Ah, the holidays! Such a joyful time. Gathering with family, eating delicious food, playing games and laughing. Reflecting on holidays gone by is the best, right? We see them like a highlight reel. Grandma’s famous spice cake she makes once a year, a super fun tacky sweater party a few years ago, and the delight on your children’s faces when they see what Santa left for them on the living room floor. The happy traditions are what we remember the most about the holidays and the things we are desperately trying to recreate every year. That’s where the stress comes in.
I think the holiday season is a lot like childbirth. If you’ve never given birth to a child, let me explain. Childbirth is uncomfortable. Extremely uncomfortable. Painful, even, when you’re in the thick of it. Sometimes the thought may cross your mind that once you get through it, you will never do it again. But then, something happens. The baby gets here and in that special moment all the unpleasantness is wiped away and your left with an idealistic highlight reel of the joy of childbirth. Same with Christmas. It’s stressful, uncomfortable, overwhelming and even downright painful during the season, but come next August we will be waxing poetic about the holiday magic looming ahead.
Do you see where I’m going with this? This past week I asked my She, Confident Community on Facebook what the most stressful, painful parts of the holidays are, and the responses started pouring in! Scheduling time to see everyone they felt obligated to see, picking out perfect gifts for everyone while spending way too much money, packing the calendar with school plays and cookie exchanges and progressive dinners are making the holiday season seem more like work these days and I’m here to say let’s stop the insanity!
So, how are we going to do that? I happen to have a few tips.
- Make a list of all your favorite things about the holiday season. It could be the traditional trip to the tree farm the day after Thanksgiving , a cookie decorating party you host each year, visiting with your family, Christmas eve services at church, plus all of the family or friends you intend to spend time with. Think long and hard about what is most important and then place those events on your calendar. Scratch everything else off the docket. You can say no when you don’t want to go. World keeps spinning, I tried it.
- Spread it all out. You can celebrate a holiday a few weeks early or a few weeks late. Heck, Wal-Mart has had their décor out since August. We’re the ones being sticklers about the date. Let it go. Don’t rush yourself to go 6 different places on Christmas Day. Do something on the 16th!
- Protect your rest. Don’t fill in all the rest of the holes on your calendar because it appears you have free time. That free time is yours to rest and relax and keep yourself well through the season. Hallmark has a Christmas movie channel for a reason. Take 6 hours and binge on warm, magical holiday relationship movies that always end with a kiss under the mistletoe.
- Pare down the gift giving list and slash your gifting budget. Honestly, just do it. Think of one of your most favorite, can’t live without items from the year and order up a bunch of them. Gift them to everyone and tell them why it’s been so useful to you. Last year, I gifted a ton of those fun ‘inside out’ umbrellas and they were all well received. Plus, I got a great deal when I ordered them in bulk. It saved so much time and money, plus I knew I was gifting something useful that wouldn’t be forgotten. Got kiddos? Ask them to name all the gifts they got last year. I’ll wait….. Ok, how many did they remember? Not many, right? Stuff that stocking with underpants and socks and toothpaste and granola bars. No one remembers stocking stuffers anyway and as long as it looks festive it’s fine. Buy them three gifts each- ask them to make a list of three things they really want. My friend Virginia has her kids list three things: something they want, something they need, and something to read. Her kids actually look forward to this tradition! Imagine that!
Holiday traditions are handed down through the generations but so is holiday stress and anxiety. Don’t commit to anything just because you think you ‘should’ or because that’s the way it’s ‘always been.’ If nothing changes, nothing changes and sometimes change is a real good thing.
Mindy Boyd is the wife of Blake and mom to Lainey (14) and Luke (11.) She lives in Summit, MS and is currently building an online community of women seeking more self-confidence, stronger friendships, and a happier, more fulfilling life. Check out her website sheconfidentsite.com or listen to The She Confident Podcast wherever you prefer to stream.