How not to save time this Christmas

Not so simple
photo courtesy flickr user jayneandd

(MoneyWatch) It's a truism of modern life that we are all starved for time. We're crazy busy, rushing around and pulled in 10 directions at once. We teeter on the edge of madness, right?

Well, not really. There are 168 hours in a week. If you work 40 and sleep 8 per night, that leaves 72 hours for other things. If you work 55, and sleep 8 per night, that leaves 57 hours for other things -- more time than you're working. And if you think you work much more than that, there's some fascinating research finding that you're probably wrong. Americans spend nowhere near 57 hours per week interacting with their children, or doing housework, or exercising. So that suggests that plenty of us have more time than we think.

That's why I'm always puzzled by the host of ebooks, articles and TV segments that appear around this time each year telling us how to simplify Christmas. I guess if your image of modern life is that we're all channeling Martha Stewart on a regular basis, then perhaps you'd need to simplify. But the reason Martha Stewart is famous is that no one is actually like her. Most of us spend a lot of time watching people like Martha Stewart on TV instead.

Which means that we have no reason to simplify our lives come December. Sure, you could not bake with your kids because it's a hassle. You could not visit the aquarium to see Scuba Santa, or take in the garden railway display at the local arboretum. You could skip the church services and the holiday parties, and cancel your usual volunteer commitments because December is so crazy busy. You could not bother to think through what kind of gift would delight your niece, and you could not participate in the secret Santa pool because who has time to pick up an extra little something this holiday season?

You do, that's who. Because let's put it this way: What are you saving your energy for? This is it. This is life, and my guess is that in the years at the end of your life, you won't be looking back saying "Wow, I went to too many parties and baked cookies too often with my kids." The experiencing self can get a bit weary, but the remembering self wants more memories, rather than fewer. There will be plenty of time to do nothing in January. Or February. Or most months because, when we're honest, we're not nearly as busy as we often claim to be.

Are you simplifying Christmas? Why or why not?

Photo courtesy flickr user jayneandd