“The Christmas season has just started and I’m already behind.”
“The holidays are so stressful. I’m constantly baking.”
“I love Christmas, I just wish that this time of year wasn’t so overwhelming.”
The holidays are stressful, that’s what you keep hearing, right?
They don’t have to be. I promise.
Growing up, I watched the women in my family and the community trying to be all things to all people; never was this more true than during the holidays. From baking to gift wrapping to perfect hair to coordinated outfits … no detail was too small to ignore and hardly a moment went by when these women weren’t working trying to make sure everything was perfect for everyone.
Now as an adult I understand what a massive task that was. While I will always appreciate their effort, I am most definitely not following in their footsteps.
When you try to be all things to all people, what you are really doing is cheating yourself out of happiness and peace.
I want to celebrate the meaning of the season and enjoy my family. This means letting go of a lot of “responsibilities” and “must-do’s” that seem to tie up so many others and make this time of year be frazzled and stressful.
And I do so without any guilt or shame. How?
To start, I’ve got five kids. Right there that’s no less than 25 teachers, a dozen coaches, countless parties, Sunday school instructors, etc. If I added up all of the people affiliated with my kids that I’m “supposed” to bake cookies for or give gifts to, I’d never have time to breath let alone enjoy myself.
Even if I didn’t have any children, this season is full of obligations…parties, gift and cookie exchanges, Secret Santa this or that, party invitations around every corner, etc. It’s all too much.
Here’s the key- everyone has to draw the line somewhere; I just chose to draw mine at a place that allows me to slow down and really soak in all that is wondrous about the season.
So while people all around me are trying to DO STUFF, I pick the things that matter most to me and do them. That’s it. Here they are, in no particular order:
- Starting the day after Thanksgiving, my family begins decorating. One thing per day. Sometimes it’s a big thing, other times it’s littler. Often it’s a house or three from our massive collection. The boys love watching the Christmas village evolve. (A bit of perspective on the Christmas village collection? It’s all from Goodwill and Thrift stores because kids break delicate things!) It’s a simple tradition and we all enjoy it immensely.
- We put up our trees. Yes, TREES. Plural. On Christmas morning we have a grand total of five trees in our home. The ‘grown-up’ tree that’s decorated with our more delicate ornaments, the kid’s tree with the special ornaments they’ve made of the years wrapped in colored lights, and a couple of smaller trees that rotate in the boys’ bedrooms, and then another that inexplicably has cast iron stove as a stand thanks to the boys.
- While most evenings are spent just with our immediate family, we do gather together with a few our closest friends and loved ones throughout the holiday season.
- We do give some gifts, of course. Gifts for the children, gifts for my husband and I, and a few other very special people in our lives are given genuine tokens of our affection.
- We sponsor a child in Ethiopia; making sure she and her family are well cared for only takes a few dollars a month. After visiting with her Mom at her house, it feels extra special to be able to help.
So the next time you sigh with exasperation and stress because you haven’t even ordered your holiday cards yet let alone sent them…remember this. You don’t have to be all things to all people. Just be the best you to the people who matter the most.
So is your holiday season a time of relaxation and joy or is it a time of stress and being overwhelmed?