Give Me the Simple Life: Creating Margin this Christmas

swf-simplelife-banner

“You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving.” Amish proverb

I do it every year.

I plan for a simpler, less stressful Christmas season and, every year, by Christmas Eve, I’m exhausted! After our delicious and very-time-consuming-to-make traditional Swedish meal to honor my husband’s relatives (think: Vikings), it’s time to head to church. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but a few Christmas Eve’s, I have sent my husband and kids head off without me. The pull to spend an hour of quiet in the house feels as strong as a magnet.

It’s odd. My children are adults now. Wouldn’t you think that Christmas would be simpler? Instead, it’s just the opposite. Juggling schedules to share the grandbabies with the in-laws, trying to include our elderly parents at the best time of day for them, and so on.

The thing is: you can simplify your to-do list, but you can’t really simplify people. We are just a complicated bunch.

Here’s where I borrow a lesson about simplicity from the Amish. It’s easy to get distracted with the buggies and the bonnets and the beards, but there’s so much more to learn from these gentle people if you’re willing to look a little deeper.

Yes, they live with less “stuff” and that does make for a simpler, less cluttered life. But it’s the reason behind it that is so compelling to me: they seek to create margin in their life. Not just empty space, but space that is available to nourish family, community, and faith. Their Christmas is far less elaborate than yours or mine, but what they do fill it with is, oh so right.

Christmas comes quietly on an Amish farmhouse. There is no outward sign of the holiday as we know it: no bright decorations, no big tree in the living room corner. A few modest gifts are waiting for children at their breakfast place settings, covered by a dishtowel. Waiting first for Dad to read the story of Christ’s birth from the book of Luke. Waiting until after a special breakfast has been enjoyed. Waiting until Mom and Dad give the signal that the time has come for gifts.

Later, if Christmas doesn’t fall on a Sunday, extended family and friends will gather for another big meal. If time and weather permits, the late afternoon will be filled with ice skating or sledding. And more food! Always, always an abundance of good food. Faith, family, and community. That is the focus of an Amish Christmas.

And it’s also how the story begins for A Lancaster County Christmas, as a young family prepares for Christmas. A winter storm blows a non-Amish couple, Jaime and C.J. Fitzpatrick, off-course and into the Riehl farmhouse. An unlikely and tentative friendship develops, until the one thing Mattie and Sol hold most dear disappears and then. Ah, but you’ll just have to read the story to find out what happens next (good news—the ebook is on sale now!). Without giving anything away, I will say that I want to create a Mattie-inspired margin this Christmas season. Mattie knew inconveniences and interruptions that come in the form of people (big ones and little ones!) are ordained by God. And blessed by God.

Creating margin probably means that I won’t get Christmas cards out until the end of January, and my house won’t be uber-decorated. After all, something has to give. But it will mean I make time to volunteer in the church nursery for a holiday-crowded event. And time to invite a new neighbor over for coffee. Hopefully, it will mean that my energy won’t get diverted by a frantic, self-imposed agenda. Only by God’s agenda, the essence of true simplicity.

snowy winter

Congratulations to the winner of last Tuesday’s giveaway, KENDRA BURROWS!. Please email info {at} suzannewoodsfisher {dot} com to claim your prize.


lancasterchristmas-banner

Pick up A Lancaster County Christmas ebook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Christian Book Distributors.

Are you new here? You might want to subscribe to my email updates, or follow me on FacebookTwitterPinterestGoogle+, or Instagram.

 

About Suzanne

Suzanne Woods Fisher writes bestselling, award winning fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish for Revell Books. Her interest in the Plain People began with her Old Order German Baptist grandfather, raised in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne's app, Amish Wisdom, delivers a daily Amish proverb to your phone or iPad. She writes a bi-monthly column for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine. She lives with her family in California and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne's way of thinking, you can't take life too seriously when a puppy is running through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth.

Comments

  1. I thank you for your gift to your fans last Friday. I have this book downloaded to my Kindle fire and I’m so looking forward to reading it very soon. The cover looks inviting.
    As for last minute Christmas rush I usually start out early in my preparation. I start Christmas cards in October. Then in November I’m usually writing notes for them. I end up having my cards done up by end of November but don’t send out till around 10th of December.
    Pretty well all is ready except the gift wrap. I can’t put wrapped gifts under the tree ahead of time because I have 2 cats of a curious nature who also think that every wrapped gift belongs to them. So unless I want to rewrap gifts I close them up in a room out of reach of my furry friends.
    Merry Christmas
    Shirley