Sometimes I secretly hate Christmastime.
There, I said it. Just don’t tell my kids, I don’t want to ruin it for them. Although they probably already know how stressed I get during the Christmas season. Every time they change the number on the “Days Until Christmas” countdown chalkboard I let out an audible gasp followed by, “Oh my gosh, what?!” I can’t help it. The big day just comes at me so dang fast. And there’s so dang much to get done.
I mean, Christmas is great and all.
Buddy the Elf was right when he said, “Christmas is the greatest day in the whole wide world.” But it’s the month leading up to it that I have a hard time with. It’s such a magical and exciting time…until you realize you’re the one that’s responsible for making it magical and exciting.
I’m the one who does it all in my family because I’m the one who cares that all those dang traditions happen so my dang family can feel the dang magic of the dang spirit of Christmas, dang it!
It’s not like there’s any pressure or anything.
Just be sure to make everyone’s dreams come true. And if your family is like mine, your kids absolutely HAVE to have a certain gift. So Santa (you) secretly gets it for them, excitedly hides it in the closet, ecstatic that all the Christmas shopping is actually done before Christmas Eve, and then BAM! you’re hit with a ton of fruitcake bricks when your dear little sweetie changes their mind and simply HAS to have something ELSE for Christmas.
Now, in my house, Santa doesn’t do returns, mad dashes to get the must-have toy of the season, or apology letters for failing to do so. But Santa IS worried that the kids will stop believing in him if they don’t get what they really want. Because Santa (still you) is responsible to make that magic happen even if it kills him (or her).
And that’s just the shopping. There’s baking treat plates to give to neighbors, attending holiday performances, stapling lights (and hopefully not your fingers) to the side of the house, watching your least favorite Christmas movies (my family makes me watch Home Alone and geez, Kevin Mccallister’s family is THE WORST!), and approximately 5,648 other holiday traditions that are utterly non-negotiable..
You decorate, bake and wrap ’til you’re red and green in the face and drowning in tinsel, sugar and tape. And if you don’t, you’re a humbug. A Scrooge. A heartless ice witch. And a failure as a parent and a human being.
I was super depressed one year and I didn’t have the slightest desire to do one single Christmassy thing. It was a sad, horrible feeling. And I felt trapped because I knew I had to deliver on all the magic and traditions anyway. But I realized something.
We could have a magical merry Christmas without losing our dang minds.
How? By NOT doing all the traditions.
Like those fruitcake bricks, that word (tradition) is so loaded and heavy. TRADITION. It means your family past, present and future will be bitterly disappointed in you if you don’t deliver on the TRADITIONS and the magical feelings that go along with them. It means you’re stuck. You have no choice, no options, and no way out, ever. I imagine Tevya from “Fiddler on the Roof” bellowing the word TRRRRADITION! at me and I want to cry. But guess what?
Not everything has to be a tradition. Seriously, it does not.
You don’t have to do the same things every year. Try doing only a few things. Or one. Or a half. I speak blasphemy, I know. For those of us who grew up with a bunch of those dang TRADITIONS, there are a lot of daunting tasks that seem indispensable. Dispense of them anyway.
Cut out anything you don’t want to do if you’re just not feeling it.
Only do your favorites. Or the ones you happen to have time for. Or the ones that keep your kids a step away from mutiny. Last year was BB’s first Christmas and everyone in our family has a homemade stocking with their name cross-stitched on it except for him. Guess who makes those? That’s right, me! Guess who had absolutely no desire to even attempt that last year. Right again! This year my kids were not going to let me get away with giving BB the tiny stocking people usually use for their pets again so I broke out my crafting skills and got to making. As a result I have no time, energy or desire to make the TRADITIONAL almond roca. Not even going to try. And I don’t even care.
For reals, though. Cut out everything but the essentials.
Be realistic with your time and abilities at this stage of your life. Maybe you’re working full time and you just don’t have any time left. Maybe you have anywhere between 1/2 and 14 1/2 kids and you just don’t have any energy left. Or maybe you really have nothing going on and you are too depressed to muster the desire. It doesn’t make you a scrooge. It makes you efficient with your abilities. Embrace the efficiency. It makes you look wise. And next year you can alternate and do the traditions you missed out on this year. It’s OK not to be consistent.
Remember to shop online.
This one’s a no-brainer. I think I bought like 3 things in stores this year. Everything else, and I mean EVERYTHING else was bought online. SOOOO much easier. And dude, in case you’re worried it won’t get to you in time for Christmas Day: Amazon Prime. If you don’t have it, get the 30 day free trial. Yes, that is an affiliate link, yes I could get a commission if you buy something from it, but no I’m not heartbroken if you don’t. I just want you to know about free 2-day shipping if you didn’t already. Because I’m serious about not going to store. That crap involves wearing pants, yo.
So friends, join me in my quest to bail on a few traditions and have a much less stressful Christmas. You need it. You deserve it. And let me know what your absolutely essential can’t-live-without-no-matter-how-tired-and-grumpy-you-are traditions are. I’d love to get some new ideas I’m not going to have the energy to try.