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Book Jacket

Trade Paperback
272 pages
Aug 2003
Counting the Cost Publications

Celebrate Simply: Your Guide to Simpler, More Meaningful Holidays and Special Occasions

by Nancy Twigg

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt



Have you ever longed for more meaningful holidays? Do you often feel overwhelmed by all the planning and shopping and spending and wrapping and wish that celebrations didn’t have to be so complicated? Do special occasions in your family frequently get out of hand tempting you to opt out completely?

If so, this book is for you. The message of this book is simple: Holidays don’t have to be complex. They don’t have to be stressful. The sentiment of the special day—whether it is Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day—doesn’t have to get lost in the confusion of commercialization. There is another way, a better way. And that is what I want to share in this book.

An Out of Control Holiday Affair

Before we begin, let me share with you a little story. I call it, The Tale of a Holiday Gone Horribly Wrong. This account took place during the Christmas season, although it could have happened during any other holiday or special occasion.

It all started so innocently. The heroine of our story simply wanted to make the holiday something to remember for her family and friends. As a one-woman Christmas machine, she was determined to see that the Yuletide holidays were perfect for everyone that year. Great idea, right?

Wrong! What was meant to be Christmas magic quickly became Christmas mayhem. Her desire to have a wonderful Christmas soon became an obsession with orchestrating the perfect Christmas (if such a holiday even exists). Despite her best intentions, this poor woman’s lofty aspirations siphoned the joy and spiritual significance right out of her family’s holiday season.

Instead of a joyous occasion to look forward to, Christmas became a self-imposed deadline that she had to meet regardless of the personal consequences. By the weekend before Christmas, her family’s Christmas tree was still undecorated because the woman was too busy making presents and planning lavish holiday meals to take time for this treasured family ritual. On the verge of total exhaustion, our heroine resembled a human time bomb ready to blow at any moment. When her poor unsuspecting husband tried to ease the tension by giving her an affectionate hug, she exploded.

“Don’t touch me now. Can’t you see how stressed I am?”

The rest of that awful day was spent in stony silence. All she wanted to do was make it a Christmas to remember, but now it seemed the memories would all be unpleasant. “If this Christmas was supposed to be perfect,” she sulked, “why do I feel so rotten?”

Does this sound familiar? Have you ever been so caught up in the hype and hubbub that the true sentiment and cause for the occasion passed by you completely? I wish I could say the sad story I shared is just a tale I made up to illustrate my point. I also wish I could say the harried heroine is a fictitious character with any likeness to a real person being purely coincidental.

Unfortunately, neither of those statements is true. As much as I hate to admit it, I am the woman who single-handedly almost ruined Christmas for my family one year. I am the woman who made Dr. Seuss’s Grinch look like a nice guy. Alas, I am the one who could have passed for Ebenezer Scrooge’s twin sister.

What Went Wrong?

Oh, my intentions were noble, but my follow-through was pitifully off-kilter and out of whack. As I look back on this event in the Twigg family history, I can see several reasons for this self-inflicted disaster.

 Too much to do with too little time to do it

 Unrealistic expectations of what makes a celebration memorable

 Inordinate emphasis on gifts and food rather than spiritual reflection and quality time with family and friends

We’ll talk more about these contributing factors later, but for now, the point is that my story is not uncommon. What happened in my family one Christmas happens frequently as families everywhere celebrate special occasions. Gift giving gets too expensive; simple family dinners quickly become ten-course meals. Husbands and wives bicker over where to spend the special day: with his parents, her parents, or at home where they both would rather be anyway. Quality family time gets lost in the shuffle and everyone ends up disappointed.

Let me assure you that there is a simpler, more meaningful route to holiday harmony. One that involves less stress and less expense. One that leaves family members exhilarated, not exhausted. I can’t say that my family attains this harmony each and every time or that we never momentarily veer off course. But we have seen a glimpse of a beautifully simple and meaningful way of honoring the special events and seasons in our lives. We’ve crossed over to the simpler side of celebrating. We can joyfully say with full assurance, “Celebrations can be simple! They can be meaningful! They don’t have to be stressful!”

My goal in writing this book is to present you with a treasure trove of ideas you can use to make your own family celebrations closer to what you truly want them to be. If reading these pages leaves you inspired to change the way you celebrate and equipped with new ideas to help you make those changes, Celebrate Simply has fulfilled its mission.  

What You’ll Find in This Book

If you asked one hundred people which holiday or special occasion they find most stressful and taxing, the majority would most likely answer Christmas. If you then asked what aspect of the Christmas season causes the greatest apprehension, the most common answer would probably be gift giving.

With this thought in mind, you will find that the longest chapters in this book deal with simplifying gift giving and the Christmas season. Each additional cause for celebration that is covered is addressed from the standpoint of how to simplify any unique aspects of that particular holiday. Because birthday and anniversary gift giving is something you are likely to do many times throughout the year, I have included a master list of all the gift ideas mentioned in this book in Chapter Nine: Celebrating Birthdays and Anniversaries Simply to serve as a quick reference. And, in case you don’t find specific information on the particular special occasion you want to simplify, an index of holiday stress factors and corresponding page references can be found in Chapter Ten: Conclusion.

        Now on to the simpler side of celebrations...

Reprinted by permission of Counting the Cost Publications