‘Tis the season for family and fun, but also for busy-ness, overscheduling, rushing and overindulging.
While the carols and commercials will tell us the holiday will be filled with steaming cups of hot chocolate, carols sung in harmony and beautiful packages with perfectly coiffed red bows, somehow it never pans out that way. At least for most of us.
Yesterday in a flurry of texts between my two BFFs we were chatting about the expectations and craziness of this time of year. My dear friend Melissa had this to say (little heads up on the language :)).
“None of it is important. We get the holidays all built up in our heads, like it was fucking Little House on the Prairie or Norman Rockwell. When in reality, life is much more like a Picasso painting, it’s fragmenting and jarring and joy only comes in bits and pieces so we have to grab about it when we get it.”
Melissa is right on target! I’ve become very selective as to what I want and don’t want.
What’s on my list this Christmas:
Hosting a beautiful Christmas Eve dinner for my family – Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the year. It starts with a 6 am trip to brave the Stew Leonard’s crowd, followed by brunch with friends (a 30 yr tradition), early evening mass, culminating in a delicious (if I do say so myself) dinner with family that I start planning weeks in advance. This is one meal I LOVE to put time and effort in.
Spending time with my nephews – Family is the priority and Christmas is most magical with kids, so I will definitely get to New Jersey to spend some time with the little guys. The photo is from our visit to see Santa over the weekend. Landon asked for football cards (takes after his dad), while Chase asked for a vacuum (clearly he has the DNA of his grandmother Hallett!).
Taking a day to wander around NYC to absorb the holiday spirit – This has become a solo annual tradition. The first year I had really planned to shop, but found that wandering and window shopping was very uplifting
Baking something delicious – I don’t make a dozen varieties of cookies and bury myself in a windstorm of flour and brown sugar. Baking does bring me joy though and I love to choose something, often from my grandmother’s old recipes, to bake each year and share with others.
Having a tree trimming gathering – This may be the beginning of a new tradition. We can’t go wrong with tasty food, good wine, Holiday tunes and special people. Not to mention extra pairs of hand to help with the work.
Volunteering – At my church, St. Jerome’s, there are wonderful ways to volunteer and I always get involved whether it is at the Soup Kitchen or sorting gifts for the Giving Tree.
What I won’t be doing:
Sending Christmas cards – I love receiving them. So keep ’em coming if it’s your thing. But for me it was one of those chores that I took on “because it’s what’s done” and I never really enjoyed it.
Dragging out every holiday chotskie to decorate every room – For me, less is more. I love decorating the mantle as well as the top of the piano, a nice wreath and a few other small items and I’m done!
Skipping my workouts – It’s so easy to get too busy to stay on track with self care and exercise. I’ll be attending lots of holiday events, and will schedule my workouts in around them.
Overspending – It’s more fun for me to get a little creative with gift giving and I no longer feel then need to spend more than my budget allows.
Accepting every invitation or trying to get together with EVERYONE before Christmas – It always seems that those invites to coffee or those “we’ve got to get together” emails grow exponentially this month. I drink coffee in January too. I even eat lunch in January. I don’t need to cram it all in in December.
By being clear on my boundaries and what I will give my energy to, I can enjoy the holidays rather than stress about them.
I challenge you to be selective about what’s on your Christmas list this year. In the wise words of Melissa, “joy only comes in bits and pieces so we have to grab about it when we get it”…..
Identify what gives you JOY and grab it!