The following post is by Megan Tietz and originally appeared in December 2009. With just a little less than two weeks until Christmas, I thought her words would serve as a good, gentle reminder to keep the holidays simple for our kids and for ourselves. Enjoy! – Kara
With just ten days left until Christmas Day, the pace is beginning to quicken in my home.
Does it feel that way for you?
It seems that no matter how devoted I am to the pursuit of an uncomplicated holiday, the days leading up to Christmas and New Years feel more and more frenzied. I find myself doing frequent “tension checks” throughout the day – noticing the curt responses to my children, the nagging weight of gifts still not purchased, and the inner turmoil over the dwindling Christmas budget.
When I take a moment to step back and assess what helps me resist the rush in the countdown to Christmas, I’ve noticed three practices that inspire me to an enjoyment of the season rather than an attitude of “I must endure.”
1) Stay out of the stores.
We’ve thoughtfully planned out our children’s Christmas presents, using the “Something she wants, something she needs, something to wear, something to read” idea as we made our purchases. Yet a simple dash into the discount store or a brisk walk through the mall leaves me feeling bombarded with all that my children will not be receiving this year.
My days are so much more simple and guilt-free when I can stay out of the stores (and curtail my internet browsing as well!).
2) Keep a visual.
Place visual reminders in your path that guide your expenditures of time, money, and energy. Perhaps you might bring your checked-off Christmas gift list with you on outings to assure yourself that you really don’t need to buy anymore. Leave a spreadsheet with your Christmas budget open on your desktop. Refer to your family calendar often so you can know how to respond to last-minute invitations and activities. Tape the list with your three Most Important Things to your bathroom mirror so that you start each day with the essential in mind.
This season abounds with opportunity to over-commit and overspend, and a visual guide does wonders to keep me in check.
3) Pursue (and delight in!) the simple pleasures.
Yesterday at Zen Habits, Leo shared some thoughts on How to Be Mindful During the Holidays. His encouragement to focus on simple pleasures reminded me of precisely what has filled my heart with happiness this season: the way our two year old squeals with delight each evening when our neighbors turn on their outdoor Christmas lights, the way our preschooler beams as she performs the songs she’s learned for her school’s Christmas program, the Christmas cards that arrive daily bringing the faces and news of those we love into our home.
The stuff of the Christmas season brings me stress. The spirit of this season brings me joy, hope, and hope. I want to honor the spirit and not the stuff with my thoughts, words, and deeds.
How does your family turn mindful ideals into practical application throughout the holidays?