A Simple Approach To The Season
By Patricia Stelzer
Christmas is just a few weeks away. So often what is meant to be a celebration of hope and promise becomes one of frantic preparation and frazzled nerves. It doesn’t have to be that way if a little planning and a different approach are used to deal with the holiday season. Everyone wants to have their home beautifully decorated for the season, and they go to extremes in an attempt to make the house look festive.
In contemplating the usual holiday struggle to get everything done and have the house look as though it’s ready to be photographed for “House Beautiful”, a thought came to mind that has hung on my wall in the form of an old-fashioned sampler: “Simplify, Simplify, Simplify”. What great advice and something so often overlooked.
In all of the very special Christmas stories, the ones that have become classics, that message comes through loud and clear. “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens points out the importance of love and caring as the message of Christmas. “The Littlest Angel” is the story of a child’s treasure given by an angel as the only gift he had to give for the Christ Child’s birth. But that simple gift became the star that guided shepherds and Wise Men to the manger in Bethlehem. A simple little gift, given with love. And what about the “Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry, in which husband and wife give up their special treasure to get a gift for the other?
And then there is the story of the little girl who wanted to give her mother a very special present, one that would make her mother happy and one that would lighten the dreary, day-to-day struggle just to make ends meet. The little girl goes to her grandmother and asks for advice. What did Grandma think Mother would really like? What would make Mother happy? What would be a present that would bring joy to Mother on Christmas morning?
Grandma and granddaughter secretly worked for several days on a project that was to be the perfect gift for the little girl’s mother. The little girl went through magazine after magazine, clipping out pictures that seemed appropriate. She saved nickels and dimes from her lunch money and purchased paper, yarn and glue. Grandma helped her keep the secret and helped the little girl put together what was to be the best Christmas gift ever for the little girl’s mother.
Come Christmas morning, the little girl gave her mother a box wrapped in bright paper. It was about the size of a shirt box. When her mother unwrapped the box and opened it, she found a homemade book bound with yarn. On each page was a picture of some job the mother had to perform around the house. Along with the picture was a short sentence saying that the little girl loved her mother for doing each of the chores for her, and letting her mother know she understood how much work Mother did for the family.
But it was the last page that brought a tear to the mother’s eye. For on that page was the manger scene depicting the Christ child’s birth. On that page the little girl had simply written: “My Mother is special because she is like Mary. Mary loved her child with all her heart. My Mother loves me with all her heart. She is a very special mother, too, and I love my mother for being so special." That simple gift of love would fill that mother’s heart every time she looked at it . . . a gift that spoke to the true meaning of the season.
So in decorations, gifts and get-togethers with family and friends, let’s try to remember three little words this Christmas season: "Simplify, Simplify, Simplify".
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Pat Stelzer is a writer, columnist, reporter, and retired school teacher, currently an adjunct instructor at a community college. She has a long running interest in home decorating and in rustic or folk art
pieces. She has recently published her first mystery novel, "DANGEROUS RESEARCH, BY GEORGE!" Information about it can be found at