Well, just as soon as the Halloween candy went on sale 50% off, the shelves were completely filled with all things Christmas. Everywhere you look you’ll see decorations, cards and holiday treats. Yep, the Christmas clock is ticking…..making moms everywhere begin to stress.
Time for another tip from my workshop The Holidays; A Time to Bless, Not Stress.
Re-evaluating the holidays.
About 10 years ago, I was one frazzled mom when it came to the holidays. The baking, decorating, Christmas cards, shopping, stocking stuffing and such had me in a complete tizzy. I was exhausted trying to create the perfect Christmas. And I wanted to include activities that I thought my kids expected. I also tried frantically to recreate some of my own holiday memories through baking and cooking things my mother had fixed when I was growing up. And, of course, I had to shop for the perfect gifts and stocking stuffers that would draw oohs and ahhs from my family on Christmas morn.
Face it. Moms often fall into this hectic, horrible holiday trap. And it leaves us feeling tired mentally and physically.
Well, that Christmas I had had it!
So, one wintry day, I called a meeting.
I gathered my family and decided to solicit their honest opinions about how we celebrate the holidays.
It was the best thing I ever did.
It also was a little scary.
Yes, I wanted to de-stress our celebrations and focus on the real meaning of Christmas. However, I also did not want to have my feelings hurt if someone piped up and declared that they didn’t like my famous dark-chocolate-peppermint fantasy fudge!
But ladies, I’m telling you, it REALLY helped me to zero in on what Christmas should look like at our house.
Not at your house.
Not at my neighbor’s house and certainly not at one of those perfect houses staring at me from within the pages of a decorating magazine or dancing across the TV screen of an HGTV show.
You see, each family is unique.
Our friend Kevin can’t imagine a Christmas without homemade fruitcake. He loves it. His father loves to get a loaf on Christmas Eve. In fact, Kevin pays me big bucks each year to make him two loaves of my famous, moist, fruity fruit cake.
They could do without said fruitcake. Only my hubby really likes it.
Well, that fateful year I rounded up the troops and asked them some pointed questions. When I asked my family to shoot striaght with me, I realized a few things that could go from our holiday routine. Now, each year we have another meeting. (We did it last week by Skyping in Mackenzie on the computer from Charlotte, NC!) Over the years, here are a some conclusions we have come to:
- There were traditions we were doing that my family could live without. Like rolling out homemade sugar cookie dough (one of my favorite memories from growing up) They only liked the frosting and decorating part ( “putting the sprinkles and silver “bb’s” on” said one of my boys) So I adjusted. I found already cut-out, baked and frozen cookies in the shapes of trees, bells and stars at Sam’s Club. They are yummy, the kids can decorate them and no big mess is made on our counters because they come pre-cooked. They also used to like attending a live nativity when they were little. Now, they’d prefer an evening at home watching a favorite movie like The Christmas Box, The Grinch or Christmas with the Kranks.
- Stocking stuffers they love and look forward to every year. They do not want me to forgo the fruit in the toe of their stocking, a carry-over from my husband’s days growing up. When he was little, he always got an orange. My three kids prefer a grapefruit, a mango and an Asian pear, respectively. They also do not want me to stop the practice of small, cellophane holiday treat bags with their favorite flavor of Jelly Bellies in them. They like fun flavors like strawberry cheesecake, pear, creme soda and Dr. Pepper.
- Traditions they want to continue. Having barbecue pizza at Grandma’s on Christmas Eve and then driving around to look at the Christmas lights; looking for the glass pickle ornament hidden in the tree on Christmas morning; adopting a needy family and then shopping for them; surprising bell ringers and grocery baggers by taking them hot cocoa or another holiday treat randomly one afternoon.
- Expected holiday activities they couldn’t care less about. One of these was a biggy. Are you ready? We stopped participating in the Christmas pageant at church (YIKES!) because it meant extra stress, lines to remember, Saturday morning practices and interference with family times with cousins. So about four years ago we stopped. The world did not end. Maybe a church lady or two thinks we are awful. We don’t miss it at all.
When we got honest about what spoke “Christmas” to our family, my stress level went waaaay down. If you too are frazzled, encourage your family to have a meeting too. Here’s how:
Gather everyone in your home. Answer the following questions. Encourage one and all to be honest in their responses. The goal is to discover your unique way of celebrating the holidays and help alleviate some of the Yuletide “Yikes!”
- What has been your favorite tradition that we have done over the years and why?
- What has been your least favorite holiday tradition and why?
- Have any adults share their favorite memory of their holidays growing up. Did it have to do more with money or with people, with getting or with doing?
- Can you think of any new tradition you would like to start celebrating and why?
- What holiday foods do you really love and most look forward to?
- What holiday foods could you do without?
- How can we divide up tasks during the holidays so all of the responsibilities don’t fall on already over-stressed mom?
Now sweet cyber sisters, do not get defensive if your clan tells you they don’t like your Kris Kringle Krispies or some other treat you make. Your goal is to lighten your stress load. That will mean less cooking if they don’t like those treats, right?
Trust me, mom. You’ll be glad you did this. And you’ll have a more stress-free holiday with more time to focus on Christ.
Let me know how it goes!