The One Thing I Would Change About Christmas


Just as soon as we pulled up to our camp site from our trip back to NC for Thanksgiving, by the bright and cheery looks of our camper it was definitely officially the Christmas season! I have always loved this time of year. Everything just seems brighter and more joyful at Christmastime. Besides, I love anything that gives excuses to decorate, eat good food and hang out with those I love.

20131203-103715.jpgMaybe I’m a bit of a sap, but I’m definitely a sucker for all of the magic that the Christmas season brings! Hunting down the perfect tree, decorating, making salt dough ornaments and drinking hot chocolate with my kids while listening to Christmas music – I’m a huge fan of Christmastime!

All except for one thing…

20131203-103623.jpg The stuff.

Don’t get me wrong, who doesn’t enjoy the joy on their children’s faces as they frantically tear into carefully selected gifts on Christmas morning, believing Santa definitely came this year? I do too.

Even our kids got back to the camper and got straight to work making their lists to mail to the North Pole, still there is a silent part of me that wishes that none of it was about the gifts at all.

20131203-103654.jpgHow odd it is that the entire month following a day to be Thankful for all that we have is spent deliberating what more things we can buy. Over the past few days post Thanksgiving, I’ve found myself wishing we could just hang onto all that came with Thanksgiving and carry it straight into the Christmas holidays, adding nothing more than holiday music, trees and a few lights.

My side of the family decided not to exchange gifts at all this year. And honestly, I breathed a huge sigh of relief realizing I couldn’t be more excited about the freedom to get together for feasts with those I love without the complication and pressure on us all over “the stuff hunt”.

Sometimes gift giving feels more like a ridiculous form of money swap that threatens to take our attention off all the things that truly matter, giving it away to all of the plastic, shiny objects that will likely have been forgotten by next year and will surely never matter at all in the end.

I’ve had a few ask me what I would like for Christmas this year, and I have struggled to give an answer. Because I truly can’t think of one single thing that would add anything significant to my life.

If I could, if there is one thing I would change about Christmas, it is the unspoken loss we experience in our endless quest for gain.


Call me a Scrooge or a Grinch – but it is no secret to those who know me well that it wouldn’t hurt my feelings one single bit if we all just did away with the whole gift giving thing completely.

But we don’t….because I think we all sort of unintentionally get sucked into the trap of  just doing what we’ve always done, or what we feel like we should because everyone else does.

What we don’t realize is that our culture has programmed our minds towards materialism, which oddly enough is the one thing that steals everything that is good from our lives.

We have exchanged financial freedom & the time to invest in our families for the stuff of landfills.

But I’m willing to bet that if most of us were completely honest, we would love to be free to imagine the possibility that this season could be a bit more simple and light. Less about material gain and more about all of the only things that ever really mattered in the first place.

This is the one thing I would change about the most perfectly wonderful holiday ever.

Own less, live fully, travel light.


About Rachel Rowell

A true southern gal at heart, Rachel was raised and lives in the deep south and spends her days raising her own babies, writing, making music, reading out on the front porch, and cooking supper for her family to sit around the table and enjoy together at nights! Her ultimate girlhood dream was to raise a family in a house just like "Anne of Green Gables" and now she is living her dream and inspiring others along the way.

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11 Responses to The One Thing I Would Change About Christmas

  1. Deborah F. December 3, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

    I’m so agree; Christmas is more about “show & tale” (which can puts others in a awkward position), then comes the stress from the debt, for it to all start again in 336 days. My husband & I decided to give money in exchanged for unused/unwanted gifts for our teenagers (now grown) but even that started to not make sense – exchange $ for $. Definitely just prefer a nice meal, share stories, and build memories without all the stress and financial drain. May your Christmas season be bright!

  2. Joe Mann December 3, 2013 at 8:01 pm #

    Rachael, you are totally on point. The “reason for the season” has totally been lost in our culture. Our family has minimized the gift giving, but because we are all over the country, even the smallest thing is a huge hassle to buy,package and ship. I have thought for a while, “why do we do this to ourselves?”
    If only for a moment everyone should pause from the madness of the “retail experience” and give thanks again for all the abundance we share of life.

  3. Joyce Inman December 3, 2013 at 11:42 pm #

    Like you, Rachel, I would gladly give up the shopping and gift-giving, except to help the needy. I am totally happy at Christmas when I can decorate a bit, cook some of our favorite foods, sing and worship with my church family, and spend extra time with my husband, children, parents, and our extended families.

  4. Keith Seymour December 4, 2013 at 12:49 am #

    I couldn’t agree more. My wife and I did the same as you, selling everything and moving into an RV in November of 2011. We’ve been on the road since and have loved it. Trading stuff for experiences has been wonderful. We dispensed with gift giving years before and now it’s nice to be able to relax and enjoy the holiday.

  5. Ann Severi December 4, 2013 at 7:34 am #

    Rachel: We are, like you, a family of travelers. We have traveled with our three daughters all of their lives, including a trip to Taiwan where we taught English in the Chinese classrooms. When the girls were young, I decided that I wanted to start our very own Christmas tradition. This is what you should do too. Find a tradition that is unique with your family. I wanted to chose a tradition that I had never seen anyone else do. So when they were 1,3, and 5, we started our tradition of reading Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol. We started on Thanksgiving day, and ended it on Christmas day. On Christmas the book went away, even if we had not finished. I wasn’t concerned so much with getting through the book, but more of sharing something with them. Interacting, cuddling on the couch under a warm blanket, giggling over, what we saw, as funny jokes, and sniffling over the sad parts. Then the next year we started over again. It was amazing. The girls loved it, and we do it even to this day. The first couple of years I spent a lot of time explaining the meanings of difficult words, but I wasn’t worried about finishing it. Starting the third year, and every year since, we made it all the way through the story, and it got them ready for Shakespeare, Austen, Bronte, and Dante. They are now 17, 19, and soon to be 21. We still travel, and read books, both together, Dad is reading Dante with the youngest right now, and on our own. I envy you, at the beginning of your travels. Have fun, be safe, and stay close to your family.

    Ann Severi

  6. Judi Bell December 5, 2013 at 11:44 am #

    I agree with you. This is a stressful time of year for so many because they think they have to spend so much money on gifts, etc. and many can’t afford it. But, it would be nice to just enjoy the season and be thankful for what we have and spend time with family.

  7. Laura-n-Sasha December 7, 2013 at 7:49 pm #

    Thanks for the article, I enjoyed it. While I do not do as much decorating as you, we had removed ourselves from the gift giving for the most part.

  8. Cindy Brown (@hiyacynthia) December 8, 2013 at 5:55 am #

    I think we were separated at birth. Agree with everything you’re saying here, Rachel!

  9. Cuckoo's Nest West December 24, 2013 at 1:27 am #

    I love this. Totally agree! While, I haven’t made the strides you have, every year I think we get closer to enjoying the Holidays minus the guilt associated with excessive debt and STUFF!

  10. SohCrates June 25, 2015 at 10:25 am #

    We stopped the madness years ago- we informed all family and friends that we were no longer participating in the stuff part of Xmas. With a few exceptions no one had any issue and most were supportive. Like most everything, it can be done there is just a bit of an uncomfortable phase in the transition 🙂 We’ve chosen to keep life super lite(no kids,pets) so I can’t say how that factor would affect our decision. Probably better to just never start than to break it off after kids are used to it ha!


  1. Shopping Local - Cuckoo's Nest West - December 24, 2013

    […] We have exchanged financial freedom & the time to invest in our families for the stuff of landfills. – Living Light Blog […]

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