Advertising would have you believe that the best way to have a happy holiday is to host a big gathering, in a fancy house where you get (and give) lots of stuff. Parties are always loud and bright. There is a long list of traditions that must be done. (Whoever invented the modern-day elf on the shelf needs a strong talking to.) The truth is you can shape your holidays so that they are more enjoyable for you and your family.
What do you enjoy? What are your options? Traditions can be changed. Little pleasures can be planned for and you can change your calendar. How can you curate enjoyable moments for yourself during the holiday season?
I grew up with the tradition of opening gifts on Christmas morning. When I had children, this tradition continued. Every Christmas started at 5am with overexcited children who hadn’t had enough sleep and ended with crabby children who melted down.
One year it dawned on me that this did not have to be our pattern. My children were 7 and 12 when I decided that we would go to the early church service on Christmas eve, come home to a simple dinner of finger foods, and then we would open gifts. We watched movies and built Legos into the wee hours. Then we went to bed. Christmas morning traditions became sleeping in late, relaxing with a new book, and children who were content to play with their new stuff. So much better.
Then there was the year when no one bought me marzipan for my stocking. I love marzipan. It has been a tradition that someone has put some in my stocking every year. That year each person thought the other person was going to do it. I sulked. Then it dawned on me that I was no less loved because of the planning mix up and that I have my own car and money. If I want marzipan, I can certainly buy it myself.
Are there little things that make the difference for you? Take care of yourself. If there is something in particular you love, and can afford it, get it or do it. I love having a new book on Christmas morning. (Don’t tell… I already have one loaded on my Kindle. I am saving it for December 25th.)
Doing What Matters
Consider how you spend your time. What activities are most meaningful for you? Are people expecting you to throw the annual party that they have always enjoyed? Do you want to? If you look forward to this event – then be sure to plan time for it and recruit some help. It is well within your right to say, “not this year.” What about the invitations or expectations to be somewhere or do something? “No thanks” is a whole sentence. You can communicate to others that you are taking a different approach without apologizing or justifying.
Keeping it Simple
If all the holiday hype is too much, you can decide that this year you are simply going to have a Saturday. Do what you would do on Saturday. One plus about the world being busy is that you can have time to do your own thing. One of my favorite things to do during the holiday season is nothing.
While the world is busy, and it is so dark outside I like to do nothing. This is not my usual. I am a person who enjoys a full schedule, with a planner full of projects – I like to be on the go. Somehow during the time of solstice, as a calendar year ends, I like to have a few hours to myself. This is where changing the gift giving schedule worked for me when my kids were younger. Christmas morning became me, the tree, and my book.
What do you enjoy? Do more of that. What don’t you enjoy? How can you can reduce that? You can shape your holiday into something that is enjoyable for you. Let go of expectations that someone else will make your holiday magic. You can change a tradition, get your own little pleasure, and decide how you want to spend your time. How can you make this holiday season work a little better for you and your family?