I have a confession to make. If you know me in real life, you probably already know this—holidays (Christmas in particular) are not my thing. There are aspects of this season I appreciate and enjoy, but for the most part, it produces more stress than it’s worth. Decorating, shopping, spending too much money, wrapping gifts, traveling, extra church events, Christmas parties… so many things to remember! Some people love it, but I just don't think I'm built for holidays. Overall, the last months of the year feel like a marathon of insanity that seem to always end in tension and tears.
Every year when people start talking about Christmas (right after Halloween—that's why I'm sending this out now instead of halfway through December), I resolve that THIS is the year I will LOVE Christmas like a normal person! I will do it! I will bake goodies and listen to Christmas music and enjoy decorating! I’ll go at it from the spiritual angle! I’ll pick out a signature wrapping paper and make gift wrapping an art!
Yep... every single year, I try my hardest to muster up enough hype, cheer and spiritual fervor to ride the wave of sugar-and-adrenaline-fueled energy to the finish line until we make it to my favorite holiday, New Year’s Eve.
But this year, I’m looking ahead to the holidays and not feeling nearly as stressed or anxious. Why is that? I’m realizing my issues were really not entirely Christmas’ fault. The amount of stress I’ve historically experienced during this season was a symptom of an all-year sickness: a false belief that the path to a meaningful life required MORE. More friends! More involvement! More service projects! More work! More money! More traditions! More gifts!
Turns out, that’s not true. An already chronically stressed, over scheduled, overcommitted people pleaser cannot survive the holidays without dropping some of her many spinning plates.
It took me 30 years to figure it out, but apparently, I only have two arms. 🤷♀️ I can only hold up two plates at a time. And finally, that’s what I’m doing. Currently, in my non-holiday life, I’m only holding two plates instead of 20—so I’ve got a clear head and a rested spirit heading into December.
Friends, I'll keep it short and sweet this week...
A simplified approach to life can yield a calmer, more enjoyable holiday season. Some “nos” can allow you to say “yes” to what matters this year. Looking ahead to December, I’ve personally taken some steps to DO LESS at Christmas this year so I can enjoy it MORE.
- Don’t enjoy or can't afford decorating? DON’T DO IT! No one cares! I made a felt tree for Julia and might get a table-top tree. We don’t have space for a big one and don’t have enough ornaments to decorate one anyway, so we aren’t doing it. We’ll do a big tree next year when she’s old enough to enjoy it.
- Feeling overwhelmed about shopping for all 87 siblings and their spouses and kids? Initiate a Secret Santa or Dirty Santa gift swap! Guess what? Everyone else will be relieved, too!
- Want to add some actual meaning to the season? Establish a tradition that means something to YOU! So far this year, we have watched Rudolph and ate homemade popcorn on the sofa, and I made these adorable Advent ornaments to go with Julia’s felt tree (see Helpful Happies). I’m loving it!
- Don’t want to spend your month leaving your kids with sitters so you can run to different parties and events? It’s REALLY OK to say no to the ones you don’t want to or just can’t attend.
- Want to host a holiday party with just a few people, but don’t want to make others feel left out? Don’t post pics on Instagram! Enjoy your evening!
So IF this season stresses you like it does me, here are some things to consider (if it doesn't, don't let me bring you down 😜).
What are your specific stressors? What are you doing from a place of obligation rather than enjoyment? Do any of your traditions exist simply to impress or appease others? What do your kids and spouse actually enjoy about the holidays? Are we doing it for the kids or doing it for the 'gram? 🤣 😉 And of course, for my fellow procrastinators... how can we plan ahead?
I have a great feeling about this holiday season for our family, and I can’t wait to experience a quieter, more simple Christmas. If you're traditionally overwhelmed like me, I hope you can find your sweet spot, too. If you love the hustle and bustle of Christmas, keep doing your thing, girl!