I think we all want to enjoy the holiday season, right? We love the happy, connected experiences portrayed in our favorite holiday movies, we crave the magic of giving and being surrounded by loved ones inside cozy homes, and we get excited as we think about the fresh start that is just ahead as the new year begins.
But the reality often includes feelings of stress, frustration, exhaustion, and phrases like, “Once I get through the holidays…”
This year, I don’t want anyone at LearnDoBecome to just “get through” the holidays. I want each one of us to feel a tangible sense of peace, relief, and joy–to the point that we’re surprising ourselves with how happy we feel.
And yes, there will be sickness, challenges, and difficult circumstances beyond our control, but there is so much we CAN control, and my goal today is to outline a path that can help all of us have the best holiday experience possible.
The two things I’ve discovered that totally calm my mind are feelings of “safety” and “healthy expectations.”
Your situation will likely be different than mine since we’re all unique, but I’ll explain the reasoning behind these a little more…
“Safety” is important to me, personally, because I’m often afraid that I’m going to forget something or someone during this time of year.
I want people to know how much they matter to me, and what usually drives my stress are thoughts that the people I love won’t know how much I love them.
In order to feel “safe,” these are the kinds of things I’ll prioritize:
- Making a list of all the people I want to reach out to during the holidays–along with simple ways to express my love (that doesn’t involve buying a bunch of random, unnecessary items just so I have something to wrap)
- Carving out sufficient time to spend with my loved ones so I’m not squeezing in extra errands/trips when I’m physically depleted.
- Keeping enough open space in my schedule so if the opportunity comes up to serve/be available for a last-minute drop-in, I’m not dropping balls in other areas.
“Healthy expectations” generally involves conversations with myself and my close family/friends, where we discuss what a successful holiday looks like, and we come up with creative ways to celebrate and connect that works for everyone involved.
I’m not the kind of person who likes shopping/gift-giving, and because our children are getting older, I can’t just waltz through the toy aisle at Target and grab a few new colorful activities. And perhaps it’s just the mom in me, but there’s this deep worry that Christmas morning will come, and everyone will wake up and run to the tree to find presents, but there won’t be any…and it will be my fault. Picturing that scene literally makes my stomach hurt.
So this is what we’re doing instead:
- Deciding on family experiences to give as gifts (like a trip or a coupon for time we can spend together in the future)
- Brainstorming other ways to celebrate that don’t involve random purchases and lots of wrapping paper
- Sharing our perspective on gifts, what we’re planning to do, and being really clear with the people we love that we DO love them–and our holiday celebrations may look different than what’s typically depicted in the media.
Okay, I’m adding a little “Editor’s Note” here….
I put this post together prior to my recording time, and this week, it worked out for Eric to join me on the podcast! So while we did cover what was included above, Eric also added his own perspective with things like the following:
- Trying to make sure “everyone is taken care of” during the holidays is a fairly limited perspective. We can give gifts/think of people throughout the year, and we don’t ONLY have to shop and deliver gifts during this specific time frame.
- This is a great time to think, “What are the ‘big’ things we really want to happen during this season?” This helps us to recognize that not everything is essential. Eric shared how our daughter is coming home from her 18-month church mission this December, and so we want to take a trip with her and the family. In order to enjoy that time, we’re going to take care of the end-of-year tax and business items prior to that trip. Being able to relax and be present is a priority to us, but we need to leave adequate time and margin so we can do those things.
- We need to recognize that in the seasonal movies we watch, they never share what’s actually going on behind the scenes. Someone has to do laundry, prepare food, run errands, take care of the mail, etc. It doesn’t just magically happen. And though Eric is willing to wear a flannel shirt this season (to make all my dreams come true), the main focus is cherishing the experiences and setting a pace that works.
- Eric also encourages us to be fiscally responsible during this season. Going into debt not only leaves you feeling worried during the holidays–but then you are entering the new year with a burden that may take months or years to pay off. It’s totally possible to set a simple budget and put our focus into the time/shared memories/our personal values.
We hope that these ideas help take some of the pressure off–and enable you to take a deep breath as you prepare for a season that will fuel you, your family, and your loved ones as we prepare for an amazing year ahead!
Want to Join Us in ARISE?
This month, we’re doing holiday planning together, and this isn’t about doing everything perfectly or checking all the boxes. It’s about rethinking our plans with the goal of enjoying and replenishing through the season–and coming up with creative ways to do so.
Click here to learn more/sign up for the membership! We would love to work with you and learn from one another.
I stopped giving (and receiving) physical gifts when I was a late teen – my whole family did. It works for me because Giving Gifts is not one of my love languages 🙂 I have one or two friends now in adulthood for whom it is their love language, and I’m happy to receive gifts from them (and they have a “gift” for finding the perfect things!) but they know not to expect anything physical from me. I’m far more likely to give my genuineness and my time 🙂
That is what GIFT CARDS are for!!!!! EVERYBODY needs to EAT & Shop!!!! Walmart. Target. Applebee’s. Red Lobster. Olive Garden. Taco Bell. McDonald’s. Macy’s. Everybody appreciates this…Bath & Body Works…
Plan ahead — stash $5 each month
April Perry says
Love this!! Thank you!
Ah but see, that’s why people are different, and that’s okay 😉 Gift cards would not be for me 😊
I’m quite happy with my extremely rare gift-giving (and receiving), and I don’t think my friends and family are bothered by it either 😊
Last year I wasn’t able to go to my husband’s side of the big family gathering. So I asked for Kidd head count. They are all teenagers. I bought geodes for them all . Less the 3 each. Asked Uncle Mike if he had a hammer 🔨 lol he was intrigued so I told him and he said Cool the kids will love that. I try to bring something that will bring the kids together. Like scavenger hunts decorating cookies or dollar Chinese Xmas or candy right left center. I the one who thinks about the kiddos because they do enough thinking about the adults.
April Perry says
Brilliant ideas!! So clever. Thank you!
Vici Upton says
I have learned so much through the STEP program. Wednesday nights have become my “dinner and a podcast” nights, since my husband has become a member of a model train society, which meets then. I love your podcasts. Thanks for reminding me that even tiny things like a singing voice memo is a huge thing. We focus now on giving fellowship and edible gifts more than “stuff”. I appreciated what Eric said about feeling like the holiday is a false construct. We agree. During the pandemic when no one could gather safely, we chose to go away and be just the two of us (okay, playing golf, which was practically the only sport that was safe to play!) Bottom line, we still do that, right at the high holiday. we just plan OUR family gathering when we are all ready. Maybe before, maybe after, its what we all agree to and REALLY enjoy! Wow. I could go on, but I’ll just thank you both now for such a great, inspirational podcast!
April Perry says
Vici, it sound like you have figured things out so well! Thank you for your kind words and example!