It's here! Holiday time. Store fronts have been transformed, store hours have been extended, and the mall parking lots are full of cars circling for a spot. I felt the change last week when I was running an errand. As I was leaving I noticed that the energy of the drivers in the parking lot seemed to have transformed overnight into a agitated, angry, impatient group. The stress of the holiday season seems to be upon us.
I know that for a lot of people this time of year can bring up some challenging moments. There is financial stress, family stress, and of course the busy work of trying to make an amazing holiday for our families. Sometimes as parents, we are so busy that we rarely get to enjoy the holidays.
I sat in my car in this parking lot of agitation and thought about the ways in which I could enjoy the holidays despite the pressures this time of year can place on us as parents. I love this time of year. I love the lights, decorations, family time. I really love the traditions. I feel the stress too, but as I sat in the car I decided that I would not let this taint a time of year that I have such fond memories of and that my children wait for with innocent wonder.
The first thing I decided was that I will be realistic with what I can accomplish. We will not have a Pinterest holiday. My outdoor decorations will not be as elaborate as the Griswold's. My tree will be decorated by young children and sometimes that means it won't look like the trees in the catalog.
I will focus on the things that are most important. I tend to keep celebrations fairly low key and manageable as it is and this will be no different. One example of this is that we do not do the elf on the shelf. There are many reasons why I have chosen not to do this with my children, one of them being the investment of time. Parents get amazingly creative with this. I am not saying that you should abandon this tradition if you partake in it, but I decided it wasn't for me. Every parent can find some ways to simplify the season that works for them.
Another way to reduce feeling overwhelmed is to have your children help. I love to decorate for the holidays but it can be time consuming, so I enlisted my children's help. We now all work together to decorate and again in January to clean up. Whether it is decorating, meal prep, or cleaning the house before family comes, your children can assist you (in age appropriate ways) that may lighten your load.
Most importantly I realized that I have to take the lead in staying focused about what this time of year means to me. It isn't about the perfect gift, house, or decorations, but about spending time with those I love. Creating traditions that we as a family enjoy. As I sat in that parking lot I thought about my own holiday memories from childhood. I don't remember my gifts but I do remember the time I spent with my family. I remember eating fondue on Christmas Eve and driving around to look at lights. I remember sitting in front of the Advent wreath every Sunday for 4 weeks listening to holiday music with my family. Those are the moments that stand out.
So, for this holiday season and all others I will stay present. While it will become a busier time of year, but the stress does not need to take over. I will focus on what is most important and not aim for perfection. What your children will remember is the time that was spent with them. They way they felt during the holiday season. Creating traditions and spending time as a family will leave a long lasting impression.
Wishing you all a very happy holiday season!