Maybe you celebrate Christmas, maybe you don’t. Maybe you celebrate a more religious Christmas or maybe a less religious Christmas. Maybe Santa comes to your house, maybe not. Maybe you travel for the holidays, maybe you stay home. Possibly you run around seeing ALL the family, or maybe you see a few. No matter how you celebrate, I think we can ALL agree that Christmas as a commercial holiday has become the most chaotic holiday season that is stressful for all.
I have been through 5 Holiday seasons as a mother and am about to enter my sixth. I’ve learned a bit from each about myself and the chaos. I still have a lot to learn but want to share some of my findings.
If we let it, this season can be ridiculously stressful. I went through my first 2 holiday seasons pleasing EVERYONE, doing everything, and forcing Christmas to be special for my family. What I learned is that this way of “celebrating” was NOT the intention for this holiday, it is expensive, and creates fights, not joy. The first holiday season I was forced to slow down. You see, I was 5 months pregnant with our second and was not able to do it all. This was the perfect year to slow down and realize what we could do to make the season amazing for our child and selves. What I learned?? My child really just wanted our time. His 2 year old self wanted deeply to build meaningful traditions that allow us to spend time together. So, our 2.5 year old got his wish. We organized a short list of traditions we wanted to continue and new things we wanted to start. We have always gone to chop a tree together and decorate that night, a simple yet amazing way to begin the season. The rest of our traditions were simple and fun, not high stakes and stressful. This was also the year that we celebrated Christmas Eve as a small family unit, went to one family on Christmas afternoon, and the other side a day later. It was so nice to have a slow intentional time to share love with each group of people. It allowed the love that comes down on Christmas to be felt and shared.
Then came the stress of gift purchasing and receiving. Do NOT get me wrong, I am grateful for all the generosity of family and friends, but I had been finding that each October I stressed out about the amount of toys that are about to join us in our home. Let’s face it, my children have an endless amount of toys. We started something in our family that year that is outstanding. My husband and I give our kids 4 gifts they include: something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read. And Santa brings my children one gift a piece. This simplicity allows us to focus on gifts that will mean something to our kids. It takes the financial strains away from our wallets. It also lets us realize that Christmas is about much more than just a bunch of getting. In order to assist in the giving spirit of Christmas our kids give back a bit. We leave a few toys under our tree for Santa to give to other younger kids. We also buy gifts for children in need and deliver them to the organization that passes them out to those in need.
However you choose to do Christmas is obviously up to you. I hope that something I shared got you thinking about how to do life with a little less stress. Be present, that is the best gift you can give your family!
Lauren Brown is a mother of three, Certified Holistic Health Coach and Beautycounter Consultant.