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.
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.
lily places her 1st decoration
lily places her 1st decoration
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!
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!