Every time I get to the holiday season I just want to take time to really enjoy all of the festivities, and spend some extra time with my family. Basically have one of those old fashioned holidays you can see in movies. However, the reality is usually rushing from one event to another, surviving in the crowded stores of grumpy shoppers just trying to find presents to please everyone on our list, which seems to get longer every year, cooking for an army, wrapping loads of presents at the last minute. It’s no wonder people seem to get stressed this time of year.
So, should we just accept that’s how it shall be every November and December, and keep muddling through year after year? I think it’s time we take a stand for our own holiday season. Here’s some simple ways to take your holiday back.
1. Practice Gratitude
We become aware of gratitude in November when Thanksgiving is approaching. However, gratitude is something that we should practice all year long. This simple practice can really uplift your life and improve your mental and physical health. You can learn more about it in my article Five reasons gratitude is good for your health.
Many people keep a gratitude journal, and write three to five things they are grateful for at the end of every day. This is such a great way to practice, and I hope to get there one day. However, since childhood I have struggled with being able to regularly keep a journal. I may be able to keep it going for a few weeks or a month, but something always seems to break the routine, and the next thing I know I haven’t done it at all. Rather than chastise myself for not being enlightened enough, I decided to find a method that works for me. So I implemented the practice for my entire family, which holds me accountable. At least once a day before a meal we each state what we are grateful for that day. Some days this is more challenging than others, yet it puts things in perspective on those challenging days.
My 8 year old daughter was asked to journal about how she feels about doing a gratitude practice, and this is what she wrote:
“I feel as if God is right here when I say what I am grateful for. I feel great saying what I am grateful for. I feel even more alive when I say it.”
2. Shorten your gift list
Financial strain is a big part of holiday stress, and somehow, we have taken on a sense of obligation to buy gifts for everyone we see in passing. We put expectations on ourselves to buy gifts for our children’s teacher, soccer coach, dance instructor, piano teacher, our co-workers, acquaintances, neighbors, the cable guy, the lady who walks her dog down your street every morning. Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but you get the idea.
It is wonderful to have these people in your thoughts and want to express this to them, but it can definitely be done with a card, and perhaps a trinket that costs $1 or less. Remember if you are spending $5 on every one of these people, it easily adds up to $100. That’s $100 on top of what you will spend on your children and family.
3. Keep your gifts reasonable
In the same category as number two, it is nice to want to buy your family the best electronics, and top of the line clothing, but is it necessary? Could your affections for your family and friends be expressed in a more intimate way? I’m not saying that you have to take a knitting class, and make a sweater with one sleeve longer than the other, but perhaps looking at how the people in your life make you feel, and how you can express that to them with a gift from the heart.
4. Honor your time when accepting invitations
Everyone you know is planning parties or get-togethers all in the same month. I’ve known people to dash to two or three different parties in the same day. This hardly seems like a good time to me. YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO TO EVERY PARTY OR EVENT YOU’RE INVITED TO. Look at your schedule, and reasonably decide how many events you can make in one week. If you aren’t sure how to choose which party, choose to spend time with the people you are closer to, rather than the friend of your co-workers vet.
5. Stop putting pressure on yourself
No one is perfect, no day is perfect. Stop aiming for perfection, and aim for enjoyment. Enjoy yourself while wrapping presents, don’t fuss over every last detail of the paper and ribbons. It will all end up on the floor anyway. Make the holiday meal with love not determination. You will feel better, and it will taste better. So many of us tend to be our own worst critics, so let’s treat ourselves with kindness and love, and just have fun this season.