Minimalism: Make Room for What Matters
The holiday season is upon us, and with it a sense of giddy anticipation in the air for the joys to come. The twinkling lights, the jolly music, the comforting seasonal smells of cinnamon, pumpkin, and evergreen branches – all of these tangible signs invite each of us to a deeper experience of joy and togetherness more than any other time of the year. For the secular, these signs point towards the joys of family, food, and giving and receiving gifts. For the religious, these signs point to all of this and more; they point to the joy of our Savior’s birth.
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the secular, consumerist Christmas experience during the holiday season, but as Christians, we are called to experience something more; we are called to the joyful anticipation and reception of our newborn king. A great temptation that we face as Christians during the holiday season is to focus too much on the material goods, but as great as the music, the lights, and the food are, Christ is far greater. So how can we make room for what truly matters this holiday season? How can we make room for our newborn Savior?
About this time last year, my husband and I welcomed our own infant and not long after her birth, we decided to move across town to be closer to my husband’s work so that he could spend less time commuting and more time at home with us. The difficulties of the moving process made me horrifyingly aware of the problematic attachment I had developed to material objects. It took more than a week to pack up, haul, and unload all of our stuff and my newborn daughter protested our busyness every step of the way. The more we focused on our stuff and getting it in order, the more she cried out for our love and attention.
After the dust settled, I knew that we had to make a serious lifestyle change, and so I decided to embrace minimalism. Throughout this last year, I slowly purged all of our excess belongings, donating them whenever possible to friends and neighbors in need. It was a difficult process at first both physically and emotionally, but with every box and bag I parted with, I received a greater and greater sense of joy and freedom. Since embracing minimalism, my daily life has become much more efficient and our home is tidy and open to guests almost 100% of the time, but most importantly, my relationship with God has ascended to new heights as I spend far more time in prayer now than I ever have before.
This holiday season, I invite you to try out minimalism in order to make room for what matters most. Although minimalism, in and of itself, does not completely sanctify us - we must, like Christ, also practice true spiritual poverty - it’s a good place to start. Three practical recommendations for practicing minimalism this holiday season: 1) start small by paring down your wardrobe or your kitchen cupboards and donating the excess to the poor and needy, 2) avoid shopping for yourself unless absolutely necessary, and 3) see if you can donate a portion of the gifts your receive at Christmas to others.
This Christmas, the newborn Christ beckons you with His infant cries and, more than anything, He desires your love and affection. Carve out a manger in your heart for him by clearing away all attachment to material objects. Through this detachment, a more fulfilling attachment to our Lord will take its place and you will discover the true joy of Christmas.
Cirra is a wife, a mother, and an alum of Oregon State (2015) and the OSU Newman Center (2013-2015). Apart from her life as a stay at home mom, she also works as a graphic designer and web/social media editor for St. Mary's Catholic Church. In her free time, she enjoys writing for her blog (cirrasclouds.wordpress.com) and speaking at high school and college ministry events.