Do the holidays stress you out?

I don’t know about you, but I blinked and the holiday season is here. This time of year can be stressful with extra expectations and obligations. Don’t get me wrong; I love the whole holiday season! But between end-of-year work commitments, menu planning, family dynamics, extra social activities, religious celebrations, and shopping for Santa, it can be a lot, right?

As a mom, I’ve often set unrealistic (but well-intended) expectations for yuletide cheer. Over the years, I’ve tried to create the “perfect” holiday experience for our girls. I did it when they were toddlers and teens, and still catch myself trying to orchestrate December decadence for the people I love. Can you relate? The problem with this approach is that I stress myself out over details and attach myself to outcomes, which doesn’t generally end well…for anybody. My efforts are received like a bad fruitcake—dense, flat and utterly disappointing. Instead of basking in the beauty of the season, I’m left feeling exhausted and disheartened that my efforts didn’t play out as planned. And my family gets confused by my frustration and annoyed by the whole thing. So much for the Christmas Spirit!

I’m happy to tell you that I am still teachable, that I continue to learn from my mistakes. And this year I’m taking a different approach. It’s time to put the Elf back on the shelf, tame my own expectations, remember the reason for the season, and savor the simple joys. I’ve been talking with my family to decide which traditions are worth keeping and which ones can be tabled for another year. This year I’ll forget perfection and be flexible—open to new ideas and holiday traditions.

  • What about you? What are some of your traditions?
  • What do you do to make the season extra special?
  • Are you incorporating anything new this year?
  • Are you letting any past traditions go?
  • Have you found “hacks” to reduce stress and increase the fun-factor?
  • What have you simplified?
  • What is non-negotiable?

I’d especially like to hear how other empty nesters and folks with older kids come together to celebrate. Do you have any creative activities or tried and true traditions you enjoy?

We will still bake and frost cookies to share with our friends and neighbors. We’ll still get a tree. And you better believe I’ll start blasting all the holiday tunes the day after Thanksgiving. I can’t help it! From Santa Baby to Oh, Holy Night, I love ‘em all! But we’ll also build in some downtime, to drink cocoa and sit by the fireplace. To just watch the twinkly lights on the tree. We may even buy donuts instead of fretting over a fancy brunch. I’m going to honor my theme of the past year and “Do Less Better” this holiday season.

My wish for you is that you too are able to slow down, give yourself a little grace, and savor the special moments of the holidays. Instead of trying to do it all and create the perfect experience, I hope you can also “do less better” by choosing a few special extras that help make your season merry and bright.

From our home in Minnesota to your home wherever you may live, Happy holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate this time of year.

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