07 Dec 12 Ways to Have a Stress-Free Christmas
Matching pajamas, car rides to see all the lights, luminary walks, hot cocoa, baking days, and magical moments. These are all things I thought would create the PERFECT Christmas. What you didn’t see me post on Facebook was complaints about the pajamas, whiny kids who were too squished in the car, a sold-out luminary walk, kids who didn’t want the special hot cocoa, no one wanting to have a baking day, and a whole lot of teary moments.
Why? Because I had Hallmark expectations for the real world. Am I still going to try and create unique, magical, forever talked about Christmas moments this year? Yes. Why? Because I’m a mom on a mission. However, I’m a mom with more realistic expectations – 12 of them actually.
12. So long, social media. Hello, family, I’m not posting on social media in December. At all. I want to enjoy every single moment of the holidays, the good and the bad (but could we all pray there’s more good than bad?). And I don’t want to compare my fun holidays with yours. Enjoy your family and friends, and let others enjoy theirs.
11. Do what we love, love what we do. There are a few things the kids love (and expect) to do over the holidays. Instead of adding more, I’m going to stick to those. Why mess with a good thing? Unconventional or traditional, do what creates joy with your family and friends – and keep it simple.
10. The tree. Listen, my tree will never be on the cover of a magazine. I don’t understand garland and my ornaments don’t really go together, but the kids don’t care (as long as there are candy canes). Now what I do love are lights and candles, and that’s what I’m going to focus on. Don’t decorate for others, do it for you. And if you don’t want to decorate, don’t do it!
9. The Elf. You know it had to come up! I did it. I played the game for 2 years. I can never get those years back. I couldn’t keep up with the elves in other homes (I tried!), and I was super glad when he retired from our home. If he stresses you out, maybe he needs to go back to the North Pole; you’ve got the house handled. Don’t start traditions based on social pressure!
8. Pies, Cookies, and more! My mother is a holiday baker, spending evenings and weekends making cookies and treats we’d eat all month long. There was a time she just didn’t have time, so you know what she did? She bought homemade treats from a friend – no stress, with the same reward. If you need to buy a stress-free activity, do it!
7. Party pooper. You don’t like that holiday party you go to every year? Chances are, the others don’t either. Skip it and don’t feel bad about it. No one will remember in a few weeks. Focus the holidays on the few friends and family who genuinely fuel your heart. Intimate moments can have more benefits than large group times. Let go of the guilt and focus on the good.
6. Gimme, gimme! I think about this a lot when I am purchasing Christmas gifts. I remember maybe 2 things I got for Christmas as a kid (sorry Mom and Dad!). Instead, I remember the family get-togethers, Santa coming to the house in a snowmobile, and being surrounded by my cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents. People will forget what you purchased for them, but they’ll remember how you made them feel… Focus on the time spent together.
5. Holiday eating. You know every dietician and gym enthusiast is terrified about my next sentence, but really folks… loosen up a bit and eat that slice of pie (I didn’t say 6 slices!). There’s indulging and over-indulging. Allow yourself to enjoy some treats!
4. Shopping for Deals. You do realize that people in other countries are fascinated by this practice? Not because it’s fantastic but because we all look like rabid dogs going in for the kill of the $25 microwave (or whatever). This is marketing at its best. See item 6.
3. Christmas morning! Let’s be honest, Christmas morning is a lot more fun with younger children who think the boxes their gifts come in are special! I made a pact with my kids a long time ago that if they received something they didn’t like, they needed to at least thank me. Then we can talk about exchanging it with no feelings hurt (a small twinge of hurt for me, but I move on). Accept that you aren’t going to get it right all the time, and that’s okay (and now feel free to return what they give you too!).
2. Volunteering and such. The holidays bring out the best in us (most of us), and we want to give back in one way or another. Sometimes it takes some talking into with the family, and that’s okay. Don’t expect everyone to want to serve others. It’s okay for there to be some grumps in the group; eventually, they’ll come around. Or it’ll be a great story to tell your grandkids in the future!
1. The Reason for the Season. There are times when all the things that make the Christmas season what it is, suddenly collide, and you are left with an overwhelmed heart and a burdened mind. Take a minute. Rest in it. Take a step back and breathe. This time that you’ve prepared for weeks or months would not be happening if it weren’t for the arrival of a baby boy so many years ago. This simple birth with little fanfare, in an obscure corner of the world, ended up changing the future forever. Let it go and let Him.
Celebrate Jesus at Legacy’s Christmas Eve services on December 24.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be on his shoulders, and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
Renee Beste is a wife, mom, marketing manager, and lover of Jesus, chaos, and fun.