Another holiday has come and gone. A good holiday. One full of gratitude, family, and thanksgiving. How was your holiday? I hope it was a day on which you could give thanks.
The holiday season usually causes me angst. I like the lights of Christmas, but I don’t like winter. Thanksgiving marks the end of good weather and ushers in the long winter and seasonal depression I push against. The holidays bring extra stress in an already busy schedule.
I used to approach the next several weeks rather Scrooge-like. A lot of work for one day that’s high on expectations. I’ve worked hard in recent years to get rid of Scrooge and find balance between the hype and Grinch. This year, I’m choosing simplicity as I enter the holiday season. Here are ten things I started this week to make the holidays more peaceful all around.
1. Limiting time on social media. While I appreciate my personal and professional social networks, I’m pulling back from time spent on them and posting. I’ve realized how much we (myself included) post everything about our lives and I’m declining from broadcasting every event of our holiday season. Spending the last five days away from other’s lives and enjoying my own has been a release I can’t explain.
2. Decorating with simplicity. I’m one of those people who keeps my lights and “winter” tree up until February. I decorate more for the winter than for the glitz of Christmas. This year, though, I scaled back on what I brought out for my winter and Christmas decorations. With only a few days with all of my children home, I didn’t want to spend most of my free time hanging up ornaments. While still sufficiently decorating, I kept “less is more” in mind and am pleased at the beauty of lights, candles, and simplicity.
3. Enjoying people. My kids were all home for vacation, which is a blessing not taken for granted now that Firstborn is on her own 10 hours away and #Two’s in college. I turned off my computer, sat and listened, and said no to non-family busyness that sounded fun.
4. Letting things go. The holidays bring all sorts of tensions, expectations, and reasons to argue or let people know you’re disappointed. While I’m not perfect in this department, I’m consciously working to let things go that normally would bother me.
5. Slowing down. For me, this includes saying “no” to things I could get done with extra time off – like writing, cleaning, or other things I’d love to get ahead on. Instead, I’m sipping coffee more, watching a few movies (a rare thing for me), and simply hanging out. For some of us, “hanging out” is a big deal.
6. Trying to live the holiday spirit daily, not just once a year. Perhaps my biggest pet peeve of the holiday season is that we make a big deal out of being kind, acknowledging Christ, and enjoying family. The older I get, I want to be kindler and gentler all the time and worship the Savior as a way of life. I’m not much for holiday Christianity. I don’t think Jesus likes it either.
7. Praying more. Another pet peeve around Christmas is the idyllic picture of what’s good in life. If you know anyone whose life isn’t so great right now, the holidays can make that grief or sadness even worse. There’s a lot that pulls people down at the holidays and also sends them scrambling for materialism to fill their emptiness. I’m choosing to pray for those of whom the holidays is hard, even if they don’t say so.
8. Smiling more and being a blessing. Whether it’s at the mall or at work, I’m trying to genuinely bring good cheer of my Savior to others through words and a smile. Will you join me?
9. Being kind to myself. The winter months brings less activity to my aging body and I don’t always handle this well. I’m trying to be kind to myself, letting myself know it’s okay and people still love me. This is a big thing as an overcomer of an eating disorder.
10. Really appreciating life. The marking of Christmas reminds me my children are older, as are my parents and everyone else around me. Instead of looking back and being sad over the loss of youth and years, I’m embracing this season for what it is – today. I’ve witnessed enough tragedy to know time spent over “what was,” “if only’s,” and “when” is futile. I’m thankful for this holiday season because I don’t know what next year or the following years will bring.
What are things you’re learning this holiday season? How are you enjoying the season or coping with challenges? How can I pray for you? Feel free to comment here, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peace on earth to you this week.