As I was looking at our completely booked December and my to-do list (many of the items pertaining to Christmas - decorating, travel, food, gifts), I realized that I was not setting up this Christmas season to bring me joy. And I had the puzzling thought that if I was overwhelmed just looking at my plans, how would I feel when I was actually in the middle of all the holiday hustle?
What I needed to remember, as I sat at my desk with my plans and my expectations, was how important it was to be gracious with myself, especially during this busy time. Here’s the thing, we all bring different baggage with us as we walk into the holiday season. Just because it’s the most wonderful time of the year doesn’t mean that all of the obstacles we have been facing and hardships we have been carrying suddenly disappear. In fact, they might be even harder to carry amidst the bustle and expectations of the holidays.
This is my first Christmas without my dad, it’s my first Christmas spent away from my family, it’s our first Christmas in our new home (in which, lacking foresight, we started a major renovation last week). These are things that are challenging for me to face on their own, without the addition of White Elephant gifts and missing Christmas decorations. That’s why it’s so important for me make space in this season to nurture them. So I came up with some tips to help me practice nurturing, grace, and peace this Christmas.
Here are 3 Tips to walk through this holiday season with peace:
1. Gift Simply- When it comes to gifting, sometimes I feel like I am standing at the bottom of a giant mountain that I can’t imagine starting to climb. Especially because this year I wanted to give primarily homemade gifts. So I had to be exclusive about who I was able to give gifts to and not feel guilty because I couldn’t make something for everyone that I wanted to. I also had to leave some of my elaborate gift ideas (i.e. making everyone Christmas sweaters) behind in favor of gifts that were more manageable for me. By switching sweaters to mittens, I am able to actually enjoy the act of making special gifts instead of it becoming something I dread.
2. Say “no”- There is something about the holidays that makes it even harder to say no to people. I love this season so much and I want to be a part of every single festive thing that is happening. But looking at my completely booked December, I realized that if being a part of everything meant sacrificing days with Joe in our cozy Christmas home, then it wasn’t so desirable anymore. So I had to say ‘no’ to some things. And each ‘no’ was a weight lifted off my shoulders that allowed me to really be present where I was instead of always thinking about the next activity.
3. Slow down- For me, the most magical moments of Christmas time are the in-between moments. The moments spent wrapping presents by a twinkling Christmas tree, baking cookies with “Jingle Bell Rock” playing amidst the laughter of a full kitchen, driving to the grocery store and seeing all of the glowing trees in windows, snuggling in for a Christmas movie with freshly popped popcorn, and opening Christmas cards as they arrive in the mail. When my days are spent going from one thing to the next, as efficiently as possible to get it all done, suddenly I miss all the magic.
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