Holiday Trimming

Cut back on the fuss to find the season's real joys

'Tis the season--and it has been since October The 12 days of Christmas have overflowed into three months, unleashing the holiday spirit and its attendant commercial blitz well before Halloween. Whether one celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or something else, those who haven't composed laundry lists of gifts and begun to deck the halls by November are considered downright Scroogish.

Bah, humbug, says Cori Pursell, 45, a mother of two from Overland Park, Kans. For the past six years, she and her husband have made a concerted effort to rein in the holiday hoopla. "Rather than focus on the shopping calendar of...

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