Friday, December 3, 2010

have it YOUR WAY, this christmas

i'm not even sure that that is the slogan for a certain burger chain any longer...oh well, i will hijack it anyway.

here is what i know about the holiday season: it can create misery and stress that should be alleviated. instead of enjoying yourself, you spend a lot of money and a lot of time running around doing a bunch of junk you don't want to do. here is my philosophy on the holiday season, and on much of life: cut the crap.
below are some of my rules that help me make decisions about what to skip and what to enjoy during the christmas season...

1) do what you really really want to, and ditch the stress makers, time wasters, and expensive un-necessaries. picture this: you LOVE baking and cooking and giving homemade treats, but you don't have time to make cookies with your kids, or time to shop for cute gift tins at the dollar store because you are too busy going to parties you don't want to attend, or doing breakfast with santa or mailing christmas cards. instead of really enjoying yourself, the extra time off from work/ school, the festiveness and fun, you rush around from obligation to obligation and feel burnt out and anxious. sounds like a recipe for misery.
i understand that there are things you HAVE to go to... an annual family christmas reunion, the office christmas party etc... we must make these little concessions. but you don't HAVE to send out christmas cards. i hate doing them. it is expensive and time consuming and stressful. i like getting them and plastering the living room door frame with them, but sending them is no fun. i love cooking and baking and giving food as gifts. i am not to keen on throwing the parties because that requires a lot more housecleaning than i have time for right now. i decided a couple of years ago, that this was our christmas and we could spend it how we like. forget the obligations- let's enjoy it! let go of the guilt and traditions.. it's only weighing you down. make your family's holiday season special, by having it your way.

lily places her 1st decoration

work in progress. a noble fir... prettiest tree ever

always the 1st ornament i place, right near the top. photo from the year before we married.

2) think twice before you buy. it is tempting standing in front of all the christmas decorations and gifts you could give at store. but do you really need the $5 wrapping paper? i used to spend $50 on wrapping paper every year (before i was married..) and spend hours wrapping gifts with fancy designer papers and ribbons. i'd spend more time thinking about the outside of the package than what was inside the gift. this was before i realized that thoughtfulness doesn't need to cost an arm and a leg (though, if you have a huge tom jones fan in your family, getting them tickets to see a show in vegas is thoughtful AND outrageously expensive), and that no one but me really cared about the outside of the box. would someone be impressed with your purchase of a really expensive and kind of useless tchotchky? maybe, but it is more likely that they'll be impressed with the thought you put behind a useful gift wrapped in newspapers.

3) if they say "don't get me a gift", don't get them a gift. period. i am still learning this one, but you gotta abide by it or make yourself crazy.

4) your dream is NOW. what have you always wanted to do, but not made time or money for? got a friend who takes the whole family for hot chocolate and then drives around looking at christmas lights, and you always thought, i'd love to do that... but haven't yet? this is the year. make the time. i have always admired homes that are decorated simply - with a giant wreath on the front of the house and a candle in each window. i've never done it. mainly because the wreaths cost $75 or more for a big one. well, this year i got tired of someday and decided to make it happen. with help from jim, his tools and wire we had hanging around, a big old fir tree in our front yard that needed a trim, and $8 in ribbon and window candles i made my home decor dreams come true!

reaaaally hard to get a good photo at night. need a tripod!
i love decorating my house... that and baking up a storm are my special treats that i'm making time for this year. while i work on my projects i enjoy another holiday favorite: watching christmas movies. i know them so well, that i don't have to look at the screen but get to enhance the enjoyment by doing both together.

wrapping the rail and banister while watching national lampoon's christmas vacation

i'll share more pictures of the finished product later in the month as everything is a work in progress still... but i am so happy to be rid of the "have to's" in our family's life and spending our december leisure time on the "want to's".

love doing letters to santa

what about you? is there a way you've always wanted to celebrate but haven't had time or resources? is there a special tip you have on how to enjoy the holiday and bust the stress? tell me about it or what your favorite christmas movie is ("it's a wonderful life" and "scrooged" are mine...hmmm, there is a redemption theme here), in the comments section below!


Brenda Jo said...

This is only the 2nd year we are staying HOME for Christmas. Traveling to NY or CT is always stressful whether we fly or drive, whether we ship gifts ahead of time of take them with us. With the death of my father-in-law and grandfather-i-l a week apart in October, that side of the family isn't into Christmas, so we will have great nights and dinners with our friends here in NC. No gifts, just great food, wine and fun. Might be the best Christmas ever.

And my first ornament on the tree is one made in 1st grade with a tuna fish can!

And I MAKE our Christmas cards (70 this year)--not too fun of a project this year. Definitely not my best cards either.

Great wreath Shelley!!

shel said...

sounds AWESOME brenda! and i love that you make cards... you know what you value and what brings you joy and do that. hope it is all you wished for this year.

Ewa said...

I do so agree with your post. Christmas cards seem like such a waste of paper. Most end up in trash as soon as holidays are over. Wrapping paper? We have been reusing bags for the past... must be 10 years or so. They still look good maybe because instead of buying ten thousand presents we work on creating memories by doing something special every year. This way we can actually remember our holidays. The list goes on and on. Simplicity is the key.

Anonymous said...

I love to drive around with the kids and look at christmas lights. They love it and they are in their carseats so its very peacefull. There is a house that I reccommend on Yorktown in Webster, if you havent seen it yet, CRAZY! I get what you mean about feeling obligated. I like sending cards and love getting them. I don't like to bake much, to much time and mess, even though I love eating baked goods. I love decorating as well but do it less lately.I think its sad how just about every holiday has turned into "you have to buy something to be happy". Your house looks nice by the way. Hope you have a happy Christmas! Jess

Katie Kift said...

When Hubbie and I got together, we stated from the first Christmas that we would only visit family before Christmas or after new Year. From Christmas Eve to New Years Day we would hide away and not go and visit anyone.

Initially we made the decision because I didn't want to get into the whole, "But you stayed at M's parent's last year". I have never been so relieved of a decision in my life. Now it's a given that we won't visit family or friends on Christmas Day. We chill out, never move from our jammies and pig out on turkey and chocolate. Best Christmas present to ourselves EVER!

Anonymous said...

how did I miss this blog? I love your handmade wreath.You are so crafty in a good way :)
Liz F

shel said...

not crafty in a malicious, monty burns kind of way lizzy...? ;-)