Celebrate Love not Things: Simple ways to approach Christmas differently

I am an Austrian living in the United States and I love Christmas. Yet, the Christmas I grew up with in Austria is very different from the Christmas I experience now in Colorado.

At home, all of December is a time of peace, quiet and serenity. You spend time with your friends and loved ones, eat and bake cookies, drink Glühwein (spiced vine) at the Christkindlmarkt (the typical Austrian Christmas markets). The emphasis for my family for Christmas was always love and spending time with one another and dear friends. Presents, shopping, and consuming large meals were simply not that important and were absolutely secondary. I feel like it is time to remember that Christmas should be more about love and less about things. 

Here are some suggestions on how to take a different approach to celebrating Christmas:

  • Set yourself limits 

Don’t let yourself get caught in the shopping frenzy that starts right after Thanksgiving. If you want to purchase presents, write down a number that you feel comfortable with spending for the holidays. Then, make another list of absolute must-buys and stick to it. 

  • Instead of presents, give personal time

Think about how you can spend quality time with your friend and loved ones instead of giving them presents. Reach out to your friends and invite them for nature walks, lunches, head to yoga together or meet up for coffee or tea at your house and catch up in front of a cozy fire.

  • Less is more!

December is a month of indulgence. Financially and also culinary. The offerings of cookies, chocolate, cider are endless and all the overindulgence simply adds to the stress we sometimes experience before and after Christmas. Think about fasting for a day, abstaining from eating sugar and drinking caffeine. It helps to keep a clear mind and remember that Christmas is really a time of love and peace. 

  • Get a live Christmas Tree

As I said, I love Christmas and I love having a tree in my living room. But on the other hand, every year millions of living trees get cut down and then die slowly in our living rooms. Make the conscious decision to purchase a living tree that comes in a pot. After Christmas, you can then return the tree and it will get re-planted. Google living trees and you will be astonished what you can find in your neighborhood. 

  • Escape the craziness and treat yourself to a Meditation Retreat 

Probably the most drastic idea. If you definitely can’t leave your family over Christmas, think about New Years or right after the holidays to escape. A silent meditation or yoga retreat are great getaways and allow you to connect to your heart to experience a deep, inner peace. It is ok to allow yourself a break from consumerism and focus on what is important to you. 

Barbara Glanznig (RYT-500) is a Telluride based Ashtanga Yoga practitioner and founder of Elevated Retreat. She studies the traditional Ashtanga Yoga method under the guidance of certified Ashtanga Yoga instructor Annie Pace and travels annually to Mysore, India to practice at the Sri K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute. Additionally, Barbara studies Sanskrit, Indian Philosophy, Ayurveda and plays the Indian harmonium. In Telluride she teaches private and group classes and furthermore, runs yoga retreats worldwide. For more details, visit her website: www.elevatedretreat.com