I love the Christmas holiday season. It’s almost the only thing I like about winter. I love the music and decorations and spending time with friends and family. I have more time to try new recipes or cook the ones that require patience to prepare.
I have learned over the years, many enjoy the holidays but are secretly hoping it will pass quickly instead of enjoying the moment. They get overwhelmed because they think about all the things that 'must be done' to celebrate 'properly'. They write a holiday family letter and send it and 100 or more Christmas cards to everyone they know. They dread having family stay with them for the holidays which means they have to clean and move things around. Many people love to cook and bake this time of year, but although this brings them joy , it becomes a chore for some because they feel they must bake dozens and dozens of cookies, brownies or special pastries. Most of us are not food caterers so many of us are not equipped to cook for very large groups yet, we feel compelled to do this during the holidays. One of the biggest causes of stress during the holidays is shopping. Many believe they must buy a gift for EVERYONE they think they may see during the holidays. They also feel a need to buy extra gifts to keep around just in case they forgot about someone. Whew!! Are we having fun yet or are we tired?
I love this time of year because I keep things simple. I do this by giving 3 gifts:
The gift of time. I don’t spend everyday shopping in long lines looking to buy everyone a gift. I focus on giving my time to loved ones. For example before I had children, I used to invite my niece and nephews to spend several days with me before Christmas. I recall one time I was out shopping with them and the older nephew was racing around the store with the younger nephew in the cart. I recall saying, 'you are not in control , come over here!' only for a passerby to say, ‘seems like they are are.’ LOL!! Once I had my own children, I invited my children’s friends and their siblings to spend one night with us. It was a giant slumber party. It was fun and exhausting, but I enjoyed giving my friends the night off close to Christmas so they could finish preparing for the holiday or just enjoy a date night out. Other ways you can give the gift of time are:
Watch a family favorite movie together
Play a Wii family friendly game together
Host an open house to see friends and family but remember to keep it stress free. Treat the food you prepare like a limited edition, only bake the amount that feels good to you. Also consider buying baked goods from a local entrepreneur. Cook dishes you love to cook in the amount you want to cook, not the amount you have to cook. Again think limited edition. Also with an open house, there is no designated time to eat. When the food is gone, it's gone and that's less to pack up at the end of the night. A side note about hosting. Some women are shy of hosting anything because they don't believe their space is adequate. It sounds cliché but true, put your heart into it and people won't care about your space, they're glad you had them over to spend time together. I learned this from my grandmother who had Thanksgiving at her home for most of my life until she passed. She lived in a one bedroom apartment, with a small kitchen & living room. She would host about 20 people! The grandchildren sat at the 'kids's' table which was set up in her bedroom. We loved it because we were away from the adults and could joke around without scrutiny. The adults sat at a table in the kitchen and living room with TV trays or the nicely dressed card table.
Another way to keep Christmas joyful and simple is to give thoughtful gifts.
One year I gave my family members a ‘remembering your spirit’ box. Years ago Oprah had a segment on her show called ‘remembering your spirit’. This segment inspired me to create a ‘remembering your spirit’ box. I purchased cute shoe box sized boxes and filled them each with a gratitude journal, and one or two little trinkets of things to encourage them to take time for themselves and reflect on the good in their life. I also wrote a note to each person about why I was grateful for them being in my life and the nice memories I had spending time with them.
One fond memory I wrote to my maternal grandmother was how excited my siblings and I were when we would see her green Nova driving up the street on hot summer days. We were excited because we knew we would get out the boring house and go swimming. Don't you have great memories to share with someone?
If you are compelled to purchase something think of buying a gift that might add value to the person’s life. If you know someone loves taking luxurious baths, then get nice bath salts or soaps. Also consider buying experiences like a spa day, an outdoor adventure like zip lining, paintball or group led vacation.
The last way to stay joyful over the holidays is to give yourself the gift of self-care. Say ‘no’ to some things. Do not schedule every bit of your free time. It’s OK not to attend every party you’re invited to. If you are going away for the holidays and perhaps staying with friends or family, be sure to get away each day to spend time alone. It may be going out to get a coffee or tea, taking a walk around the block, or going to the local gym to exercise. Even if the friend or family you’re visiting lives in a mansion, you might not realize just how much you miss being in your own space. Taking a short breather away will help you stay centered.
The holiday season can be filled with excitement or overwhelm you. This season choose Joy.
Joy Journey Nugget:
Give the gift of joy to yourself and others during the holidays:
Gift of time
Gift of thoughtfulness
Gift of self-care
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