The holidays are here and the rat race has begun!
Can you feel the adrenaline in the air? Have you seen the frantic Facebook posts trying to track down the “it” toy of the season? Is your calendar already full to the max with parties, school plays, and get-togethers?
If so, I have a proposition for you:
Simplify the holidays this year.
I know it’s hard to even fathom cutting out any of the gift exchanges, missing a party, or switching your traditions around. We love traditions and the familiarity of this crazy busy time of year. But if we took a step back, let go of some of the “things” and just embraced the simple days of the holiday season, we would enjoy them a whole lot more.
How exactly do we ditch the manic schedule and embrace simplicity this time of year? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Create Christmas Traditions that don’t cost money (or stress). While riding the Polar Express train might seem magical, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Especially when you consider the fact that, in reality, our expectations usually don’t match up with how our children respond. So instead of dropping hundreds of dollars on Christmas experiences and outings that may or may not be total flops, let’s narrow our traditions down to the more meaningful ones. Like driving around town looking at Christmas lights in the car, baking Christmas cookies (simple store bought cookies bring just as much joy as homemade), or having a sleepover in the living room floor by the tree. Our kids will remember these meaningful moments with us way more than the chaotic train ride that made them motion sick and cost us a lot of money.
- Take a social media break. While we should probably consider giving up social media altogether (another post for another day), taking some time away from the chaos of the digital world would greatly simplify our holiday season. There’s nothing worse than having a rough day with your kiddos only to open your phone and see your friend across town nailing it with her kids holding up their handmade ornaments and homemade cocoa in their matching Christmas PJs…all looking directly at the camera and smiling. No one needs to play the comparison game, especially during a season meant to cultivate gratitude and celebration.
- Plan quality time with friends instead of gift exchanges. We all know how stressful it is to pick a gift for a white-elephant party. So much thought goes into this process that when it comes down to it, we end up wasting money that we don’t need to be spending on a not-so-great gift that no one really cares about anyways. So ditch the gifts and have a lazy night (preferably in sweats or pajamas) with friends. Play games, eat yummy food, or just enjoy some adult conversation for a few hours.
- Pick one stressful holiday activity and skip it. What is that thing that you dread every holiday season? Is it the Christmas cards? Or coordinating the class party? Maybe it’s traveling to three different gatherings all on Christmas day. Whatever that thing is for you, give it up for a year. I’m not saying to give it up forever–just for this year. Remove the guilt that you put on yourself and take a break. You never know–you might find that it actually isn’t a good tradition for you after all.
- Experience the things that bring you joy. I realize I have basically suggested that you cut out a lot of your normal holiday traditions and activities and maybe this all sounds a little drastic from where you’re sitting. But take heart: not everything needs to go! Look at your calendar. Look at your to-do list. Look at your shopping list. Which of the pieces on those lists are going to enrich your family and fill your home with joy? Those are the areas to focus on and keep around!
When it comes down to it, we don’t have to run the holiday rat race. There’s so much more to this season and we don’t have to miss it just because we are trying to keep up with everyone and everything.