Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Less Holiday Hassle and More Christmas Calm

This week’s post is supposed to be about keeping calm and peaceful during the holidays. Maybe that’s an unrealistic goal, but I do believe it’s a worthy one. In light of the past week’s events, perhaps it’s something more of us may strive for this year. 

Most of the pressure we feel at the holidays is expectations we put on ourselves. We want to create a perfect holiday. But sometimes we’re so busy pursuing that perfect holiday that we never get to enjoy it. Here are my suggestions.

  1. You don’t need to bake every Christmas cookie your mother did. I pursued this at one point in our family history. And you know what? I’m the one who ended up eating all those cookies and berating myself for it. The kids don’t like the ones with nuts on them anyway. Pick a couple everyone likes and stick with that. Or – don’t make any at all! Or better yet – let your kids do the baking (and cleaning up). 

  1. You don’t need to put up every holiday decoration you own, every year. Tone down the chaos and pressure a little. You can put everything up 'next year.' And if someone misses a particular decoration, direct them to the appropriate storage bin or shelf. At the end of the holidays make a separate box of all the decorations you don't really like. Mark it "Goodwill Holidays 2013". Next year, without opening it, take it directly to Goodwill. I finally remembered to do that last year and this year it felt awesome to show up at Goodwill with the box (actually boxes!). Decorating was simpler because I wasn't making faces at the things I always put up but never enjoyed. 

  1. Cut down on presents. No one needs all the stuff we give them. A few good gifts are much better than a ton of meaningless ones. And anything you run out to buy desperately from Rite Aid two days before Christmas most likely is not something anyone will want. I remember sending my husband on such a mission many Christmas Eves ago when I had finally finished wrapping and realized one of the kids have far fewer presents than the others. It was Rite Aid or the grocery store – everything else was closed. (These days that’s probably not the case, but I’d still avoid the last minute panic shop.) 

  1. Give stuff that doesn’t need to be wrapped – experiences and gift certificates can go in a nice card. If it comes down to the wire and you haven’t got a gift ready to go, create a coupon for an experience like a hike + lunch (for a friend) or a movie night with five friends at our house (for your kids). Most people will enjoy time with you more than anything you might buy and wrap. 

  1. If you need to wrap – used reusable wrap to make next year easier. See my post on this one. It truly revolutionized wrapping in this household. 

  1. Make time for quiet. I know you’re busy. I know your kids are noisy. I know you’re exhausted. But find five minutes of quiet to reflect each day. A great place to do this is in a dark room with a lighted Christmas Tree. Or outside. Or with an animal in your lap. Or standing in your children’s room while they are sleeping. Call it investing in Christmas Spirit. I promise it will make Christmas feel more like Christmas. 

  1. Make time for your kids. Read a Christmas book (even if they’re big kids – they’ll probably still love being read to). Ask them what holiday activity happened at school today. Go for a walk, shoot baskets, play music with them. Just be with them. Kids have more down time at the holidays. Take advantage of this. Your presence is the best present. 

  1. Enjoy your holiday food. Let go of the guilt. Make a moratorium on stressing over calories. Enjoy a Christmas cookie – slowly, savoring it. Don’t do anything else except eat that cookie. Or sip some eggnog. Yeah, I know it has sixzillion calories, but this is the only time of year you drink it. Even better – warm it up and add Bailey’s! Focus on the taste, the extravagance, and the sheer pleasure – or don’t eat it at all. 

  1. Sleep more. Go to bed earlier. Take a nap. Close your eyes for five minutes (not while you’re driving). Rest your soul. This is the darkest time of the year. If you were a bear, you’d be burrowed in your cave, so give in to your body’s natural inclination to sleep more and – sleep more! 

  1. Exercise every day. I know, I know. But do something. It’ll relieve stress, keep your guilt in check (remember how you’re savoring those cookies?), and give you energy. You need this. Make it a priority, even if it’s only ten minutes. Can’t find a parking place at the mall – perfect opportunity to get some exercise. Kids making you nuts? Take a time out on the treadmill or put on your sneakers and go for a hike. If nothing else, make more trips up and down the stairs.

 The holidays are a rich time of year. But it can also be a stressful time of year. Let go of some of that stress this year. Don’t worry so much about how the house looks or the kids look or the number of presents or the perfect holiday. Instead enjoy the holiday you’ve got. Truly enjoy it. Instead of wishing everyone a Happy Holiday, actually have one.
Postscript from previous blog: We decorated our Christmas Cookies with all natural dyes. There was much weeping and gnashing of teeth, but in the end they still looked great and, more importantly, tasted wonderful!

1 comment:

  1. I love your reminders to keep it simple...Keep on reminding us! xoxo