At a party, I listened to a man tell a story about a Christmas Eve in his house. The brother and sister were getting ready for bed, and they suddenly remembered that they should put out cookies and milk for Santa and ran into the kitchen to accomplish the task.

When Daddy asked, "Why aren't you in bed?" they replied, "We're getting cookies and milk for Santa!"

Unfortunately, Dad replied, "Oh, no! Santa likes chocolate pie!"

They ran crying to their mother, who didn't want to spoil her children's Christmas, and consoled them by baking a chocolate pie for Santa Claus!

You're probably not surprised to learn that marriage didn't last!

Before they rush off to bed this Christmas Eve, many kids will go through rituals related to Santa, reindeer, and elves. The following morning they will rush to the tree to open presents without mentioning Jesus, the reason for the Season.

God blessed me with parents who kept Santa at arm's length because they didn't want us to obsess over the North Pole when we should focus on Bethlehem. A ceramic ornament with Santa kneeling beside baby Jesus in the manger illustrates their philosophy.

Steven Porter wrote, "The reason I reflect fondly these days on how my mom and Dad did Christmas has relatively little to do with religion or spirituality. Their approach was motivated primarily by their religious views, but it produced a secular side effect. While friends were taught to mind their manners so some white-bearded stranger would deem them gift-worthy under his naughty-or-nice meritocracy, my sister and I were taught from the get-go that holiday gifts as a Christmas tradition have always been about who we are to each other."

That brings up what some people consider the arduous task of gift-giving. I pray for you this Christmas season that you will find a way you can give gifts joyfully and intentionally -- and without adding physical or emotional clutter to your life or theirs!

My mother initiated one very creative idea many years ago, and I have carried out variations ever since. A friend of hers, Margaret Furlong, is an artist who made beautiful porcelain angels in various price ranges. The one she gave me will hang on my Christmas tree again this year!

Some years I have chosen a few books for various ages and gifted them with a note saying that if they are not interested in the book or they finish reading it, to pass it on, so it doesn't become clutter!

Perhaps the best possible gift of all is the gift of your time! It could be an invitation to breakfast, tea -- or even a phone call!

Author's Bio: 

In 1978, Barbara took out a $7 ad in a New York City newspaper to advertise her professional organizer business. For 20 years, she focused her business on organizing paper and physical clutter for home offices and organizations. Then the Internet Age came about, and she utilized her principles and expertise to help clients with digital clutter.

Over the past 40+ years Barbara has helped 1000's of companies, and became an icon and top expert in the industry. She has been featured on national media platforms such as Good Morning America, The Today Show and CNN Nightly News. She has also been showcased in publications including USA Today, New York Times, Fast Company, Reader’s Digest, Real Simple and Guideposts.

Barbara and her team teach business owners a 9-step system to go from overwhelmed to optimized. Step 1 is a free Assessment that can be found at