My kids on sugar.
Only two weeks till Christmas! Better get right down to it…
10 Quick Ways to Spoil Your Holidays
- Make it about the stuff. Countercultural, yes and maybe even counterintuitive depending upon your habits the rest of the year, deemphasizing things over the holidays — no matter how sparkly, discounted or even locally made — can be a powerful way to enhance your holiday season. By giving less in the way of presents, and more in the way of presence you are not only filling a void that not a single thing can touch, but you are making a statement — against the notion of good will as an excuse to consume needlessly, against the clutter and chaos that has come to characterize Christmas and against the illusion that joy has anything at all to do with things in the first place. Make it a slow wean if you must, but the more you shape your holidays around tradition, togetherness and truth, the less likely you are to be lined up for after-Christmas sales, still unsatisfied.
- Expect your kids to “get it.” Your baby is not spoiled or antisocial because she screams when you pass her off to perfect strangers (no matter how kid-loving your uncle Lou). Your five-year-old is not unreasonable for refusing to get back in the carseat during your day-long search for the perfect party pumps and your eight-year-old is not rude for hanging on to you half asleep while you schmooze (and booze) for hours beyond his bedtime. No matter how child-centric your holidays, kids are easily maxed this time of year and require just as much sleep and downtime as ever (if not more). Factoring in a preventive pep talk before holiday dinners, scheduling plenty of slow days to counteract the crazy ones and making sure they’ve been fed real food before surrounding them with 300 variations on high fructose fabulousness will help prevent your own toddler-esque meltdown.
- Expect everyone else to “get it.” Your parenting style is almost certainly not the same as your advice-touting aunt Pearl’s and that’s okay. Likewise, your well-meaning brother-in-law may truly not have known that your kid is allergic to all tubers aside from those grown in the shade of birch leaves. Do yourself and everyone else a favor and kindly hold your family’s way as worthy without assuming everyone else is on board. Think through possible situations ahead of time, plan a comfortable course of action and remember, many of them already raised their kids. Yours are not their primary concern.
- Over-schedule yourself. More fun is more fun, right? Not always. Committing to not two but five holiday gift exchanges does not necessarily make you more festive or generous, but it will probably ensure that you’re more stressed than decompressed come January. Ditto for your kids, and stressed kids have built-in punishment mechanisms.
- Pretend you have money. I realize there’s always the temptation to buy into all the merriment (quite literally) and forgo budgets and common sense in the name of the savior (uh?) but do consider the other eleven months of the year and mind your money. Considering that (according to Consumer Reports) people actually “hate” one in five gifts they’re given anyway, you might resist that bird bingo and give your poor dad a foot rub.
- Expect your family to be something it isn’t. If they never have been respectful of your choices, expecting affirmation this year is a recipe for resentment. If uncle Larry always gets shit-faced on Christmas Eve, don’t think that he won’t this season just because you’re bringing home your (unsuspecting) could-be bride. On the same note, if you know there will be 56 kids running through grandma’s house, you’re better off getting a hotel room than expecting peace and quiet while your toddler naps. As for Aunt Mae’s perfume? You’re on your own with that one.
- Feed family drama. You don’t have to agree with everything they say, think or do, but feeding their fanatical fires or trying to convert them to your side of party lines is generally not the most palatable recipe for holiday cheer (nor silent nights for that matter).
- Pretend you’re back in college. Overindulgence is par for the course most holidays, but rarely worth the moment of pleasure for the guilt, pounds, hangover or uncertainty of events following its feeding. Slow down and savor your favorite foods. Indulge, but in small portions, followed by a wintery walk. Most of all, take notice — of the scents and the sounds and the simmer of the season. Take time to think about where your food comes from and offer your gratitude. Get drunk on the human connection, the stillness of time and the wholeness of the moment and you might actually be okay with a little less eggnog.
- Try to be Martha. Martha Stewart is a millionaire with a chauffeur, a staff of leaping lord-knows how many and someone to clean up behind her as she pretends to have it all together. Don’t play that game. Keep it simple, keep it fun and keep it real.
- Compare Yule Logs. This time of the year, The Joneses are on steroids. Forget their bling and blow-up baby Jesus. There is not one more iota of happiness (or salvation) born of having fancy things than having your head on straight (and the size of your yule log left to the imagination).
Oh,my goodness. Thank you. I know these things, but needed to be reminded of several of them. At this point I may not even finish my handmade gifts for my children. They will be more likely to be able to live with that if I am. Letting go now, letting go now, letting go now~
That may need to be my holiday mantra…
Lots of good advice and so well written! I only wish I could of read these during the years my children were young. Still, a lot there that I can take for the present.
Thank you, Valri! If I had a nickel for every time I heard a mom from my mother’s generation reflect over how little empathy and information was available such a short time ago… Well, it just leaves me encouraged that all this crazy change is not without its benefits. Thanks again.
Truth is rarely spelled out so clearly. Thank you. Sharing!
Thanks a million, Laura! I stumbled upon your blog some time ago, then lost track of you and am now happy to be “reunited.” I truly appreciate you sharing and look forward to returning the favor, as – if my memory serves – you speak quite a lovely truth yourself.
I follow Martha on Pinterest, which seemed like an innocuous move when I clicked her follow button a while back. Now it is pretty insidious and overwhelming and, inspired by your note, I just un-followed her. I’ll find her again later, maybe . . .
This made me laugh. I’m really not anti-Martha or anything, just the “perfection” her version of homemaking represents. She would be a hard one to follow on Pinterest. So much canning to do between photo shoots! 😉
Thanks for sharing it’s very hard to know what we truly want at this time of the year oppose to what we think is expected. I know my children cope better with less demands on their time and less sensory exposure to the overwhelming things that happens everywhere at this time of the year so we have learnt to pace it out choosing things that mean a lot to us rather then trying to do everything. I’ve signed up to follow you too 🙂
Thank YOU, Monique! I agree – this season is so packed it’s hard to sort. I love the idea of doing less, but more meaningful things. Sounds like you’ve managed to find a lovely balance. I’m glad you’re here!
Amen, sister. Seriously…the world needs to hear this and everyone needs to take one huge, collective breath. Presence over presents…YES!! And you’re hilarious, btw.
This is such a great reminder! I have been slowly downsizing Christmas over the years. It never failed to amaze me after all presents were opened how much crap was under the tree! This year we are doing things a little different. We had to move overseas to China from Canada last January so here I find myself in the country that creates all the crap we buy and it is a hugely eye opening experience! Though my kids, 8 and 5 are having a hard time without our Christmas tree, snow and a gingerbread house, we will be making different holiday memories this year with a trip to Malaysia to enjoy the rainforest, ocean and get away from this concrete jungle(all paid for with cash, no credit cards for the first time ever!) and I hope we will be able to enjoy each others company without all the gimmicks that this time of year seems to bring. Christmas needs to be more about being together than what we bought each other.
This idea was really driven home for us when we stepped out of the country as well. Wow. Malaysia!? Your kids will never forget it, no matter how much the miss the Christmas tree. Enjoy, lovely. You’re experiencing some of the sweetest gifts there are.
Well, having lived in Japan for over 20 years now I have done everything I could possibly have done in order to pass along some concept of the ‘season’. Not being Christian myself means that aspect is out. And having read your suggestions, it just reinforces what I have recently decided…. nobody else wants it? I’m done with. Over.
David – I do believe this time of year to be rich with opportunity for introspection, togetherness, amped up kindness and giving in non-material ways. Here’s how we are making our holidays this year. https://revolutionfromhome.com/2012/12/mondays-at-my-house-making-light-of-christmas/
Just didn’t want you to think I meant for the whole bit to be disregarded. Unless of course, you were needing an excuse to be done with it, in which case, you’re welcome. 😉
OMG — the Joneses on STEROIDS. Love it.
I just featured you in a blog entry I’ve been working on this week: “Three Wise Peeps Bring Freakin’ Sense & Meaning to the HoliDAZE”.
Thank you for your FREAKIN’ sense, GOLD nuggets of wisdom & huMOR.
(Ok, sorry, that was so korny. I will stop now.)
Ooo, I’m so excited to read it, but for some reason it won’t take me to the article when I click on it from your main page. Will check back again. Maybe just another interweb hiccup. Thanks a million for sharing me, though! Gratefully anticipatory…
Could not have said it better myself…and glad you did. And, I will take you up on the foot rub. 🙂
You got it, Daddy-o. Merry Christmas! I Love you. (Consider this your IOU.)
Yes! I’m pretty sure I’ve already done maybe 4 or 5 out of ten this year… Oh well!
Ahhh! Good to know. I’m still working out the quirks of this new template. Apparently you have to click on the tiny and hard o see “read more” button.
Here’s the link: http://www.cosmic-acres.com/#!/three-wise-peeps/
I feel so fortunate to know you! That way I can picture your fingers at work on your keyboard. Happy holidays and thanks for the insight on things to come!
I just let out a big sigh and my shoulders relaxed in peace. Thanks for that verbal slap in the face, its just what I needed! With the craziness of the past few weeks, wrapping up school, work and all the social excesses of this time of year I was starting to get grumpy about what needs to be done and who was going to do it and I was starting to lose sight of the fact that I love Christmas and the holidays and I just need to breathe, relax, enjoy and the rest will follow….so Thankyou for this lovely Christmas gift you have given me