Every holiday season I say I am going to scale down and engage in a sort of Voluntary Simplicity Christmas. What a perfect way to then segue into the Voluntary Simplicity Life! In true fashion, I have a list in my mind of the perfect Voluntary Simplicity goddess who does all things perfect when it comes to Voluntary Simplicity. The Voluntary Simplicity goddess grows her own food, wears only recycled clothing, makes homemade gifts, bakes her own bread, drives a vegetable oil fueled car, and somehow escapes any feelings of tension or stress due to her mindfulness throughout the day. There is a reason, of course, this person has been labeled a goddess! Most of us are mucking about in the real world and doing the best we can with what we have. Grandiose Visions of instantly (!!) making our lifestyles more simple are impossible.

Luckily, over the years, my faith journey has pointed me towards the real world of imperfection and the abundance of grace. And so now I approach the idea of voluntary simplicity with less visions of perfection and excellence and more with measured, hopeful steps.

What is voluntary simplicity? Well, I think of it as a way for folks who are privileged to look at their lifestyles and standards of living and re-assess if the standard of living indeed reflects the kind of Life one wants to be living.

Especially in this season, shopping for “stuff” is ruling our airtime, our visual culture, and our wallets. Now is the time to reveal the face of the Grinch that is stealing Christmas.

Watch this video about “The Story of Stuff” with Annie Leonard.  It is worth the time and worth sending to your loved ones for the holiday season.

Emerson tells us “A person will worship something.” And in this season, the false god can become, of course, consumerism. I grew up with a secular Christmas. Church pageants were merely for entertainment. Christmas Carols were beautiful to sing, but the words meant nothing. In many ways, I am still struggling with how to reclaim Christmas as a Unitarian Universalist. The approach of voluntary simplicity is one way to re-imagine the hope and warmth of the season as it pertains to a future in which resources are shared and love has no price tag or item attached.