November 23, 2009

Simplify

"Our lives are frittered away by detail; simplify, simplify."
—Henry David Thoreau

Simplify: to make simple or simpler, to reduce to basic essentials, to diminish in scope or complexity.

As we quickly approach Thanksgiving, the rush of this time of year will overtake us all. With it comes all the decorating, shopping, wrapping, food planning and preparation, expectations, wishes - and inevitably - disappointments. I wish I could say that this is my favorite time of year, but I just wouldn't be honest if I did.

In anticipation of a higher stress level, I long for simplicity. My husband and I enjoyed a very simple Thanksgiving once, before we had children. We simply booked a hotel room in Cannon Beach, simply made reservations at a nice restaurant and simply walked away from the dishes afterward. Then we simply walked on the beach and enjoyed each other's company. It was simply lovely. *smile* A few years back I had the privilege and honor of going abroad, actually traveling on Thanksgiving Day, which was absolutely wonderful for me, but not so much for my family.

Those types of Thanksgivings are not going to happen again for a very long time, I'm afraid. Against my own wishes, I must fulfill the expectations of a large meal (more than we can eat, actually) and a warm, holiday atmosphere. I have tried to simplify the menu, but my family just won't have it. It's all I can do to maintain the boundaries of what's on the menu currently - my mother would add another entree if she had her way, and more desserts, too! I have tried to change the traditions, but am spitting in the proverbial wind...it's just not happening.

Our Thanksgiving menu consists of:

Smoked Turkey & Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes & Gravy
Cranberry Sauce
Green Bean Casserole
Sweet Potato Casserole
The Required Corn
Creamy Fruit Salad
Fresh Baked Bread
Cheese-Stuffed Celery
Deviled Eggs
The "official" Relish Tray (pickles, olives, etc.)
A variety of Pies, nuts & candy
Beverages of all types

Gosh, just lookin' at it like that, it sure doesn't look very healthy, does it? *smirk* Any guesses on the calorie count on that meal?

But, it's not over. We immediately swing into Hanukkah only a couple of short weeks away; not just for my family, but coordination for our congregation, as well (which I love, by the way). Then it's the Christmas obligations. I do Christmas for my husband, who still enjoys all the trimmings, and my extended family. Honestly, I long for the day when I will have fulfilled my duty to this holiday and will be able to sit it out. For me, it's just a lot of stress, food and expense. Wow, what a Scrooge, huh? *chuckle*

So, how do I simplify all those obligations? I could just simply say "no", I suppose. Hmmmm...not so sure about that, actually. I just don't feel like I can say no to things that are so important to those I love - can you? I make lists and try to stay organized, but in reality it's just a lot of things that have to be completed in a short period of time. By the time New Years Day rolls around, I'm just so happy that it's over for another year.

In children's holiday stories it all seems so simple. Everyone is happy until someone gets stuck somewhere far away and the hero has to 'save' Christmas...or whatever holiday the show is about. That's pretty simple, right? They just never show the harried mother in the background rushing around for days and days trying to make it all perfect for the family. Am I complaining now? Sheesh...sorry!
Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.
~Lin Yutang

Elimination of non-essentials is something I'll have to ponder. What's essential to one family member could easily be a non-essential to another; so how do I eliminate anything? Until I figure out an answer, I will be obligated to do it all. I did, however, find this website full of information and tips on simplifying your lifestyle: Simple Living Manifesto. Perhaps now is not a good time to give these principles a try...perhaps in January, eh?

2 comments:

Ari C'rona said...

Yes, I do wish for a time when you can eliminate some of those things, my dear friend. In the meantime, just give me my 'do' list, okay?

Love that link! :o)

Nitrocat said...

Don't eliminate...Delegate!!

Almost a decade ago we started baking the turkey/stuffing the day before Thanksgiving. Once it cools a little, we carve it up and put it in a crock pot covered with broth to be reheated the next day. The meat is wonderfully moist and all of that mess is already cleaned up.

S