Monday, November 21, 2016

Simplifying the Holidays for Sanity's Sake

It's the MO-OOOOST wonderful time of the year. So many holiday festivities are filling up the calendar, it could make a head spin. For our family, Thanksgiving is this week, and Christmas is hot on its heels in just a few more weeks.

There are so many things to add to our to-do lists, aren't there? The shopping, the baking, the visiting, the caroling, the parties, the dinners, the wrapping, the decorating. While these can be the best of times, these can also be the times that try our souls. 

There is much to do, but it's important to focus on the things that bring us joy, and try to eliminate some of the things that keep us so busy, but perhaps are not our priority. While you're planning your strategic attack on the holidays, don't forget to pencil in some time to sit back, and just enjoy it, too.

I saw a wonderful graphic online, and would have considered putting up here, but the Grammar Nazi in me wouldn't allow the misspelled word the space on my blog. The sentiment was perfect, though: 

The Holidays Are Meant to Be Enjoyed, 

Not Conquered.

Managing two homes and juggling adult children's schedules takes some effort. For us, it means coordinating with in-laws, biological parents, and having TWO Christmas trees and TWO holiday meals. Just like Doublemint gum: "Double your pleasure; double your fun." We also get to double our preparations, and double our cleanup. It's all good, but I'm realizing that although I love holiday traditions, there are some I am willing to surrender.

One Christmas, I dragged my Christmas village down from the attic, and it sat by the sofa for days. The boxes were nice and Christmas-y, but were not providing the look I was going for. I kept thinking I would get around to displaying the charming buildings and figurines. It's not like I didn't have time; I was retired, after all. I just didn't have the energy, or the enthusiasm, for some of the details like I used to do.

As soon as I decided to not display the Christmas village, I felt some tension leave my shoulders. What a relief. So I removed the stimulus of guilt, returning the boxes to the attic, and got on with ENJOYING the holiday.

What is haunting you this holiday season? Greeting cards? Save some trees; perhaps a newsy Christmas email would suffice. Fancy wrappings for a mountain of gifts? Avoid the hassle of boxes, paper, and ribbons; invest in some gift bags to be reused each year. (I did that when I was working full-time, and it saved me so much hassle.) Big family dinner? Assign everyone an item from your menu, and enjoy the day with your loved ones.  

This Thanksgiving, we are hosting a family brunch for Chuck's boys, and a dinner later that day for his folks. My head started to spin when I thought of all of the preparations required for those two meals. Chuck gently suggested that not everything has to be made from scratch. He is right. There are a couple things I LOVE to make, like my rolls and cinnamon rolls (same recipe; SMART), and I will take the time to make those. There are dishes that are available at the store that are "ready-made" and "homestyle" that will be good enough, and sometimes trading our expectations of perfection for "good enough" can help us keep our sanity.

Ask yourself if there is something you could simplify, or even dispense with entirely, to make your holidays more about peace, joy, and love. Take a deep breath. Ask yourself what is most important to you. Take courage, and eliminate that frivolous task that's been hanging over your head lately. I bet no one will even notice. 

Wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays, and some time to simply enjoy them.


  1. It was a nice reminder as I dash about preparing for hosting this holiday. Perfect timing, Denise!

    1. We all need to be reminded from time to time, especially right as the frantic season begins. Happy Holidays to you, Via!

  2. I've scaled down Christmas for years now, but what is bothering me and messing with my inner peace is the carpet and the christmas tree. (Ha great blog title) I have to get the carpet ordered by Dec1 to get free installation. It throws off, my Christmas decorating...this year I really wanted to decorate. Guess it will be next year!

  3. I loved the reminder to do things that bring us joy. I love making things, and am thinking what that might be as I write.

    1. I look forward to seeing what you decide to make. I love wrapping, but most of our kids like gift certificates. I love baking, but with my goals, I need to give it all away!


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