Learning to slow down during Christmas

Christmas Pic 2013 MaiaRight around Thanksgiving, my stomach begins to tighten in knots. Every year it comes a little sooner, in line with the ever earlier Black Friday deals. What to get people? Again the same people who I didn’t know what to get last year?  I hate to say this but a huge part of me hates Christmas. I end up using precious brain power thinking way too much over presents  and time schedules. It’s like a funnel for the next 3 + weeks of shopping, wrapping and planning all converging on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Admittedly, a lot of it is my fault. I tend to over analyze. I’m a non shopper. I don’t like to  make buying decisions. My husband gets whatever gift meets half the criteria. I land on the other side of the spectrum and over analyze each possible purchase. Not only is price important but also  if it’s useful to the person and is the best of the options out there? In the end, I often leave a store empty handed after an hour and half of thinking of the perfect gift for each person. I’d love to order on-line but can’t seem to get past the idea of not feeling the product.

With two little kids and a full work schedule, I’ve tried a different approach this year. Otherwise, I think was just going to combust in my own ball of stress and anxiety.  I had to focus (and refocus, hence the writing of this post right now) on what I really want to do.

Identify activities we enjoy and want to give time to:

1. Get a Christmas Tree

This was the first year we didn’t cut down our own tree. The thought was there, but really my kids are so little they don’t care. It’s getting the tree that matters. I can get over the fact that we bought it at a big box store. We tried a private tree lot but the people there were so  rude we made our way to Home Deport where 2 team members were so helpful and nice, that it even helped me get in the Christmas spirit.

2. Decorate the Tree

Pintrest is sometimes my own worst enemy. Seeing perfect decorations with different themes. For this one, I set iPad down. We decorated with hand me down ornaments. And colorful Christmas lights (I would have preferred white) just because little kids like color. So colored lights we had.  I let them put the ornaments up. Several of them broke. Oh well.

Maia Hanging ornament Dec 2013 6Maia Hanging ornament Dec 2013 3

3. Bake Cookies

After my failed attempt at making a simple sugar cookie recipe (the cookies tasted like cardboard) I asked for help. My mom is the master of yummy Czech Christmas cookies. I asked her to make the dough. We made non perfect cookies. Sometimes we decorated them (using jelly and cinnamon that we had on hand), and sometimes we didn’t. My kids are 2 and 4. There is always next year for more elaboration.

4. Look at Christmas lights

Thank you for all the families in our neighborhood for putting Christmas Lights up. It gives us a chance to get outside once more after the early sunsets and the kids enjoy it. I would love to make it to some sort of light event at the Botanical Gardens or the Zoo, but really if we cover several nearby blocks my kids will experience the magic just the same.

5. Sing Christmas Songs

Having run out of songs I know in Czech (I’m trying to teach my children the language) I have been known to resort to Christmas Carols as lullabies  during the year. As such, they know some of the words when it really comes time to sing them. We stare at the Christmas tree, and let the music play. Only occasionally interrupted by a request for “Let it Go” from Frozen.

The above is really it. There is no more. I want to enjoy the season with my family. Those are the activities I want to do. Did I achieve all five above? Yes, we even went ice skating once. Did I still spend way too much time shopping for perfect gifts? Yes. I just left Target empty handed, but then again, they were sold out on anything Frozen related. But so it goes. I am working on myself but at least, I think I have the right focus. And that makes me happy.

What is your list of happiness this season? Have you made them a priority?



One thought on “Learning to slow down during Christmas

  1. Christine says:

    Thanks for the post. These are important experiences. This season was hard. Most of the holidays was out of our control. We went to Florida to visit family for the week of Christmas. We did the gift exchange for the first time in years except for my husband and i. I made some gifts and that felt great but otherwise it felt a little weak. Seeing family was great but managing every persons needs especially around food was hard and stressful. Coming home was nice but we didn’t have any decorations and I couldn’t participate in much of the sweet eating. Next year, right. I love you made a list of the experiences you all wanted. Great idea for next year. Thanks.

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