It happens every Christmas. The 25th rolls up and there you are on Christmas Day, disappointed. Quietly watching everyone hurriedly unwrap a gift and then moving on quickly to the next one, barely taking a breath. Guilt washes over you as you silently think,
“Oh, I forgot to get that done”.
“Oops, Christmas is now over and we never got around to taking care of that person”.
It’s an empty feeling of reflection, so how can this year be different?
1) Burn Down the Calendar! A big headache for families is making every single thing you are invited to. Granted big family events can be awkward to miss, but attitude is everything. What if you decided to narrow down which events actually give you joy? Is it sending out cards while listening to Christmas music? Is it making cookies (maybe you can cut down this year)? Is it doing a drive-by of the neighborhood with good holiday lights? Prioritize the good stuff. Tradition is good but killing yourself to make every party doesn’t make for a “nice Karen”. Sit down with your spouse and decide together (if they are on board). It can cut out the drama later if you mutually decide to only go for an hour to Aunt Harriet’s Annual White Elephant of Guilt Party instead of the typical three.
2) Buy Wisely! Do the kids really want 50 things that you will have to throw away by March when they aren’t looking? Experiences create memories and actually spending time with your family (young, teens or adults) will bring you and them some joy! When we go back through the photo albums, it’s not the cheap stuff from China that impressed them, it was the time you went as a family on that hike and the lunch in that little town that they remember.
3) Drown the Phone! That’s right, pitch it into a lake. Kidding, you can’t do that. But you can prioritize the time you do have by setting boundaries on screens. That means everyone puts their devices in the kitchen in a drawer during dinner. It means as a family everyone watches the same Christmas Classic, not three Netflix movies streaming simultaneously. It won’t hurt them or you to turn off notifications on your phone and actually look into your spouse or children’s eyes for a change. Come on, it’s Christmas!
4) Write a Gratitude List! Every year have the family write down things they are thankful for and put it in the ornament box. Next year when you hang the ornaments, you have something to read! You’d be surprised when you start to see the progress your family has made. Make it a new Christmas Tradition! “The reading of the gratitude lists!”