This holiday season, let us treasure what is truly important in all our lives: the reason for the season.
The Danger Of Coveting A Magazine Christmas
Whether you scroll through Pinterest, flip through your favorite magazine, or see holiday ads on TV, perfect versions of Christmas are popping up everywhere during the fall and winter months.
While they are nice to look at and can serve as inspiration for your own holiday decorating, cooking, and gift giving, there’s a hidden danger in these perfect depictions of Christmas that you need to be aware of.
The key word here is “perfect”. When you’re looking at these holiday images you’re presented with, there’s a real danger that you start to expect your own family Christmas to have the same look and feel.
That’s about as realistic as wanting the perfect, air brushed body that the model on the latest fitness or fashion magazine has. Coveting a magazine cover Christmas will only lead to disappointment and a feeling of inadequacy.
While we may intellectually know not to expect the perfect holiday display in a family with young children and pets, we may still subconsciously want it after seeing these perfect holiday visions all around us.
Since we can’t realistically have a perfectly decorated home, or color-coordinated tree with designer ornaments, we end up feeling disappointed when we look at the macaroni ornaments on our tree.
When we fall into that trap, we miss out on a lot of what makes Christmas so special. It isn’t about perfection,gourmet food, and color coordinated ornaments.
It’s about sharing a special time of the year with our loved ones. It’s about sharing memories and making new ones. It’s about baking cookies, giving gifts, singing Christmas songs,hanging lights, sipping hot chocolate, and make more of those beautiful handmade ornaments with the kids. It’s about being a messy, loud, and happy family enjoying Christmas together.
Don’t let this idea of perfection take the joy of the holidays out of you. Go bake some cookies and make a big mess. Hang those construction paper ornaments with pride. Get out all the little decorations that remind you of your childhood.
Crank up those holiday’ tunes and then nestle up in the couch with some hot chocolate and sugar cookies to watch “The Year without a Santa Claus”. Who cares that there are crumbs in the blanket and one of the lights on your tree is out. What counts is that you’re having a good time.
This year, instead of perfection, embrace coziness, happiness, and love.
Christmas Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect To Be Enjoyable
If you believe popular media and holiday guides, you may think that everything to do with Christmas from the tree and decorations, to the food, and even how you wrap your gifts has to be perfect.That’s simply not true and deep down you know this. Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect to be enjoyable.
Wonky cookies taste just as good. Handmade ornaments with their flaws are charming. Mix and match holiday decorations reflect your style, your family history, and bring back lots of lovely memories.
A burnt pie or an under cooked turkey may seem like a bit of Christmas dinner disaster, but they also give you stories you’ll retell and laugh about for years to come.
Stop striving for perfection. Instead,focus on enjoying this lovely season. At the end of the day, it won’t matter to your children, spouse, siblings, or grand kids how perfectly you wrapped their gifts.
What matters is that you chose something meaningful. Don’t spend hours upon hours getting the tree decorated just right if it stresses you out. If you’re enjoying it, by all means go for it, but don’t force yourself to create a picture perfect holiday home.
Instead, turn on some Christmas music, get the kids, and have fun decorating the house.
Then pile everyone in the car with some hot chocolate and go look for Christmas lights.
It’s also important to realize that we all go through tough times. Some Christmas will be lot more challenging than others. Maybe there was a death in the family. Maybe you lost your job right before Christmas. Maybe the water heater broke at the most inopportune time.
It happens and while there are thousands of things that could happen that could potentially ruin Christmas, how you react to any of them is up to you. Some years, you simply make the best of it and move on.
Do what you can to give your loved ones a good Christmas, and chances are doing so will help cheer you up as well, no matter how big the challenges you’re facing. It’s often the unusual Christmas that will standout and matter most to your little ones.
It’s Not About The Big Presents And Fancy Decorations
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Christmas isn’t about the big presents and the fancy decorations. It also isn’t about cramming as many holiday activities and festivities in during the month of December as you possibly can.
It isn’t about having the biggest Christmas party, or the biggest tree. Instead, Christmas is about spending time with loved ones, exchanging meaningful gifts, and enjoying each other’s company.
And let’s not forget about the spiritual aspect of this holiday that often gets lost in the hustle and bustle of our commercialized holidays.
Slow Down This Holiday Season
Start by slowing down this year. It’s hard to enjoy this very special season when your calendar is so full that you’re simply rushing from one event to the next. Instead of aiming to fit it all in, do it all, and go all out on everything from decorating the house and yard to hosting various Christmas parties, slow down.
Take a breath and look around you. Enjoy this time with your family. Snuggle up on the couch and watch a favorite Holiday movie. Make some macaroni ornaments with the kids. Take a nap or sip a cup of peppermint mocha. Slow down and soak it all in.
If you take the time to make meaningful memories, you have something that will last a lifetime.
Scale Back On Everything
The biggest problem with doing too much and having too much is that it all loses meaning. This is particularly true around Christmas. “Go big or go home” doesn’t really work well.
A couple of well-chosen presents is much more memorable than a big pile of 25 to 30 things that looks impressive at first glance.
Instead of going all out with the decorations, do a few things well and chose items that have meaning to you and your family. Instead of buying more and more gifts, set a limit and spent both time and money on quality instead of quantity.
Instead of hosting huge Christmas dinners, fix something nice for the people that mean the most to you.
Focus On The Truly Important Stuff
In other words, force yourself to focus on the truly important stuff. What do you want to remember come February? Who are the people you want to spend this special season with? What holiday events and gatherings are most important to you and your family? Focus on the truly important stuff, be it spiritual or just for fun and enjoy this holiday season.
A Case For A Simple Christmas
Have you thought about simplifying Christmas? What I mean is to have a holiday season without the stress, without going all out on decorations, events, and gifts. Consider celebrating a much simpler Christmas this year. By scaling back and focusing on the more spiritual side of this holiday, you just might find more joy this season. As an added bonus, when you keep thing simple, you have a lot more time to enjoy everything this special time of the year has to offer.
Think back on Christmases past. Chances are that the ones that stand out the most were years when your family didn’t have the money for the fanciest decorations, lots of events leading up to Christmas Eve and mountains of presents.
Instead, if your family is anything like mine, the ones we remember are the years when we had little. I remember making garlands out of construction paper and stringing up popcorn to decorate the house.
We spent the month of December looking at lights, playing board games, baking cookies, and singing Christmas carols.The gifts were less expensive, but more meaningful and often homemade.
It’s those simple Christmases that stand out in my mind. They are some of my most treasured memories and the same holds true for the rest of my family.
This year we’re making an effort to keep it simple, and I’d like to invite you to join along. We’re not buying more decorations. Instead, we’re sorting through what we have, picking the things we love and giving away the rest.
The house is less cluttered and the decorations that are up stand out. As an added bonus it’s easier to clean and it will be much quicker to put away everything come January.
Our calendar is a lot lighter this year as well. We’ve chosen a handful of activities and events that I know we’ll enjoy. The rest of the time will be spent as a family, baking cookies,crafting, and watching our favorite holiday movies.
When it comes to presents, we’ve decided to implement the four gift rule. Each one of us will receive a total of four presents. One will gift will be something each of us really wants. The second one will be something we need, the third something to wear, and the fourth something to read.
If you prefer, you can combine two of the gifts (something they need and something to wear), and make it a three gift rule to represent the three gifts the wise men brought to Jesus.
Christmas Traditions Are Important
What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions? We all have them and they may just be more important than you think. Traditions like putting up the tree on the day after Thanksgiving,buying a special new ornament each year, or opening one gift on Christmas Eve are a special part of the holiday season. While we share many traditions, we also have unique twists on them. Maybe it’s making pizza on Christmas Eve or pulling out the boot on December 5th. Maybe it’s having cookies and hot chocolate for breakfast Christmas morning, or heading to Waffle House after Midnight Mass.
No matter what traditions you have –traditional, or quirky, they are the glue that binds us together during the holidays. They help us share celebrations with our loved ones and our community.They give us a sense of belonging and help us mark important dates.
Even more importantly, they help us make memories. Think back on your favorite childhood memories of Christmas. Chances are that they are tied to Christmas traditions.Those traditions help us remember the meaningful events around them from one year to the next.
Another important aspect of traditions is that they are something we share with others. Creating and following through with traditions helps us strengthen and nurture relationships.
That’s why it’s so important to blend and come up with new family traditions as you start your own family. You take the best traditions from each side, blend them, and then come up with a few of your own.
You’re creating you very own set of family holiday traditions that will bind your little family together. Of course we also share traditions with the larger community like church service on Christmas Day, or the city holiday parade. They are events where we interact and meet others in our community. They make us feel part of the city, group, or church.
Take a minute to think about your own holiday traditions. What do you do year in and year out? Is there something you have to do or have or it doesn’t feel like Christmas? Nourish those traditions and pass them on to your children.
If you don’t have a lot of traditions yet,there’s no better time than the present to start them. And don’t stop at Christmas. Traditions can be shared throughout the year.
Build a sand castle during summer vacation, make Thursday night, pizza night, or play board games on the first Sunday of the month with friends. Embrace traditions and see for yourself how they can enrich your life and your relationships.
Finding Joy During A Stressful Holiday Season
Between the school’s holiday play, work obligations, Christmas parties, and gift shopping, the weeks leading up to Christmas can be a very busy and stressful time. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and rush through your busy days. When you push hard to get it all done and keep up with the Jones’s, you may find yourself tired and exhausted on Christmas day, realizing that you’ve blown through the entire holiday season without stopping to enjoy it.
There are a few little simple things you can do to make sure that doesn’t happen. If you’re ready to make sure you can enjoy this holiday season, no matter how busy you are or how much pressure you’re under, keep reading.
Stop And Smell The Poinsettias
When you’re busy, it’s hard to notice the fun little things this season has to offer. Challenge yourself to stop at least once a day and “smell the poinsettias”. Take a short little break to enjoy a cookie and your favorite cup of coffee.
Spend a few extra minutes when you’re driving home with the kids in the evening and go look at lights. Turn on Christmas tunes and sing and dance through the house.
Just stop and have some Christmas fun for a few minutes. It’s a great stress buster.
Get Your Own Little Elves
Santa doesn’t do everything on his own,and neither should you. Learn to delegate both at the office and at home. Have your assistant compile the report for the boss, and get the kids to help with cleaning up after dinner. If you’re really sneaky, you can even get them to help with wrapping their siblings’ presents.
When you get some help with some of the things you have to get done, you’re freeing up a little time here and there to enjoy the season. There is no better time than the present to get good at delegating.
Making A List And Checking It Twice
Last but not least learn to prioritize. Make a list of what you need to get done today, this week, or before Christmas. Prioritize it and then go back and check it again.
Strike out anything you don’t really need to do. It’s amazing how freeing cutting tasks and things out of your life can be. There are a lot of things we do just because we’ve always done them.
When you stop and challenge yourself to focus on the important stuff, it becomes much easier to cut out busy work. That in turn greatly reduces the length of our to-do list and with it both the time it takes to get everything done and the stress we’re under.
Follow Santa’s example and just like him you’ll find joy in during this busy holiday season.
Comment below and tell me what you are doing this year to make Christmas meaningful!
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