I didn’t really notice until it smacked me in the face. I don’t enjoy Christmas anymore. With all the hustle and bustle of the season, I wasn’t taking time to enjoy it.
So Much To Do, So Little Time
Outdoor decorations. Indoor decorations. Picking out the live tree. Getting it home. Putting it up and decorating it. Shopping for presents. Mailing presents. Baking cookies. Gingerbread houses. Visits with Santa. Planning and preparing the perfect Christmas morning breakfast, the perfect Christmas Eve dinner and the perfect Christmas dinner. I used to enjoy and savor all of these things. Now, I frantically cross them off a list. It’s just too much at an already hectic time of year—an increase in school projects, school programs, recitals, final exams, class parties and extra activities of all kinds.
It slowly crept up on me, this feeling of stress and pressure around the holidays. I know that not having a partner to share the extra tasks and activities with adds to that stress. And I don’t help by putting pressure on myself to make sure the season has all the things I feel should be part of the festivities. That my kids don’t miss out on anything because I am one person trying to do it all. I make sure their Christmas is as unaffected by that as possible.
Christmas, To Survive or Enjoy?
The end result? Christmas has changed from a season filled with family and friends gathering to celebrate into a frantic period spent racing to check off all the boxes.
It’s not fun or enjoyable. It’s just a period of extra stress. And I’m growing to like it less and less, let alone look forward to it.
I hate to admit it, not even to myself. Seeing it here, written in black and white, makes it even harder. But it’s the truth. It’s my truth. The sad part is, I don’t know how to fix it. I feel like if I do any less, then I have somehow failed to give my children the most perfect Christmas I can. How can I do less for them than I have always done? Regardless of their increasing schedules, the fact that I am stretched in more directions every year, and that I do it more and more all on my own, I keep asking myself how I can do less than what I have always done. Doing less than perfection is failure, right?
Sometimes it’s hard to let go. It’s hard to let go of how it’s always been done. It’s hard to draw a new picture, to create a new normal, new traditions. But I’m learning.
This Year? Skipping Christmas…
This year, we will be skipping Christmas.
It’s okay, you can be shocked. I didn’t really do it intentionally. It kind of snowballed on me. But as the snowball got rolling, I couldn’t hold back from giving it a push…
We’ll be travelling this year, not at home. And we’ll be in a completely different environment.
I won’t have time to bake the cookies.
I was asked if we should try to acquire a tree and ornaments, my answer was no.
We’ll put out the stockings. There will be gifts, both for the children at home and for the family afar. But gifts will be smaller—as anything given will have to be shipped home. Holiday decorations? We won’t be there, so why bother?
As I am looking ahead to Christmas this season, I realize that I’m not missing all the Christmas trappings. I am actually looking forward to doing without them. That’s a bit of a clue. A really big clue.
I’m tired. I’m tired of running around, trying to do everything I think everyone needs to have the perfect Christmas. So this year, I am not going to. But I am going to pay attention and listen. I’m going to listen to what my kids miss about the season. While we will have plenty of things that keep us busy in this season, I am also going to take advantage of this year’s crazy Christmas season to figure out what is really truly important to my kids. Then next year, I am going to make sure that I give them those things they really feel are an important part of Christmas, and let the rest go.
Let It Go!
Letting go of the extra, what they don’t miss, isn’t a failure. It’s paring things down to what is truly important. The most important parts of the Christmas season are remembering why we are celebrating, gathering with friends and family, and enjoying time with each other. How we do that isn’t as important as making sure we enjoy what we actually do. That we all enjoy it. That what we actually do isn’t just to cross items off the list.
So, to find out what’s most important, I’m skipping Christmas this year. Or at least, the million activities that surround it. We’ll see what next year brings. But, regardless of the activities, I’m going to make sure that I get to enjoy it. I want my memories of Christmas with my children to be of happy times, not just a frantic race to get it all in. Because Christmas memories aren’t just for the kids. It’s my Christmas too.