It’s December 3rd. This means every time you pop on any social media sight, you are bombarded with Elf on the Shelf, beautifully decorated Christmas trees, Christmas cards that are stamped and in the mail the day after Thanksgiving, daily crafting, Advent calendars, school party pics and the list goes on and on and on and on. And on.
Here’s how I see it. We get on social media or talk to our friends, compare their successes with our what we view as failures, and then label ourselves as such. Failures. Come on girls. You don’t have to be on top of it all the time. You don’t have to have your decorations up the first week in November, or sign up to bring something for every kids party, or have an Elf on the Shelf(I know people love him, and he’s super cute, and I LOVE traditions that my kids can get into, but that Elf makes messes!! This momma does not have time for that. IF I ever get one, he’ll be a clean Elf who just hops from one shelf to the other. Watch me have one by next year and get totally into it. Anyway, I can’t even remember to be the tooth fairy for crying out loud. That Elf would be the end of me….call me boring. I make donuts on Christmas morning so that counts for something right?) and you don’t have to hold yourself to an impossible standard. You aren’t a failure.
When I feel the need to compare myself to other women, other mom’s, I have to remember to ask myself whose standards I am measuring against. Is it against God’s standards for ME, or the world’s? I feel like as magical as this time of year can be, it can also magnify all the things about ourselves that we don’t feel we do very well. Like me and wrapping. I put it off every year and it stresses me out. I really need to get that under control.
I see stressed out momma’s all around me and I can’t help but feel like we all need to give each other a break. Let’s all take a collective sigh of relief. We don’t have to do it all. I truly believe, deep down in my deepest parts, that we can enjoy this time of year without feeling like we can’t keep up or like we’re somehow doing our family a dis-service by not being it all and doing it all. We can simplify this thing called Christmas and maybe, just maybe, we would all enjoy it a little more.
How on earth do we avoid this stress? I’m not sure we can completely. If you are like me, busyness breeds stress. This time of year is busy. Some of those things you can’t avoid. Some you can. So, I’m going to give you a list of a few things I DON’T do each Christmas season, and a few I try to make a priority, even if it’s every other year ha!
1. I don’t do Christmas cards. Gasp. I just don’t. It’s something I don’t enjoy and dreaded every year I did it. I hate sitting down to do just about anything so sitting down to address and stamp pictures of my family that people will more than likely throw in the trash just didn’t make sense to me. Oh my gosh, please don’t hate me. If you are a Christmas card person, please keep doing your thang. We can still be friends ok? Your pictures are beautiful and I love seeing them, it’s just not my thing. And that’s ok, it doesn’t have to be.
2. I don’t do Elf on the Shelf. I kind of already explained this but it’s just not something we have gotten into. My kids have never asked, so we haven’t started it. I think he’s cute and it’s fun to see everyone’s Elf pictures and all the trouble that stinker gets into, but not in this house. We count down to Christmas with an old school paper chain like my sister and I used to make when we were kids. I still haven’t made it yet. Oops. It’ll just start out a little shorter this year. My kids probably think I’m so lame. Moving on.
3. I don’t sign up for Christmas parties every year. This one depends on my load for that particular year. Some years I feel a little more free to sign up for the kids parties, other years I have other places I need to place my attention. It’s ok. You don’t have to say yes to everything. You just don’t. I’m learning to choose the best yes, the most appropriate yes for my family and myself. Don’t get so caught up in looking like supermom that you choose so many yes’s that you end up overwhelmed and stressed and frazzled and miserable. Choose a few, do them well.
4. I don’t over-decorate. This is probably personal preference. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to decorate for Christmas. I’m a totally nostalgic person and I love the tradition that comes a long with Christmas. However, I don’t really enjoy my house being overly cluttered or spending tens of days putting up and taking down the decor. I keep it simple. Every year I buy one really cool and unique Christmas item and of course, we all get new ornaments. It usually only takes me a couple hours, if that, to put out my stuff. It may not be a lot, but I feel like I have some great statement pieces that are special to me, and the best part is I don’t have to spend days working on it….or taking it down.
1. Thankful bags. We did this last year and I LOVED it. In fact, my kids loved it so much(mainly the littles) that they asked to do it later in the year just because. We got some celephane bags and filled them with hand sanitizer’s, candy, ornaments, Sonic gift cards and several other little goodies. We put them in a box and put them in the back of the car. We handed them out throughout the month of November(clearly, this ship has sailed for this year) and gave them out to anyone serving other’s that we wanted to bless. Crossing guard, mail lady, UPS delivery guys, waiter’s and waitresses, trash man etc. The sky is the limit. We had fun and it was a great way to stop and bless someone even if it was just a small token of thanks. Plus, my kids could get in on it.
2. Family tree. I LOVE our tree. I buy ornaments every year for our family and the kids. Our tree is filled with ornaments from the past 8 years of parenting and 12 years of marriage. I also have a lot of ornaments from growing up. We decorate together and let the kids put on the ornaments. I know this sounds simple but I don’t get too into having a really fancy decorated tree(even though I see them and wish I could have one hehe). It’s a family tree. It’s FILLED to the brim with ornaments and each one has a memory attached. I love this.
3. Christmas Vacation. No. We don’t watch this with our kids. But, every year my husband and I pick one night, put the kids to bed early, get Pei Wei to go and curl up on the couch watching Christmas Vacation and eating Kung Pao chicken. Not super deep or spiritual or romantic, but it’s so. much. fun. It may sound ridiculous but I look forward to this night every year. It’s our thing. You gotta have things. My hubby can quote every single line…and maybe I can too.
5. Christmas lights from the car. This is something we have only done a few times. With 3 kids it seems we’ve only had a few years where everyone is up for this. So, this year I think everyone is old enough to do it. We’ll get everyone in their PJ’s, make hot chocolate and load up the car to go see Christmas lights. It’s simple and may sound silly, but it’s fun. And free. And totally doable.
Ok, so there you have it. Your list may look completely different than mine. You may love Christmas cards and HATE hosting big events. You may look forward to your Elf every year the way I look forward to decorating my mantle. You may hate Christmas Vacation, although I’m not sure how that’s possible. You may love spending days decorating your house but you can’t stand Christmas shopping. That’s ok. My thing doesn’t have to be your thing and vice versa. Find your “things” and do them well.
The point of all of this is to give yourself a break. Enjoy this time of year. For a lot of people, it comes with a lot of pain and heartache. For others, stress and more stress. But, under it all is the joy of the season and if we choose to slow down a bit, we may not miss it.