11/20/2013 04:06 pm ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

My Transformation From Grinch to Tiny Tim

Growing up, Christmas was a time of excitement and anticipation. I waited all year to see if I received the gifts I had asked for with such careful thought about the different ways I would put this gift to use, even though it remained untouched, under my bed after February. I always mark my maturity and growth by the kinds of presents I ask for. For example, when I was seven, all I wanted was to receive as many teddy bears as possible. And looking back now, that year I probably obtained at least 10 -- 10 bears that remained uncuddled with. Then the preteen era hit, and I tried to pick more "practical" gifts, such as an embroidery kit. Yes, I literally asked for that one year. What I intended to do with it baffles me today, but it was a time in my life where I wanted to pursue DIY projects and simplicity beings. I've asked for ridiculous things, and practical things, but the worth was not vested in the possession, rather the motive.

When did the new outlook on Christmas begin? I remember being unable to sleep the whole month of December, and now Christmas feels like a big commercialistic stunt that smells like sugar cookie candles. Now, I'm not going to yell "bah humbug" at every person that wishes me a Merry Christmas or asks me if I'd be interested in buying their product as a gift, but there is something within me longing to feel the true meaning of Christmas.

Magazines, television commercials, and social media advocate the idea of a "perfect Christmas," and for a long time, I fell victim to this plot. Having a perfectly lit house full of decorations (that you made yourself, of course, because we all have that time on our hands) and finding the picturesque gift, even for the person that literally did not want anything for Christmas, would bring happiness, right? The answer is no.

After soul-searching and enough frustration, I finally decided how I will celebrate this Christmas. No, it will NOT be planning every detail of the day. No, it will NOT be striving to find a gift for every single person that has ever entered my life. And no, it will NOT be seeking perfection.

This year, I am embracing simplicity by going back to the core of what Christmas is. If it was about giving gifts, what makes it different than a birthday celebration? If it was about having a perfectly decorated house, then why are my friends with bare houses happier than a dog with peanut butter? Christmas is about spending time with people that you are close to, and remembering the good things that have come from this humble life. It is about not getting more, but giving. Christmas is a time to cultivate an attitude of thankfulness, and so I plan on spending the day with my family, in my comfortable pajamas and truly reflecting on my blessings. Christmas is about finding peace in a time of busyness and reflection amidst the noisiness of the season.

Happy Holidays,
Julia Schemmer