single person.
We’d also been generous with our out of town gifts, sending multiple gifts to relatives in other states. That ended, too. Richard is somewhat of a wine expert (he’s had formal training) and he now sends the grandparents one or two of his favorite wines that he discovers each year.
Last year was our first minimalist Christmas and, I have to say, not only was everyone happy with our new holiday tradition, but the stress level associated with Christmas was non-existent! While I did enjoy wrapping gifts each year, the lists, and shopping, and sorting/packing boxes, and taking things to UPS on time, and trying to squeeze every single task and tradition in before Christmas Eve was extremely stressful. Now, we can relax and enjoy the season…and most especially, the TRUE reason for the season. 🙂
Have a super weekend ahead, everybody!
Angela Hoy lives on a mountain in North Georgia. She is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, the President and CEO of BookLocker.com and AbuzzPress, and the author of 24 books.
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