This whole year has given me more anxiety and stress than I have ever had in my life. And then the holiday season starts. Listen, I usually love this time of year. If you know me, you know this is MY time to shine. I love the colder weather, the glittery decorations, and the warm gatherings of loved ones.
But this year, I’m just not feeling it.
What I really want for Christmas is to feel like things will be back to normal again in the near future, and maybe a full night’s sleep more than once a month. And that’s okay! It’s okay to feel overwhelmed this year and to want a break from all the crazy holiday frenzy. This is why this year I have decided that we are letting go of some of our holiday expectations and having a happy, no-stress Christmas.
Creating a no-stress holiday season
First off, I’m not doing Christmas cards or pictures. Guys, seriously, the first couple of times I did the cute Christmas pictures with my daughter I was so excited, I had the backdrops, and the new Christmas dress, and props. Then, as years went by and she became less enthusiastic about having to pose for pictures, and her brother came along and decided he only liked eating props or crying that his sister took something from him, I was over it. Last year, we were in Florida visiting family and I wanted to do cute Christmas beach pictures. They all turned into children running into the water, getting covered in sand, and crying that they were too cold. Needless to say, I will not be attempting pictures this year.
Secondly, I’m not having a holiday gathering. My family lives over 800 miles away, so we usually don’t see them in person on the holidays anyway, but we always try to have some of our close friends that live here over the week before Christmas to celebrate. I love my friends, but with the CDC saying this winter is going to be a hard one to get through with COVID-19 numbers going up, we’ll be celebrating the holidays as a nuclear family with some video calls throughout the day.
Third, to go along with the video calls, I will not make my kids sit through long video calls with relatives that they don’t want to be on. This past Thanksgiving we were video chatting with family when it became obvious my four-year-old was done. I tried to keep him on long enough to say hello to everyone but when the phone was passed to his great uncle, who is a very friendly guy, my four-year-old simply said “Happy Thanksgiving! Goodbye.” And hung up the phone. I will not be making this mistake at Christmas. My kids have a very short attention span with phone calls, so as long as they say Merry Christmas to their grandparents, I’ll probably call it a day after that.
Fourth, shopping! I usually love picking out gifts for my friends and family, and the internet has definitely made that so much easier over the last few years. I’ve even been told more than once that I’m kind of a gift guru, but I just don’t have it in me this year. So, unless I have an exact list of what you want, you can probably expect a gift card from me because I’m too tired most days to think of what I need, much less what 20 people on a Christmas gift list might want.
Last, I really want to let go of my expectation that everything must be perfect for my kids this year. This year is different, and it’s something I’ve had to repeat to my children many times. In Charleston, we have the luxury of the Holiday Festival of Lights, a drive-through parade of holiday lights through the James County Park that we attend every year. When my daughter found out that we couldn’t get out this year and walk down the lanes of lights they usually set up in the forest she was heartbroken. We had to explain to her again that this year was different, but we would still have fun. And for a minute I was worried it wasn’t going to be fun. I thought the kids would cry when we didn’t get out of the car, and we would miss roasting marshmallows and riding the carousel at the festival. I’m happy I was wrong. The park gave us a light scavenger hunt for the kids to do while we drove around, and they laughed and had fun the whole way home.
I really hope you don’t think I’m being a Grinch about these things. I really do love the holidays, and all the happiness it brings even in the weirdest, most confusing of times, but 2020 might be a great year to start something new. A smaller more intimate type of holiday where we can really start to focus on what we have and what is important to us. I hope everyone has a safe, and warm holiday season filled with old and new traditions to make the end of the year joyful for you.