I love this time of year. I’ve always been the girl who unabashedly starts listening to Christmas music in November, sings while walking down the street by myself (even if strangers give me funny looks), watches the same movies over and over again, and feels like a kid on Christmas Eve and morning. I’ve filled three mugs with hot chocolate and taken my brother and sister on a tour of displays since they were kids. And I still marvel at how a single string of white lights can warm up a room.
Now in saying all of that, I will still admit that the holidays don’t feel quite the same as they used to. As a family, we’re trying to figure out what our new traditions are, and I imagine it’s going to be a little different each year now that we’re older, my parents aren’t together and we won’t all be in Victoria. The fact that we no longer exchange gifts actually helps, as it takes a lot of pressure off and makes the holidays so much more meaningful for us all. But it still takes a little more effort to feel the same spirit I used to.
So when Laura asked if I’d consider writing something about the upcoming holiday season, my first response was no. But the more I thought about it, I realized that most people feel some amount of stress this time of year. While you might not be able to relate to mine, specifically, I can appreciate the chaos and anxiety that gets stirred up by all the shopping, spending, parties and obligations. It’s not always as easy as some people make it look. If anything, we should help ease the stress from one another.
If that sounds like what you need, here are a few simple reminders for the holidays:
- You’re allowed to shop and give gifts – just don’t let that be the core of what your holidays revolve around.
- Spend your money mindfully – that means knowing what you’re buying, how much you’re spending and, most importantly, why.
- You don’t need to buy kids stacks upon stacks of gifts. When I look back at my childhood, there are only a few gifts that I even remember receiving. And at the end of the big day, I only went to bed with one: the new books.
- Your presence is the best present.
- The second best present is making someone laugh.
- Play and have fun! Centre the holidays around artwork, games, movies, music, light tours, etc.
- It doesn’t have to look perfect to be perfect. Your home doesn’t need to be decorated a certain way and gifts don’t need a certain wrapping paper or bow. Your home is a home; it is meant to be lived in and loved in. How it looks shouldn’t represent you or how you treat the people inside it.
- The mess you make in your home – in the kitchen, around the table, under the tree, etc. – is one of the best messes you’ll make all year. Don’t clean it up too soon.
- Eat and drink mindfully – that means enjoying some of the goodies in front of you, but continuing to make the good decisions you make every other day of the year.
- Remember the holidays aren’t a happy time for everyone. As Garrett suggested last week, try to bring gratitude and compassion into every interaction you have.
- If the holidays aren’t a happy time for you personally, please reach out to someone. A friend. A family member. A stranger. Ask for their company, for a hug, for an ear to listen, or for whatever else you might need. Humans are hardwired to help, and connection is the best way we can do that. <3
- Try to see every challenge as an opportunity to spread the holiday spirit. Like Kara said, throw kindness around like confetti.
- Open doors for others. This is the simplest thing you can do, but is extra helpful this time of year.
- Tell someone how you feel about them. I wish I could remember who said it, but I recently heard someone on a podcast describe how her father wrote her a letter expressing all the things he was proud of her for each Christmas. That’s a tradition I need in my life, and I think I’ll start it with a few friends this year.
- Slow down. Linger in bed for a few extra minutes. Chew a little longer. Walk a little slower. And for goodness’ sake, don’t speed on the road.
- Remember that it’s ok to say “no”. The holidays can be stressful enough without a full calendar. It’s ok to take some downtime for yourself and your family.
- Do what you can with what you have – in all areas of your life.
- Don’t compare your gifts or traditions to anyone else’s.
- Accept the holidays for what they are, not what they should be.
- When in doubt, go outside.