Ah Christmas. The season of love and joy.
Or is it?
I’ll be honest. I’m not a fan of the season. I don’t like all the shopping, spending and decorating. (Nor do I like the shorter days and cold weather.) However, over the years, I’ve learned how to re-create the holiday for myself — making it truly a season of love and joy. I thought I would share the ways I’ve changed it up for myself, and perhaps they may inspire you as well.
7 ways (I’m making) the Christmas truly a season of joy and love.
1. STICK to a budget. I used to spend more money than I had on Christmas that debt was always inevitable in January, February & March. My love for my kids was enormous, and so was my spending. However, spending more money than you have is never a good plan, as the pain of the bills in the following year can attest.
2. STAY out of stores. Online shopping and wish lists actually help me stick to a dollar amount. I’m not swayed by all the goodies that line the aisles in stores this time of year. And there are plenty. I’m not like my husband who can just walk by them. I see them, and suddenly I believe someone on my list needs them. I’ve already done 90% of my shopping online, and I’m UNDER budget. Woot!!
3. USE up what I already have. This one should be a no brainer for me, but every year I buy more wrapping supplies. Why would I want to store so much Christmas wrapping paper when it only comes once a year? Wrapping paper can fade over the years, and then it is unusable. Yesterday I pulled out everything I have and it appears I have enough to use for the next two years. No purchasing of new wrapping supplies this year. 🙂
4. DECORATE simply. Clutter causes anxiety for me. I like clean surfaces and non-cluttered spaces. I used to decorate every nook and cranny of my house. I spent more money than I would like to admit on garlands, wreaths, lights. By December 26th I was at my wits end, and needed to get it all down. It was that stressful for me. I used to think it was Christmas itself that caused the anxiety, but it was actually all the stuff. I now decorate using the KonMarie method. Does the decoration spark joy? If yes = Keep. If No = Get rid of. My decorations consist of one artificial pencil tree with all of my special ornaments, one decorated mantle with Christmas Vacation houses and characters, three wreaths, a tall snowman and a Nativity display. It’s the perfect amount for me.
5. CREATE traditions. We have several traditions that we keep alive and well every Christmas season. The one I love the most is Christmas Eve, where we all gather for a delicious meal, (pasta, shrimp and scallops, cannolis), and open one gift. Of course, there have been others when my kids were young, such as baking cookies, driving through a Festival of Lights display, watching Christmas Vacation and hunting for the perfect Christmas tree. Traditions, more so than gifts, are what makes Christmas so very special.
6. MANAGE expectations. I created my kids’ expectations for LOTS of gifts on Christmas morning. And honestly, they didn’t expect or ask for it. It was all ME. BUT the reality was that I couldn’t afford it. Those were high expectations, and ones I couldn’t sustain. Sometime in the middle of their childhood, when I was slowly changing the way I ‘did’ Christmas, I changed it up to giving each kid just 5 gifts: 1. Something you want, 2. something you need, 3. something wear and 4. something to read. PLUS, a Santa gift. They LOVED it. And for the first time, I stayed within my budget. Who knew it could be that easy?
“Turn your expectations into appreciation and your whole life will change.” – Tony Robbins
Which brings me to my last way, and perhaps the most important.
7. CULTIVATE daily gratitude. Remembering the reason for the season is very helpful in getting me through it with love and grace. Being grateful for everything I already have, will leave room in my heart for a peaceful, joyful holiday.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
If you are overwhelmed with the season, I hope these ideas helped you. If you have any other ways you like to celebrate, please share!