It’s mid-November, so you know you’re already thinking about them…
While wonderful, the holidays often come with an inevitable hustle.
We shop, bake, send cards, attend parties, and try to squeeze in some goodwill toward men. Above all, we try to make memories that will last after the tree is on the curb and all the shiny paper finds its way to the trash.
The trouble is, all this holiday hustle often isn’t enjoyable.
In fact, it can feel downright stressful.
We create so much anxiety about having a good time and enjoying the holidays that we often fail to do just that.
Several years ago my friend Michele posted this on Facebook:
I’ve been thinking about Christmas cards this week. Specifically, about not doing them for the first time ever. I LOVE Christmas cards. I enjoy sending them and receiving them. I have fun selecting a design. But every year, they are a source of some stress for me. What photo will we use? Do we take our own or hire a photographer? How will I find the time to get them all done?
I’ve also been thinking a lot about time and how we spend it. Very recently, I’ve known several young people who have passed away in their 30s and knowing this has been an important reminder to treasure each day and the people I love for the gifts they are.
So, I’m thinking no Christmas cards this year. I’m not saying I won’t do them again, but who knows? Maybe not. I’m also thinking that we will donate the money we save to children’s charities. More time for our family, money to charities, and less cards in the trash. This really is a tough decision for me–breaking away from the tradition and the ritual of actually taking the time to send something personal in the mail.
Michele received some very interesting comments, from requests to not join the “anti-Christmas movement” to like-hearted individuals who, too, wanted to halt the crazy holiday hustle and actually enjoy the season of love and giving.
Which got me thinking…
Do we all feel this way about the holidays, secretly?
For example, I’ve noticed that my mom sometimes seems stressed about baking holiday cookies. So I’m sending a PSA to my mom and any other slightly-stressed, flour-covered grandmothers out there:
We don’t come to your house for the cookies. We come to see you, to love you, to enjoy the season of giving because we are lucky enough to be with those we love. If it stresses you out, please skip the baking. We’ll love you just as much over a package of holiday-themed Oreos.
(In fact, I’m rather curious to know if the red holiday filling tastes different from the everyday white!)
So Mom, you’re off the hook for the cookies if you want to be. (Note: this does in no way apply to the anchovy spaghetti you make for Christmas Eve. That stays.)
Holiday stress stems entirely from expectations we put on ourselves.
No one else really expects us to have the best lighting display in the neighborhood or fill each of our children’s stocking with themed presents. We expect that of ourselves.
So my suggestion this holiday season is…
Let’s all give ourselves a break. Just say no to the hustle.
Ignore the online deals if you want to, don’t bake unless it brings you joy, forgo the holiday cards unless you love sending them and the thought of licking 200 envelopes is vaguely appealing to you. (Please know: I’m sarcastic but I don’t judge. I’ve licked my fair share of holiday card envelopes and may well do so again this year if the mood strikes me!)
What do I propose instead of being a straight-up holiday hustla?
Do something you love. Spread some joy. That’s what this season is all about.
Greet your neighbors with a cheerful smile and hello. Surprise them by shoveling their driveway when they’re not looking. (Note to my neighbors: you are totally welcome to fulfill your need for cheerful giving in this fashion… and I promise to act very, very surprised.)
Spend your baking time selecting and donating nonperishable goods for a local food pantry. Better yet, do that with your kids.
Have a holiday movie marathon with your loved ones and copious amounts of holiday snackery.
Basically, ditch your self-imposed expectations and just do whatever truly brings you joy this holiday season.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to buy a package of holiday Oreos. I believe they’re already on the shelves.
To holidays that truly light you up… inside and out…