It’s December–Don’t Panic

It’s been almost a month since my last post. I thought I would get to post before this, but my best laid plans didn’t go the way I thought they would. I’m okay with it, though.

I probably would have just said in a nutshell, don’t get stressed about Christmas. Don’t worry about getting things done yet, you’ve got plenty of time. Easier said than done, I know. But not stressing can be done–and it should be.

It’s December now, and I wonder how many of you are in full-on panic mode at this point. I hope none of you are, but probably you wouldn’t be on this list then.

So . . .

Think about what is making you most stressed. Here’s a good test to see if you should stress about it. Are you going to still care about it in 5 years? How about this time next year? For probably 95 percent of the things people stress about at Christmas, the answer is NO.

I still remember the year I told my husband I was not going to have time to bake cookies, and if he wanted them he would have to bake them himself. We had probably been married about 12 years, and I had always baked (and sometimes he had baked some cookies, too).

You know what he did? He baked. And he wasn’t the least bit stressed about it. He had fun, and the kids helped, and I did what I needed to do, without staying up half the night and getting myself sick over it.

Becoming Realistic

You are one person. Chances are, you have a job, maybe kids, and not a whole lot of extra time after you get everything done that you need to do on a daily basis.

You deserve to sleep. You deserve to do things YOU enjoy during the holidays (and other times). Christmas should be fun, not stressful.

It’s time to become more realistic about what you can accomplish at this time of year, and how much you can realistically expect to get done. Then, you need to let things go.

What can you let go? In previous years, I have let go of sending Christmas cards, I have not decorated as much, and I have comandeered my husband to wrap gifts (and trust me, it wasn’t very pretty, but it got done).

I went from being someone who spent weeks making homemade, craft fair-quality gifts to save money and sewing dresses for the girls and ties and vests for the guys every year to being able to let my husband do at least half of the shopping and some years, all of the baking. I haven’t even touched the sewing machine this year (although I might do so to help my daughter make some little gifts for her friends).

I decided at some point that if I as the mom wasn’t finding joy in Christmas, then my kids were probably going to be suffering for it and I was probably costing them joy and sending a very bad message about what Christmas was all about, too.

Was stress and losing sleep and being cranky worth it just to have everything be what I thought was perfect? I decided NO.

Beyond Simplicity

My current approach to Christmas goes beyond the concept of simplicity. That’s part of it, but just simplifying is not really the whole point of what I’m trying to do here. There’s a reason for the season, and it’s not the perfect cookie or the perfect gift or the perfect outfit.

Christmas celebrates Christ, and He surely doesn’t care about any of the stuff I just listed. I want my Christmas to be centered around the stuff He cares about–spending time with family, doing meaningful things together (including helping others), and celebrating together.

So wherever you are on completing your to-do list, I hope you can take a little time to evaluate how you’re feeling and doing this season, and if you are feeling mainly stressed, that you can take some time to think about what you can let go to make your schedule more realistic–and ultimately bring some joy into the season for yourself and your loved ones.

Although it may seem even more stressful at first to make changes and do things differently, if your experience is like mine it will lead to a much Merrier Christmas when it’s all said and done.

Feel free to write me a comment if this post resonated with you and, if you feel comfortable, let me know how you have tamed Christmas.

tree pic

Decorating the tree together with ornaments collected for over 40 years.

No More Dreading Christmas

It’s a horrible feeling, dreading Christmas. For years I felt it when October rolled around. I had a physical reaction to the beginning of Christmas preparations. My chest tightened; my stomach clenched. Instead of thinking about beautiful decorations or the look of surprise on my kids’ faces as they opened gifts, I was thinking about the loss of all my free time until January and the expenses for which we weren’t prepared. Instead of meditating on Advent-themed scriptures and the miracle of Christ’s birth, I was making long to-do lists and wondering how I was going to get everything done on top of work and all the kids’ normal activities.

A few years ago I decided it wasn’t worth it. I had to change the way I was doing things so I could find true joy in Christmas again. The end result–this blog and an e-book called Taming the Christmas Monster, which will release to Kindle next week–is intended to help those who feel frazzled by Christmas back to a place of peace and sanity again.  This year, I don’t yet have a to-do list. My stockpile of gifts is smaller than ever. I don’t have much of anything planned for December yet, but when I think of Christmas, my thoughts are good. Whatever happens, I know I will sense the joy and wonder of this time of Christ’s birth, and that is all I need to know right now.

If you have dark thoughts about this special time of year, this blog and my e-book are for you. If you just want to crawl under the covers and wake up on December 26th, subscribe below. If the thought of buying gifts, sending cards, decorating, baking and attending parties, performances and other events overwhelms you to the point where you feel like a failure before you’ve even begun, stay tuned. I will be posting frequently as the time draws nearer, and the book WILL be on Amazon next week to guide you through action steps that will make Christmas manageable again.

It is possible to love Christmas again, to find its joy and peace. If you don’t celebrate Christmas from a place of faith, this blog and the e-book are still for you.  The stress of Christmas never had anything to do with my faith–it was everything else that seemed to get in the way of what Christmas was supposed to be about. My faith is an integral part of who I am and my experience, so I need to talk about it when I share those experiences. The same principles apply, however, whether one celebrates the coming of baby Jesus or just sees Christmas as a special time for family and togetherness.

If you like this blog and what it has to offer, please subscribe below. There are many harried people out there, overwhelmed by Christmas and all it signifies. If you can relate, tell your friends. Chances are, they can relate too.