Christmas stress: Choosing Your Yes’s

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.

top of the stairs waiting to go down and see what Santa brought…we make them wait forever

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.

since we have a really large stone fireplace, I try to put a lot of focus on it.  Normally, the garland is lit but my lights went out. Ugh!

I bought this last weekend on our town square.  LOVE this piece
Ok, those are just a few of the things I don’t do.  BUT, I feel like we’ve had some things we’ve done over the years that have been awesome and beneficial.  It’s not that we have to do these things every single year without fail.  They are just ideas.  This year we have a busy December.  There is a lot I have already said I won’t do.  However, I’ve set aside a few things I value and think I can handle with the load of a marathon mid way through this month, traveling for Christmas, and studying for my PTC.  Here are a few of our traditions that I’ve loved and that sometimes only happen every other year.

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.

4.  Hosting my husband’s work Christmas Party.  Ok, so this is a biggy.  It’s about 40 people and it’s a lot of work, but I love it.  We started this last year and had a blast.  I love hosting people but in the busyness of life it seems to be this art we’ve somehow lost.  I feel like people just don’t get in each other’s homes as much anymore.  Why is that?  Growing up we always had big parties at our house or someone else’s around Christmas.  It’s personal and warm and easy.  Plus, it gets me into my husband’s world.  He’s at work 12 hours a day with this group of people and this allows me to be a part of that for a night.  It allows me to get to know the people that are with him day in and day out.  

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.

What are some traditions that you can’t skip out on every year?
What are some things you’ve had to let go of in order to keep the stress under control?

14 comments on “Christmas stress: Choosing Your Yes’s

  1. Shelly, I LOVE that verse. I love that God has equipped us all with different gifts, abilities, and passions. I love seeing how we’re all different and how we can encourage one another in those differences. You know that after this post my kids will ask for an Elf and I’ll totally give in lol!!! Thanks for reading!!

  2. Shawnee, thanks for reading!!! We red heads have to stick together=) There is nothing wrong with 5k’s girl. That is actually the hardest distance for me. I warm up at mile 4 haha. So needless to say I could improve A LOT in my 5k. Thanks for following along and good luck with your running!!!

  3. Thanks Mindy!!! So glad to meet another red headed runner=) I love your traditions, we love a good christmas movie night around here as well. It’s fun and simple. Merry Christmas and blessings to you to!!!

  4. Sheri, thanks for taking the time to comment!! Congrats on your most recent marathon! I’ve heard Philly is a great race. I know in a week or two I’ll want another training plan lol. And yes, the competition is everywhere but staying in your routine is awesome. Thanks again!!

  5. Great post! I think it’s crazy that we don’t embrace the fact that we are all so different. I mean how boring would it be in this world if everyone was the same? We do have an elf and I’m not going to lie I like it…but only because my kids like it. And honestly some days my husband is in charge and it’s somewhat fun to me when I don’t even know where to find him! I’ve been thinking alot about traditions because I really don’t feel like we have any set things that we do every single year…except for tamales..we always, always have tamales on Christmas Eve. I think God knew what He was doing by giving me laid back kids…they seriously are content with the fact that I don’t plan out our entire month and thank goodness because I think I have ADD and what I might want to do on December 1st may change by December 2nd. I found this bible verse awhile back and I pull it out often when I start comparing and not feeling like a super mom.

    Romans 12:6

    6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you.

  6. I found your blog when you did the Owning It post for Erika….seems like you and I have a lot in common from what I gather reading your blog. I LOVED this post and feel the same way you do about the cards, the elf and the decorating!!! 🙂 I’m a red head too and I run…but only 5k races. LOL I hate running but feel so good after I finish!!

  7. I am with you on the Elf on the Shelf! I mean, he’s a little creepy. But mostly, I have 3 elves who already make enough mess. 😉

    I really enjoy reading about your marathon training! I am self pep talking about when to run my first.

  8. Great post! We don’t do Elf on the Shelf either. There are also lots of “exras” (breakfast with Santa, specific light shows) that we don’t do because now that the kids are older it’s actually harder to find the time!

    I do TONS of baking (my thing) and put lights and Christmas trees everywhere and send cards, but it’s because those are the traditions we love. We also curl up and try to watch as many Christmas specials as we can. I hate the cold but love this time of year for the “hunkering down.”

    Love your blog, a friend recently found it and recommended it to me because I am a red headed runner too! 🙂 Blessings to you and your family!

  9. Love this post for so many reasons! I’ve read a few “stop comparing yourselves with other moms” posts, but I LOVE how you’ve made this a little more personal by sharing what you DON’T do and WHY, but also explaining the things you genuinely love to do – big and small. I think many women will be encouraged by this. Awesome post. 🙂

  10. Hi! I have been meaning to post for sometime now but just never gotten around to it. I love this post! I feel like it is such a competition all over social media to do everything under the moon during December. My girls are 4 & 2 and I have found they like simple and their rountine. So I am sticking to it.
    I am also a fellow runner! I just completed my 5th marathon in Philly last weekend. It was great! I took the rest of the week off from running but now I miss it. It’s so funny how you just want to be done with it during training and then you miss it when its over.
    Anyway, I am enjoying your blog!

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