“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be
seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. Wishing you
happiness.” – Helen Keller
T’was the night before Christmas and all through the house,
mothers were stirring — pots, turkeys, gifts, trees, carols, cookies, shopping
and all the rest of the fa la la merry go round! While visions of a perfectly
decorated home, gourmet delights, and well-behaved kids begin to dance in my
head, the reality is: my house looks
more like a tornado went through it, my cookies have burned, and my children
are out of control and on a total sugar high!
Enough with the holiday stress! Who says just because we are amazing moms who
love to create special moments that we have to double as Santa Claus and a
whole team of hard-working elves to have a happy holiday with our families?
It’s time to take a step back and reconnect to what makes
the season truly meaningful. Design your
holidays so they focus on celebration not expectation.
1. Create a budget and have some fun.
Holiday gift giving is a wonderful opportunity to teach your
children about budgeting and how to handle money. A good way to go about it is
to create your family budget for a specific number of gifts. Gifts should have
a price ceiling. Include your children in the gift budget discussions. Children
are naturally innovative and creative. Let them express this in gift giving.
2. Spend quality time with your holiday calendar.
The temptation is to always say “yes.” “Yes, we’ll come to
your party.” “Sure, I’d love to host the family potluck.” But packing every
moment with responsibilities is a recipe for burnout. Decide how much time you want to spend “out”
vs. “in,” and your own personal needs when it comes to your idea of a happy
holiday. As invitations come in,
schedule accordingly. Learning how to
say a graceful “no” can be a lifesaver.
“Thank you for your kind invitation, but…” You don’t have to get into
the nitty-gritty details of why you’re declining.
3. Give yourself a gift.
Building some “me time” into your schedule isn’t selfish;
it’s healthy and smart. At least once during the holidays, do something for
yourself: Get a massage, lock the bathroom door and enjoy a bubble bath, get a
sparkly red manicure, or splurge on the gorgeous sweater you’ve been eyeing (as
long as it’s within your budget!).
You’ll be surprised by how rejuvenated you’ll feel after spending a
relatively small amount of time and/or money.
4. Enjoy a silent night now and then.
Take time to unplug from distractions, including cell phones. Holidays offer us the opportunity to deeply
reconnect with one another. Have a good old-fashioned family conversation as
you trim the tree. Enjoy some hot
chocolate in a candlelit room. Attend a special religious service. Activities
like these will help you to reset, de-stress, and live in the moment.
5. Give your community a gift.
During the holidays, a variety of faiths emphasize service,
generosity, and love. Caring for others
connects us meaningfully to people outside of our normal circles. Try to find
something that’s age appropriate for your kids and that connects to their
interests. You might buy an extra bag of
dog food during a trip to the grocery store and drop it off at the Humane
Society, help an elderly neighbor wrap presents and decorate, or take cookies
to a battered women’s shelter.
Activities like this will remind everyone that it really is better to
give than to receive—and it will also help to counteract the shop-till-you-drop
frenzy that runs rampant this time of year!
6. Be grateful.
At a time of year when most children think they are entitled
to badger their parents with the gimme’s, gratitude is a great way to
counteract materialism and selfishness. Teach your kids to say “thank you” for
every gift they receive – even the three-sizes-too-small sweater from Great Aunt
Matilda! Set aside some time to talk with your kids about all of the positive
things that have happened in your family over the past year. You may be
surprised by what they remember and value!
It’s easy to focus on all of the trappings of the holidays:
decorations, lights, food, gifts, and more.
But at the end of the day, those things – while pleasing – are not going
to ensure that you or your family experience the “perfect” holiday. This season
is best enjoyed from the heart, not the wallet. It’s a time for creativity,
love, fun, generosity, and expressing those values in all that you do.