I keep feeling the need to tell myself, and then to tell you, that it’s okay if you want to rest easy this season. It’s okay if you haven’t even started your Christmas shopping and the only thing you’ve done that’s remotely holiday-ish is to stuff your face with fake-white chocolate-covered pretzels with sprinkles.
(that sort of describes my week, which has been full of unpredicted twists and turns)
This time of year is my favorite time of year–I love the smells and the sights, I love wearing layers to bed and walking around in my slippers. I love kissing my kids’ soft cold cheeks and sharing my jackets with my growing daughter (and also my Uggs, this kid). I love serving hot chocolate and not telling Landis he has a chocolate mustache because I just want to stare at it a little while longer and smile inside.
I love thinking about the food I want to make and not thinking about how many pounds heavier I will be at the end of the season. I love lighting candles and jotting down things I’m thankful for, snuggling with my children on the couch and reading until my tongue hurts. I love that my cat is now sleeping inside and keeping my feet warm at night.
The season is bulging with joys and delights, but along with all this, I’m nervous. I’m afraid I will all too soon cave into the stress of the holidays, because I’ve been here before and am all too familiar with what eventually happens. I start to fret about the menu and the grocery list, and then that I haven’t bought a single gift for my kids yet. Then I realize I haven’t even thought about decorations this year and I get jealous of all the pinteresty home tours that will happen soon that will so-not-be-my-home, and I end up putting way too much pressure on myself.
Please tell me you know what I’m talking about.
But lately I’ve been reminding myself, and pressing it into my soul, not to listen to the expectations of the world–the frenzy, the pressures, the noise, the rat race. Not to cave under perceived pressures of what the holidays are supposed to look like. This isn’t me! And this isn’t what it’s all about. And friends, these things are for you too.
Some friendly reminders for the season, things I’m telling myself…
1// Listen to your family, and pursue traditions, foods, activities, rest, memories that will be meaningful to them, and don’t worry about what other families are doing.
2// Take frequent breaks from your to-do list to spend time with your children…when your little one says, “Can you read me a book?” or, “Can you play something with me?” Just do it! It only takes five minutes but it means the world, and these are the things you will remember forever.
3// Don’t try to create a pinterest worthy home. Make your holiday home pretty and cute and warm and comfortable, a place where your little ones and your husband love to come home to, but a place that can be lived in. Keep it simple and meaningful to you, and don’t worry about it keeping up with the trends.
4// Pursue spiritual opportunities with your family–times of giving thanks, doing an advent calendar together, reading the Bible. Keep these things central. You have to make this a huge effort or it will get washed aside with the business of the season.
5// When it comes to gifts, do what your own family is comfortable with. If this is the time you love showering your family with precious items, then do it without guilt (as long as your husband is on the same page!); if this is the time you like to keep it really simple and not focus on gifts, then own that too! But don’t feel pressure from either side of the spectrum–your family is unique and do what’s best for your own family and your own budget.
6// If you like to wait until December to do your shopping, don’t feel bad about it! (this is where I am) Don’t feel trapped in keeping up with other people’s preparedness. Remember that it will all get done in due time, and resist the urge to feel stressed about it.
7// Hug your husband a lot! Don’t act like it’s such an interruption to what you are doing…(I may also struggle with this sometimes…)
All this to say, this season I plan to curl up with my kids and listen to their tall tales, read them stories, tickle their backs, watch movies together, and realize that my to-do list will get done in due time, but it’s more important to enjoy the season than to plan ahead for it and be ultra prepared. I’m determined to see the faces of my family this season and not to worry about keeping up with standards of the culture.
Really, people, I’m giving you permission to be unprepared this holiday (as though I can really give permission), and to be okay with it. To not freak out when your best friend tells you she finished her shopping in July and she’s already working on next year. To not be upset with yourself that you didn’t get to make any homemade gifts this year and the closest you’ve gotten to your sewing machine is to dust it. To be restful about hitting the grocery store next week even with all the crowds, and skip over the regret of not being able to shop ahead and cook ahead and all that jazz.
I’m encouraging myself to not have ridiculously high expectations where I’ll just be disappointed when I don’t meet up to them. It’s okay for us mommas to enjoy this season too, even though it’s a ton of work for us. I don’t want these seasons and holidays to pass by me and leave me feeling like I chose everything else but being with my family.
It’s hard, cause who’s gonna make the pumpkin bread pudding for Thanksgiving breakfast? I am. Who’s got lots of sides and pies to make and a house to clean and a Friday dinner party to plan? I do. (and I’m assuming every one of you has similar situations)
But let’s just say right now that we are freeing ourselves from freaking out and stressing out, and that we WILL enjoy our family through all of this. We WILL sit and play a game with our little boys and we WILL read to our kids when we really should be cooking or cleaning or tablescaping.
Let’s just settle down and rest easy. You have my permission. And I’m sure I have yours.
*be looking for a post real soon with some ideas and links for appetizers for a dinner party, and some simple tablescapes that won’t stress you out. and then I’m taking a break from this space to snuggle my family….*