Balancing Materialism and Simplicity

How Christmas Messes With Your Mind

Melissa Gouty
5 min readDec 20, 2019


Photo by Anton Scherbakov on Unsplash

My friend said last night that she hated the Christmas season because it is just TOO much. It is overwhelming to walk into a store where everything is promoted as the perfect gift. Where glitz and glitter rain from above and everyone is worried about pricing and spending and finding bargains.

I think she may be right.

Christmas carols chime in my head these days. I walk around humming tunes about bells, blizzards, and jolly old St. Nick. Some days, I even belt out familiar Christmas melodies as I run around, always harried and hurried, to finish the holiday tasks. But deep below those surface songs, a counter-melody is warring, fighting to be heard.

“Tis the gift to be simple;
’tis the gift to be free.
’Tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when you find yourself in the place just right,
‘T’will be in the valley of love and delight.”

Materialism versus simplicity

Every year it’s the same old thought. “Why am I so consumed with material gifts? Why can’t I just embrace a simpler, saner approach?”

It’s hard to be sane when the society around you is going nuts, always focused on buying more, spending more, selling more. Faster delivery, longer hours, and MORE of everything.

It’s almost ridiculous. (Or maybe it’s not ridiculous for the wealthy of the world, but for middle-class folks on a budget, the push toward pricey, impractical gifts is ridiculous.) Take, for instance, some of the examples I’ve seen advertised in catalogs and t.v.

  • A husband and wife secretly buy each other vehicles. Give me a break. How many couples do you know have the financing and finesse to go out and make major purchases like that without consulting each other?
  • How about a wrought-iron tree to hang ornaments on? Advertised as an “immediate conversation piece,” it costs hundreds of dollars. (Ornaments not included, of course.) Nothing says welcome home for the holidays like hard, metal branches, you know.
  • A cocktail table adapted from a New England work sled is “beautifully crafted and weds the skills of the blacksmith to those of the woodworker…



Melissa Gouty

Writer, teacher, speaker, and observer of human nature. Content for HVAC & Plumbing Businesses. Author of The Magic of Ordinary. LiteratureLust and GardenGlory.