Once upon a time I let the stress of the holiday season suck the joy right out of it. I didn this every year, which stincks because I LOVE this time of year. I think if you’re a mom of small children who believe, keeping the magic of the season alive is a full-time job. Not to mention the details of all the rest! From teacher gifts, holiday gatherings, sending cards, planning and shopping for the special meals, making sure everyone has gifts that are perfect, doing all the traditions just right (even if you don’t even like doing some of them…) The details and obligations of the holidays are enough to take us right out of the moment without letting us enjoy it as is. I’ve written before about what drives me nuts about Christmas here , but since then I have discovered that it doesn’t have to be this way. Joy for our children and family does not mean stress for us. Here’s the thing…
A couple of years ago I stopped sending Christmas cards.
It felt crazy initially. I figured I would let it go one year and see how it felt. I have loved sending them out throughout the years, but since Facebook has become a real presence in everybody’s lives for a decade or so now, there are rarely pictures I can send that aren’t there first. And while a select few I send cards to don’t have Facebook, it’s not enough to make me want to invest the time, money and ENERGY in creating, addressing and sending these cards each season. I stressed so hard about those cards! After that first year I felt really free. Some people complain, but my relief from taking that obligation off my list has trumped everything.
Bonus resource! 5 ways to have a more peacefull, stress free holiday season
After that I started to look around and see what else I could eliminate to make this season more enjoyable for me. Because since when is it okay for us as women to do all the things for the holidays and not really enjoy it?
I think YOU deserve a (mostly) stress free holiday just as much as you kids so.
You. Are. Worth. It.
So why a minimalist Christmas? What even is it? I can share that it’s not about having no decorations, or giving your kids a book and an orange for Christmas and that’ss it. (My kids would DIE lol.) What a minimalist Christmas is about is taking away all the fluff that we don’t really care about and being really deliberate about our time and how we spend it. What really matters to you and how do you envision this season feeling like? I think happiness starts with us, and if mama is stressed and crazy and overwhelmed, everyone is. There is no magic for the holidays if only part of your family is enjoying it.
Here are the ways I am enjoying a minimalist Christmas, and how you can, too!
- I want you to sit down right now and write a list of the traditions for the holidays that you would be devastated to be without. Things that YOU and your immediate family truly love. What can you let go of and what stays. For me, baking cookies with my kids is important, going to see the Nutcracker with my daughter is something I love, as is going to see the lights at Bellingrath gardens. We also love making big meals for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so a goof amount of planning goes into that. Do I envision more being nice, too? YES. But keeping the list small and doable is key. Pick 2-3 things that you absolutely love, and let the rest go. I think it is so much easier to enjoy a couple of small things rather than do all of the things, and my kids enjoy doing less as well (no matter what they say to the contrary!) What can you say no to? Spoiler alert: say no to 90%, even if you think it is impossible to do so.
- For years my kids have gotten 5 gifts from Santa (plus a stocking), and this has really helped pare down what they expect and makes me really deliberate with what I buy. They both make lists of a zillion things they see on tv and in catalogues, but my first thought is, “what are they still playing with from last year and what are they not?” I don’t like to buy toys and gadgets that I will inevitable throw out halfway through the year. As much as mine may THINK they want the newest toy that the world says they need, I know better. Try not to get sucked into the marketing ploys of having what “all the kids have” and think what they would truly use. I like buying things they can play outside with (skateboards, roller skates, etc), as well as electronics that are an investment but will last (Kindle Fire’s last year, and Xbox this year.) I’d rather they have less gifts but have them be truly usable, than by the latest thing that will fall apart in two seconds.
- On the same thought, I had to let go of getting the “perfect” gift for people. Unless you are in my home on Christmas Day, I had to let go of creating this gifting moment (where I envisioned my gift being the key to happiness for the receiver.) Because, as I’ve learned, there is no gift that will make anyone happy long-term. I decided to do gift cards for most everyone long distance, even if I’d love to devote more time to shopping, wrapping and shipping THE perfect gift, it isn’t worth my sanity. It’s just too stressful for me, so I let that go. Sometimes the perfect gift will show itself and I’ll grab that, but most often I take the easy route and send simple gift cards. Often enough extravagant gifts are often more about the sender than the receiver, and we hope that by giving something awesome we will look good in their eyes. I had to let go of my ego and realize my joy is worth something, too. Plus, everyone loves gift cards:)
- Something that has helped me when I have stressed lately over gifts and getting it all done, is to remember that I have never NOT gotten it all done before Christmas. Ever! Each year I manage to gather everything and wrap it and all is magically just done in time! I think worrying now takes the joy out of the present moment, and why spoil NOW for something that we can get done in plenty of time (like we always have?) If everything seems hard and insurmountable, just take a breath and say, “everything is always working out for me.” It sounds crazy, but I swear this works. Because everything IS always working out for you if you say it and start to believe it.
- Something I have learned while decorating for the holidays these past two years is that somehow I became the dumping ground for all of the decorations of my childhood. Which is fun and I loved forever, but one day I opened up the Christmas boxes and saw that none of it matched my style. So I didn’t put it out. I’ve since transitioned my decor to the things that truly light me up, and what doesn’t either gets donated or permanently stored. You see, you get to determine what makes you happy and brings you joy, and holding onto old things, beliefs, and traditions isn’t serving you. Just like I wrote in this post about shedding your old identity, you don’t have to hold onto anything that isn’t serving you anymore. It may feel initially weird to not include traditions or things you have been doing forever, but after a while it actually FREES you, I promise. I want you to live for your life and do what is good for your family, not what others think you should do. It makes all the difference when you do this, I promise.