Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dreaming of a Calm Christmas

I'm determined to have a stress-free holiday. That's kind of why I haven't been writing too much lately. That, and I 've come down with a tiny case of writer's block. It's not the worst I've ever had. I've actually thought of several topics to blog about in the last few weeks, but, when it's time to sit down at my netbook and type, I'm finding a serious lack of motivation.

This post is just to let you know how I'm making my holiday prep as free from stress and angst as possible. As a side benefit, it'll also let BlogHer know I haven't abandoned my blog (I haven't, really!). I forget what the contract says. We're supposed to post a couple times a week, I think. I'm sure I'll be back into the swing of things once 2012 rolls in!

Photo courtesy of Sullivan at Morguefile.
Here are my tips for a stress-free (or lower stress) holiday:

1. We've all read advice to drop what doesn't work for us anymore. Why hang onto things that cause us stress and anxiety? My decision to drop Christmas cards this year was me letting go of something that I dreaded doing. The holidays shouldn't be about dread, right? Anyway, it was a good decision. I feel very FREE with letting go of that task. Whew! I know someone else who said she's dropping baking this year. What are you dropping from your Christmas to-do list? You really don't have to do it all. Most of our modern Christmas traditions have nothing to do with the birth of Baby Jesus and everything to do with other people's expectations of what we should be doing.

2. Finish your Christmas shopping early. Okay, this task in itself may cause some stress. But, I got mine done last Saturday and it's a great feeling. In the spirit of full disclosure, I have some candy and toothbrushes to buy for the boys' stockings still, but everything else is done. If you're not done or not even close, I suggest you dedicate a day to the task. Shop on-line, in a mall or in Walmart, but press on and finish it! I've got just about two whole weeks stretching in front of me to wrap, bake and be jolly without worrying about what to buy anymore.

3. Simplify the decorations. How decked are your halls? Do you enjoy doing all that? If you don't, then drop some of it and stick to the basics. What's always added to my stress in years past was my feeling I had to have the house decked out in full holiday glory. No one helped. And, frankly, the boys and my husband don't care if we've got Christmas knick-knacks displayed or garland hanging from the railing. We've got the tree, the stockings, a nativity set and a few outdoor lights. That's good enough for us. And, the best part is they all helped. We did just what they were interested in doing. Anything above and beyond that didn't get done. A side benefit is our holiday decorations are much less cluttered looking than they have been in years past.

4. Do a little bit everyday until it's done. Just like cleaning up the clutter for 15 minutes a day works long term, so does doing a bit a wrapping, decorating or baking every day for the next couple of weeks.  It'll all get done, bit by bit. Who wants to stay up until the wee hours on Christmas Eve trying to wrap everything? Not me! You know that Santa won't come if you're not asleep, right?

5. Find quiet moments. I know how hard that can be when there's so much to do or when you've got kids swarming about, but it's crucial to find that calm feeling. Turn off all the lights except the tree lights and sit in the living room with a hot cocoa after the kids are in bed. Take a walk by yourself. Meditate. Do what you can to find a few moments every day that will help you feel more calm and less stress.

Believe you can find peace during the holidays and you will. 


  1. Good for you, Barb. I hear you about a simple Christmas.

    I mailed out Christmas letters and I see that many people are not doing cards or letters as usual.

    I stopped playing Wordscraper and Words With Friends on Facebook for the month of December.

    We had a Toastmaster Christmas party here last week. I just had to have help and so I had a cleaning lady come and for four hours she got cleaning done while I decorated. My tree artificial tree is up, with lights, but not decorated. My husband and I will work on it slowly.

    I mailed all out-of-town gifts yesterday. These included some unusual gifts such as a box of used children's books for my brother's grandchildren. They are just doing white elephant gifts on Christmas and this seems like it will fit with their plans.

    Gift cards are good to mail if you put them in a safe little box.


  2. I love your idea of breaking it down to 15 minutes a day. The holiday to do list seems longer than Santa's "naughty or nice" scroll at times! I have to keep telling myself that it will get done and if it doesn't it probably wasn't necessary. I hired a college student to help clean the house before we decorated. Also, while the kids were at a playdate, I took advantage of the time alone and wrapped gifts.