I have been feeling the pressure for a while now.
It was subtle at first. Like a vague feeling of stress, mixed with the whisper that I am forgetting something.
Then, as the holiday season progressed, it grew.
The shopping, the wrapping, the traditions, the parties – the holiday season is in full force.
This morning, I woke up feeling tired, anxious and like a Christmas failure.
Not because my children aren’t enjoying the season – nope. In fact, this has been one of the best ever for my oldest son. He is choosing to participate more and more in traditions and celebrations that, only a few years ago, would’ve been totally out of the question.
Not because my husband is unhappy. He loves our low key, only do the things that make sense for our family approach.
No, this one is all me. The feeling that I am somehow not doing it right. That as a mom, I need to be offering more, showing them more, celebrating more, creating more, doing more. How did I get here?
How did celebrating Baby Jesus turn into a comparison game that I can never win?
Thankfully, after a couple of cups of coffee, my head cleared a bit, the anxiety lifted and I began to relax. Another cup of coffee later, and I actually began to embrace all the things we are not doing this year to celebrate.
The truth is, we have to be intentional. We have to use our time well. We have to be about only the most important things to celebrate as a family. Doing this means there will be a lot of things NOT on the list .
Here are 10 things we don’t do to celebrate Christmas:
Send out Christmas cards or God forbid, Christmas letters.
Schedule photography sessions for family portraits for said Christmas cards.
Decorate the inside of the house with anything other than the tree itself, some random candles , and every single snow globe, nutcracker, and previous years’ Santa pictures (The boys literally scatter them throughout the house like a strange scavenger hunt and then I go through and try to group them in ways that look like we are actually sane.).
Shop at the mall. Not even one time.
Cut down our own tree.
Make Christmas Dinner (In fact we declared our new Christmas Eve traditional meal to be spaghetti last year because it’s the only thing everyone eats with any real confidence anyway.).
Feel guilty about the advent calendar that we only get to it once every 4-6 days. (I also refuse to feel guilty about the beautiful devotional that I bought to read with my boys every single night, but actually have only read to them twice while my little one bounced on the trampoline, and my oldest talked over me about chameleons.).
Crafts of any kind. Even the gingerbread house that always fails and caves in after four hours of labor is no longer on the list .
Wear Christmas themed or even red clothing, jewelry or accessories.
Try to surprise our boys with their gifts .
This is our list. It is what works for our family. You may do every single one of these things and love them. I love that for you. I think you should!
But for our little family of four, with all our beautiful messiness, this is how we are able to enjoy the season.
We celebrate more often and more joyfully, by saying no to anything that doesn’t bring us joy.
If you love it, and your family loves it, then by all means, leave it on the list . But if you, like me, are struggling to let go of the pressure to make the holidays bigger and better, please let me encourage you – saying no can be freeing.
Saying no always means I can then say yes to the things that matter to my family.
It means I can breathe a little, relax, and enjoy the traditions we do embrace.
It means I have time to reflect on why we are celebrating Christmas in the first place.
It’s working for me and for my loved ones. It may work for you.
So go ahead, make your list.
What will you NOT do to celebrate the holidays this year?