Archive for the ‘SIMPLIFY!’ Category

One possible way to simplify and de-stress your Christmas is to eschew the mobs at the big box stores and the mall in favor of traditional brick and mortar businesses in your hometown. Such businesses will likely be less crowded than the mall, and you’ll also be giving back to your local community.

To many, this seems the right thing to do, for America was founded on brick and mortar businesses.

Enter the 3/50 Project, a nationwide, grassroots movement with the following Mission Statement:

The 3/50 Project “supports independent, locally owned businesses by inspiring consumer loyalty to the storefronts that directly fund their communities.

  • To promote and strengthen brick and mortar businesses owned by people in the community
  • To thank consumers for their patronage
  • To expand local revenue streams by showing how a small dollar amount can translate into enormous financial stability
  • To shine a light on the stark contrast between what a locally owned brick and mortar business contributes to the local economy and the paltry amount big boxes, franchises, chains, and internet purchases make.
  • To save the local economy…three stores at a time

Visit the official website to learn about how you may help.


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black_fridayAs those who have followed this holiday blog over the past two years may recall, I take a dim view of crass Christmas commercialism, and particularly the abject feeding frenzy known as “Black Friday” – that morning after Thanksgiving when millions rise in the pre-dawn darkness to stand in line outside retail outlets before engaging in a mad rush to “get the best for less.” And I do mean “mad rush.” This post Turkey-day buying hysteria has escalated beyond all rhyme and reason over the last couple of decades, and last year, as was probably inevitable, someone got trampled to death.

But this year, things will be different – or so Wal mart assures us.  They’re moving the start of  Black Friday to to Thanksgiving morning, and remaining open through Black Friday.

One is tempted to argue – since the hot deals will first become accessible on Thanksgiving proper (and in limited supply) – that this will just make for the same sort of maniacal rush as in previous years, but on Thanksgiving day, rather on Friday.  Besides detracting from time spent with family at hearth and home.

Sound fun? Sure it does! Why relax and enjoy good food and drink with friends and family when you can stress out fighting the hordes of rabid deal-seekers at Wallyworld?

To read previous articles on the subject of  Black Friday, follow the links after the snip, below.

November 11, 2009

Calming the Black Friday Crowds


A year after an unruly crowd trampled a worker to death at a Wal-Mart store, the nation’s retailers are preparing for another Black Friday, the blockbuster shopping day after Thanksgiving. Along with offering $300 laptops and $99 navigation devices, stores are planning new safety measures to make sure the festive day does not take another deadly turn.

Last year, frenzied shoppers at a Wal-Mart in Valley Stream, N.Y., trampled Jdimytai Damour, a temporary store worker who died soon afterward. To prevent any repeat, Wal-Mart has sharply changed how it intends to manage the crowds.

That new plan, developed by experts who have wrangled throngs at events like the Super Bowl and the Olympics, will affect how customers approach and enter the stores, shop, check out and exit. Each store will have its own customized plan. The hope is for an orderly Black Friday, a seemingly incongruous notion.

The most significant change at Wal-Mart is that the majority of its discount stores (as opposed to its Supercenters) will open Thanksgiving morning at 6 a.m. and stay open through Friday evening. Last year, those stores closed Thanksgiving evening and reopened early Friday morning. By keeping the stores open for 24 hours, Wal-Mart is hoping for a steady flow of shoppers instead of mammoth crowds swelling outside its stores in the wee hours of Friday….

Read more

Previous articles on Black Friday from Simplify Christmas–

Why not try doing some low-key shopping locally, and dispense with Black Friday? More fun, less stress, and the money spent locally will either stay in our community or will go towards helping the less fortunate.  A printable 5-page list of local holiday bazaars may be found here. Likewise, Christmas bazaars, and many free/low-cost holiday events are listed at the SimplyXmas Calendar, which is constantly updated from now right through until New Year’s.

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A point I’ve made over and over again in this blog is that in order to simplify your Christmas, you have to do something. You have to make a concerted, positive effort to change those things that are making you miserable with each passing Christmas. In line with this is the “Christmas Pledge, set forth in Unplug the Christmas Machine , by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli. For your edification, I now reproduce the pledge in its original form, save for adding a sixth element of my own devising to the pledge.


Believing in the beauty and simplicity of Christmas, I commit myself to the following:

  1. To remember those people who truly need my gifts.
  2. To express my love for family and friends in more direct ways than presents.
  3. To rededicate myself to the spiritual growth of my family.
  4. To examine my holiday activities in light of the true spirit of Christmas.
  5. To initiate one act of peacemaking within my circle of family and friends.
  6. To endeavor, after each Christmas season, to carry something of the values of Christmas with me throughout the rest of the year.

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In the video below, “I Believe in Father Christmas,” Greg Lake is singing about a process he went through, that many people go through as they grow older:

1.) The wonder and innocence of Christmas

I remember one Christmas morning
A winter’s light and a distant choir
The peal of a bell, and that Christmas tree smell
And their eyes full of tinsel and fire.

2.) The loss of innocence; the realization that “Father Christmas” isn’t real. In a broader sense this verse can be taken to mean the realization that Christmas is very much a commercial thing – the line in the prior verse, “They sold me a Silent Night” bears this out.

And I believed in Father Christmas
And I looked at the sky with excited eyes
till I woke with a yawn in the first light of dawn
And I saw him and through his disguise

3.) His own personal resolution as to what Christmas means. The understanding that Christmas is, in a sense, a “state of mind.” He proffers good wishes upon us, which is in itself an act of charity, then he concludes that “The Christmas we get we deserve.” And that’s really the key to what he’s trying to say. Each of us is free to keep Christmas any way he or she pleases, or not to keep it at all. It doesn’t have to be about commercialism: it is you who makes it about commercialism. The vast advertising media in the United States cultivates a two-way relationship with Christmas advertising: they sell you a concept, and either you buy it, or you don’t. But you don’t have to buy it. You can make Christmas about everything else – about charity, about caroling, about family, about togetherness, about plum pudding and mince pie. Those who are alone may reach out to others, and those who are not alone may reach out to those who are.

Am I saying: Do not buy presents? Certainly not. I am only suggesting, as I have suggested in other posts, that Christmas can be about so much more than presents, and presents will never be able to replace the things that really matter: the togetherness, now, and the memories that we will retain when we are old, long after the presents are forgotten.

Aim for joyful, memorable experiences this Christmas, and let the presents be the icing, not the cake.

They said there’ll be snow at Christmas
They said there’ll be peace on Earth
Hallelujah, Noel! Be it Heaven, or Hell,
The Christmas we get we deserve.

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"Safe," by James Walker

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Click here for map to location.

Click on graphic to visit official website.

Pacific Arts Holiday Market, Bellingham, Washington, November 28-December 21, 2008

Click on graphic to visit official website.

Click here for map to location.

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Well, no kid has everything, but let me pose the following scenario to you. I have no doubt that many readers will be familiar with it–

Dick and Jane get lots of presents at Christmas.  Their parents go all out, as do both sets of grandparents along with assorted aunts and uncles. There’s not room for everything under the tree; presents have to be piled on the kitchen table as well. Christmas Eve, or Christmas morning, the unwrapping gets underway, and two or three hours after starting, Dick and Jane are still at it. Paper and ribbon and bows everywhere; the place looks like it’s been hit by a hurricane.

It’s hard to buy for kids like this. First of all, there’s the risk of duplication, especially if you go after this year’s “trendy” toys.  But on a deeper plane, suppose that you feel like you want to get them something that’s special, amongst all those other “special” things (read: special junk)….

Answer: Books. When the toys have lost their novelty a few months down the road, and joined the vast array of rarely-played-with toys that populate Dick and Jane’s rooms, the books will still be there, beckoning. Well, maybe. This strategy probably works better with younger kids who are just learning to read, than it will with older kids who have discovered the allure of the video game. But even if the books go neglected, you will know that you gave it your best shot, bestowing upon them a time-honored, non-passive form of entertainment that enriches both mind and spirit. As opposed to glitzy crap made in Chinese sweatshops.

There’s the added advantage here that you can, with some judicious shopping around in used bookstores, pick up like-new kids books at a substantial savings over the big retailers. Unless you think that spending more money on brand new books means you love Dick and Jane more, that God abhors Christmas thrift, or some other crazy idea along those general lines.

Another idea is art supplies. Most kids like to draw and color, so getting them crayons, colored pens and pencils, art paper, etc., is never a waste.

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