So, I’m just going to lay this out there – up until pretty recently I really, really hated Christmastime.
I know, I know. I can hear the audible gasps out there. I’ve got friends and family who literally cartwheel into Christmas, decking the halls, posting daily shenanigans of their “Elf on the Shelf” on social media and create gingerbread houses worthy of display at the Smithsonian Museum. But, up until now, I have not been one of them.
I think my contempt for Christmas started when I was much younger, witnessing my poor mother labor endlessly over food, presents and decorating in an effort to make everything magical for us at home. There was more than one holiday when my mom was exhausted, sick and upset as December 25th approached and my elementary-school- age id ego could never understand what all the fuss was about.
“Jeez, why is mom so crabby?,” I’d ask my little sister.
“I dunno,” she’d answer as we’d cram another Oreo in our mouths while watching “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” for the twelfth time in a row.
As I grew older and had a child of my own, it really hit home how much work it is for a woman to put on a show during the season. Consider the following lists of to-dos I have tried to accomplish over the years:
- Buying seasonal flair and lights for outside of house
- Putting up seasonal flair and lights for outside of house
- Buying seasonal flair for inside of house
- Putting up seasonal flair inside of house
- Securing photo for Christmas cards
- Ordering Christmas cards
- Addressing and sending Christmas cards
- Buying presents
- Wrapping presents
- Buying food for meals
- Preparing meals
- Serving meals
- Cleaning up the flippin’ meals
- Researching recipes and baking cookies
- Buying a tree
- Decorating the tree
- Making sure pets don’t kill the tree
- Volunteering for children’s holiday school and church activities
- Finding perfect holiday activities for family and paying for them
- Buying, washing , ironing clothes for holiday travel, special events and photos
And on, and on, and on………………………..
I was spending so much time stressing on the things that don’t matter, that I fell head first into a mental and spiritual crisis every time I heard, “The Christmas Song” on the radio the day after Thanksgiving. I began to panic, feeling the pressure of what I thought was expected of me from family and friends every December. I would find myself in tears wrapping presents or shouting at my husband during shopping excursions because I was wound up so tightly.
So what happened to help me turn around and actually enjoy the countdown to Christmas?
I got some mother-effin’ perspective.
With the help of a fantastic book, called “The Little Book of Hygge” by Meik Wiking, I reigned in the red and green beast and reclaimed the jolly holiday as my own.
- Joy is found in simple things.
I was spending waaaay too much on gifts for my family every year, thereby accruing a pretty signficant credit card bill because I thought I had to show my love through giving lots of expensive, over-the-top gifts. One or two simple gifts per person is just fine! Hey, Jesus got just three!
- Embrace nature.
This year I got rid of all the fake greenery, trees and other shit in my house so I could bring in live greenery from the free clippings pile at Home Depot. I am also forcing paperwhite, tulip and daffodil bulbs in beautiful crystal dishes that I had stocked away in my cabinets gathering dust. Not only does it smell incredible in my house right now, but I am really enjoying the beauty that is added from using natural materials. In addition, bundle up and go for a walk outside – it does wonders for your mood!
- Get cozy.
Find your softest clothes, blankets and cuddle like you’ve never cuddled before with those you love. Studies show those who spend time cuddling experience less anxiety, depression and loneliness during the holidays than those who don’t.
- Say NO.
This year I am saying no to doing a huge Christmas card mailing, over extending myself with volunteer opportunities, buying in to Christmas television advertising hype, spending time anybody in my life who drains my energy and morale, and anything else that isn’t making me feel all the Christmas feels. Saying no is truly liberating!
- Focus on experiences.
Christmas isn’t about stuff, it’s about doing things you enjoy with those you love, creating memories that will be around long after the toys break, the iphones are outdated and the clothes go out of style.
- Schedule self-care moments
Stop making excuses as to why you can’t do something nice for yourself this season. Take a bath, read a book, book a massage, buy the outfit, get a babysitter for a night out — just do something that makes you feel good. Nobody will ever care as much about yourself as you!
Cheers to you all and until next time, be good to yourselves this Christmas!