Getting in the Christmas Spirit: My Tips
This is our tenth Christmas being married (!), and it's probably the first Christmas I haven't spent the majority of the season feeling totally overwhelmed. In fact I've been feeling pretty festive.
A friend recently asked for tips on how to get into the Christmas spirit, and I thought I'd share what I've learned through the years--what works for me, and what doesn't.
Do things early. This is the theme of my life. I keep a list of gift ideas for everyone (including myself!) year-round, and come late summer/early fall, I watch for sales and start shopping. The wobble boards I got for my girls for their "Santa gift" this year were on a good sale late in the summer so I nabbed two of them, and it seems like they've been out of stock for much of the usual Christmas-shopping season so that eliminated some stress!
We also decorate early--I did the outdoor decorations a week or so before Thanksgiving this year, which as an added bonus meant it was still warm enough that my hands didn't go numb when I was stringing the lights, and we typically decorate inside the day after Thanksgiving.
By having the macro things organized and taken care of, I feel so freed up to focus on and enjoy the season.
Make a retroactive list. In addition to keeping a list of gift ideas, I also make a list of what I ended up giving to whom each year, and then email it to myself at the end of the season with the subject "Christmas 2018 (or insert whatever year)." The following year, when I start building my list, I know exactly who I need to shop for, as well as have a rough template for what type of gift I got them the prior year.
Check your expectations. If you have little kids, or even if you don't, realize that your expectations might be unrealistic. Don't worry about what you think this season SHOULD look like, and try to accept that if you're in the trenches of parenthood, there will be a new normal, and that can be great, too. Don't worry about watching every Christmas movie, baking every cookie, attending every party. Practice JOMO (joy of missing out--there are some great articles on this), not FOMO (fear of missing out).
Put down the phone. Something that helps with the above is limiting or eliminating social media. In past years when I've felt extra overwhelmed, something that helped was taking a social media hiatus. By turning off the extra chatter, I can be less attuned to what others are doing this season, avoid the comparison trap, and be more present and joyful with my family.
Just say no. You know that phrase that a 'yes' to one thing is a 'no' to another, right? I find that to be especially true during the Christmas season. We have a handful of really special traditions that we look forward to each year, and in order to do them, and not feel burnt out while we're doing them, sometimes that means declining other things. I no longer feel guilty about declining something even if it's the same weekend as another thing because I know that in this phase of life, sometimes we can't handle back-to-back busy days without toddler (or parent) meltdowns.
Remember the reason for the season. Yes, this is an overdone phrase/bumper sticker/reminder, but it holds true. I've been doing a lot of reflecting on babies lately because I have one, and if George falls asleep in my arms before I put him in his crib at night, I rock him a little longer and think it unfathomable that I could ever give my perfect, sweet baby away. But God did exactly that--for us.
I shared this quote last year but I still think about it and find it helpful, so here it is again:
“I think it's appropriate this time of year to just think about that baby in the manger. Don't be too overwhelmed or occupied with what is to come; just think about that little baby. Take a quiet, peaceful moment to ponder the beginning of His life--the culmination of heavenly prophecy but the earthly beginning for Him. Take time to relax, to be at peace, and see this child in your mind. Do not be too concerned or overwhelmed with what is coming in His life or in yours. Instead, take a peaceful moment to contemplate perhaps the most serene moment in the history of the world--when all of heaven rejoiced with the message 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men."
- D. Todd Christofferson