It All Worked Out

This year I made a conscious effort to change some things about the way I celebrated Christmas. It made a major difference in my exhaustion levels and in the quality time I spent with family. In fact, it went really well and made the Holiday merry and bright.

I did not put my tree up until the Saturday before Christmas. That is only 3 days before, but there simply was no time. There were no crowds at the tree farm and the tree was half price. I didnt have to remember to water it for weeks leading up until Christmas.Christmas still came and no one seemed to notice.

Christmas morning as I sat sipping coffee with family around the tree and by the fire, I noticed I only put half the lights I usually put on and later found 2 boxes of ornaments I left off the tree this year. No one noticed. But they did notice that I was calmer and less tired and more connected and engaged with every person there.

This year I only got around to baking half of the sweet treats I normally have but no one seemed to notice and there was more than enough and plenty to bag up and send home with the kids. Instead of baking I spent that baking time reading a book by the fire one afternoon. That’s what I remember about the Holiday this year. How I really enjoyed more downtime reading and going for walks and taking the time to stop and visit with neighbors I normally don’t get to see and catching up with what is going on in their lives.

This year it rained for two days and the firewood we normally chop was wet and couldn’t be used so we just made a fire with discarded wrapping paper and packaging from our gifts and it worked fine. No one seemed to care or had to spend an afternoon chopping wood and stacking it.

There were a few people I didn’t invite this year and no one seemed to miss them opening gifts we wanted to give them, as opposed to looks of disappointment because it wasn’t on the page long list they forwarded of what they wanted for Christmas. I let go of trying to please people who simply can’t be pleased and realizing that is about them and not me. They were probably happier and we sure were. All worked out well for everyone.

We forgot to do one family members stocking so last minute we gathered some things from around the house and she liked it more than ever and gushed about it being all of the things she loved. We got by and it worked out.

It was really refreshing to realize that I could do half the work but still have all of the fun and concentrate on the moments of magic made possible only through real life connections not the wrapping or the bows or the contents of the packages. Instead, it was moments on the front porch rocking chairs with a guest I haven’t seen in a few months. Just some one on one time. I had more time for these interactions because I bought premade mashed potatoes rather than spending an hour in the kitchen making them from scratch this year. No one noticed. I dont think anyone really cared.

At the end of Christmas Day I realized that all of the extra pressure I put on myself was all about me and my expectations and nothing about the others who come each year for family time and making memories together. No one really cares if I write their name on the packages or put a pretty tag. No one cares if I put out one nativity scene instead of six. What they did seem to notice was that I was happier and more rested and less stressed. Christmas came and went no matter what I did or did not get done. It all worked out just fine. Isn’t it interesting how it all works out in the end whether we fret or remain calm.

The moral of this story is that most of the stress we feel during the Holidays is self-induced. Hallmark Holidays is fantasy and comparing the reality of the season to these unrealistic goals is stress-inducing¬†to say the least. We will never measure up. The first Christmas was not perfect, in fact it was a hot mess.That’s reality.