Making the Ordinary Extraordinary!

Being Satisfied with Simple

shed-481151_1920As we approach the Christmas and New Year season, I have been asking myself this question: What is the best gift we can give our children and ourselves?

Can I be honest? This is the time of the year when the “must-do’s” raise their heads to attack me. We must decorate, must make fall cookies (OK – so we missed that one already!), must make our gingerbread house village, must get Christmas PJ’s, and we must get “perfect” gifts for teachers, family and friends, and attend all events. To top it all, I must make special memories for my children and students, and help others in need as well. Does this feel familiar? How’s your heart rate doing as you read this? Would you like to go on vacation right about now?

After about eight years with children, we were so exhausted with the season from after Thanksgiving to Christmas that we decided that we just had to simplify. We were determined to truly enjoy the journey. What does this look like for a family of six? First we set a limit to the number of gifts each child receives from us (if you have “giving grandparents,” adjust for that factor!). Just start somewhere and reduce it each year! Next, we established the “Secret Sibling” gifting tradition. Each child draws a sibling’s name and they are responsible for secretly encouraging, praying and, finally, gifting that sibling. This may not work for others, but it really helped us to reduce the 12 gifts that we had to “assist” our four children to purchase or make.

You know, it is actually quite challenging to NOT give your child everything they want – in reality, not just in theory. It takes effort to learn to be satisfied with simple. Can I be frank about what I discovered? We are the ones that have set the standards for the expectations, or, we have inadvertently allowed it to be set for us. Then we worry about attitudes of entitlement. It is so hard to say NO to myself for “good” things for others. A wise friend likes to say that “good is often the enemy of best.” How poignantly true… In our concern to do all the “good” things, we miss out on the “best” things.

So what is “best”?

Perhaps “best” is being able to have the time to sit and snuggle with loved ones. Perhaps “best” is letting the children decide which favorite holiday tradition to do as a family, and omitting the others. Perhaps “best” could be forgoing gifts in exchange for adopting a needy family’s wish list. For my piano teacher friends, perhaps “best” is taking a break from contest deadlines and teaching our students holiday lead sheet assignments. Perhaps “best” is taking the time to be fully “present” in the moment.

When I survey the hustle and bustle of the season (and some of it IS fun!), I am reminded that the original setting for the season was a simple one. Think about it… What can get much simpler than a stable? The “reason for the season” was born in simplicity. And where there’s simplicity, there’s a good chance there’s contentment. Simplicity and contentment – such rare and precious gifts.


Letting Go…


Let’s start at the very “end” – a very good place to start!


  1. Melinda Goodwin

    My sweet friend: You spoke right to my heart with this one. I will spare you the details of our more-hectic-than-normal Christmas seasons this year and last. I will renew my efforts to simplify and make sure my family actually cares about all of the stuff we usually do! (They have already let me know that decorations are not a priority. ) You are my hero, raising your children so beautifully…and here I am with only 2!

    • Two can be like four depending on what kind of “two” you have – seriously! Plus, the more children you have, the sooner you hit your natural limit before a breakdown. Ha! 🙂 Keep persevering and remember that “less is more.” Love ya!

  2. Chelsie

    Love this and love you!😘❤️❌⭕️❌⭕️

  3. Heather Butler

    Wow! This is right where I long to be. I am trying to be so intentional this year – so your post is very timely & encouraging!

    • It’s taken me 10 more years (my oldest is now 18) to whittle things down to the most meaningful essentials, but it is SO worth it. And it might encourage you to know that I tried to be pretty minimal and strategic from the start. The problem is that when your kids are very little, there are some outside factors that you may not take into consideration (like family, friends, etc.) and then you are stuck with a pattern of expectation. Keep on being intentional, beautiful lady!

  4. Sara Barravechia

    Love this, Chee-hwa ! Great arrticle!

  5. Amen.

  6. Judy Ditmarsen

    Wonderful thoughts, much to think about

  7. Jen Jacobsen

    I absolutely LOVE THIS!!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!! I really identified with the line “You know, it is actually quite challenging to NOT give your child everything they want – in reality, not just in theory. It takes effort to learn to be satisfied with simple..” I will let this marinade a bit 🙂

  8. Suzanne

    Thank you for sharing! I appreciate your wisdom and am thankful for your influence in my life as a Godly mama!!

  9. Tiffiny

    Thank you for this and being an example of being so intentional this time of year. I really appreciate your wise friends comment of “good is often the enemy of best.” Such truth in those words, but also a challenge for me to ponder over.

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