Sometimes it seems crazy that words like ‘love, peace, joy and happiness are on all of the holiday cards and decorations when it can feel like a challenge to truly feel this way through the holidays. With decorations popping up as soon as Halloween is over and sales being pushed on us before Thanksgiving is even over, it takes some serious focus to not buy into the hype that the retail establishments have created. So how do we get back to the basics and really enjoy this time of year again? Here are three great places to start:
1. Clean up your schedule. Do not attend or volunteer for anything that you do not REALLY want to. This is not the time of year to be picking up extra responsibilities if they are not truly meaningful to you. Release the ‘shoulds’ you feel and only accept the party invitations or responsibilities that will bring you love, laughter or happiness. Giving away your time any time, much less around the holidays, is a surefire way to create stress and anxiety. This stressed state often sabotages the events and traditions we are really excited to participate in because when we are this tense, we have difficulty relaxing and being truly present.
2. Enjoy traditions that are meaningful to you. It is easy to get too many obligations this time of year. Like cleaning up your schedule, it can be helpful to evaluate the traditions that you participate in and make sure that they truly do bring you more peace, joy and love. Service to others is a great way to remind yourself of how blessed you truly are and I highly encourage incorporating this element into your yearly traditions, however it can become too much. Choose only traditions that leave you feeling revived, invigorated and more grateful for what you have. My family loves creating crafts for those we love, going out to look at holiday lights, reading holiday books curled up on the couch, eating dinner by candlelight and having game and movie nights. There is nothing wrong with simplicity and the gift of being present with those you love is truly the best tradition you can create.
3. Simplify your gift giving. This can be a tough one for a lot of people. We all want our kids to have a ‘magical’ holiday but the sheer quantity of accumulated ‘stuff’ can be overwhelming. In preparation for the big day, I like to do a big clean out and clear out all the unwanted and outgrown toys to donate to a cause. This creates space for new without it becoming too overwhelming. I also like the practice of ‘something you want, need, wear, read’. If you have other themes that are more popular or practical in your household, you can substitute in your own like a game, special interest class, family vacation, etc. however limiting it to four or so categories helps you to focus on the values you want to be supporting in your family and also to know when you’re ‘done’.
Some families who celebrate Christmas like to give a Christmas Eve gift as well. Pajamas are a popular gift, but since we have an overabundance of pajamas and one of my children refuses to wear any we have decided to give a game on Christmas Eve. This is a perfect way to plan on spending quality time together having fun. (Sometimes it takes planning to make sure you have quality time set aside to really focus and enjoy each others’ company.) I am also super conscious of only buying toys that are sure to get a lot of use (ie. a doll house, game, Legos, etc.) and skipping the little plastic items that only have one way you can use them and end up as clutter. This year I am making a princess dress, clothing for both the girls and a fairy house with tree and wood scraps and a stable for the horses and magical ponies. I can’t wait to post a picture when it is done!
The holidays are a time we should find refuge in- to reinvigorate our lives with a reminder of the love and joy that we have surrounding us on a daily basis. Simply stated, if you are in a constant state of stress throughout the holidays, you are trying to do too much. How do you make sure that you are staying focused on the magic and joy of the season? How do you keep from accumulating too much clutter this time of year while still feeling the ‘magic?’
I’d love to hear your tips and ideas!
And as always, if you found this article to be helpful, please share it with those you love!