Christmas is time for love, faith, gratitude, family and reflection. Or, it’s not. It’s a time of stress, overwhelming hard work, traffic jams, family strife and navigating a gift giving matrix more complex than Calculus 3.
A few years ago on Christmas morning, I found myself constantly checking my watch. I wanted to be sure the kids were done opening gifts by 10am so I could start cooking the ham, etc. before my in laws came at two……… What it meant is that my mind was always on the next thing. Always working to make sure everyone was happy. The problem was I wasn’t really there. I never enjoyed that moment. I’m sure that everyone appreciated the freshly squeezed orange juice on Christmas morning followed by the homemade apple strudel but I was missing out on the whole holiday. I ran my life like a FedEx logistics manager that never left her job for a second. I wanted more. I wanted to enjoy my holiday time.
What reinforced this perspective change was asking the kids what the best thing about Christmas was. To my shock and little bit of horror it was not he OJ or strudel, but watching Elf while we filled out Christmas cards or helping put the lights up at the grandparents house. No one mentioned a well-honed schedule or beautifully wrapped packages or the intricate Christmas foods.
From this I resolved to be more present in my holiday. Christmas 2.0 was on it’s way. The first thing I did was ask everyone what traditions mattered most. I took note of that. Yes, continue baking gingerbread, driving around to look at lights and watch Christmas Vacation. I also vowed to start freeing up time in the Google calendar. Say no to more offers. No, we don’t have to attend every holiday party we are invited to. No, we don’t’ have to participate in 9 secret santa gift exchanges. No, you don’t have to __________. Give yourself permission to bow out of some things. Just because you’ve always done it is not a good enough reason to continue it. Reflect on the time this will take you away from your own family.
I also thought that rather than my baking being a to do item I should include the kids more. That homemade apple strudel might taste better if some memories were made while baking it. Make sure there is room in the calendar to make it earlier in the week and not at 2am on Christmas Eve.
My ultimate goal in life is to be the best version of myself that I can be. That includes being present with my family when it matters most. Stop looking at your watch and start living. I’m including a free printable to help you get started on revising your Christmas for next year. It’s now that you’ll remember what could have been better.
Merry Christmas for 2016. May it be calm and bright.