I have been thinking about change lately—lasting, successful change. At the same time, I watch the holidays and their annual stress and hectic energy approach. It is not rational for me to hang onto annual thoughts and behaviors and expect change—in the form of a more peaceful and joyous holiday season, to magically happen. That old saying “When you do what you’ve always done, you get what you’ve always got” is very true. What is the answer? Why does starting to simplify the holidays sometimes feel like pulling teeth?
It is time for change to happen in my family holidays. I am not saying I will toss out all the annual holiday traditions—the activities, food, and decorations. Traditions are nice and my family enjoys them—some of them, anyway. Still, I want to simplify our holidays. Part of what I am saying is that our lives have changed as our children have grown up and our holidays can change along with our life changes. Here are some thoughts.
Be okay with change. Am I really ready for change? To say, “well, one more year” is okay too. After thinking about my specific holiday frustrations, is it time to act? If it isn’t, yet, that’s okay too. Decide how committed you are to changing parts of your holidays.
Change my thoughts. What did I used to want for the holidays? What do I want now? Am I ready to simplify and have I thought through how to go about it? In addition to committing, I need to go through the thought process.
Change my behaviors. Can I cut back in a joyous way? How? Can I talk to everyone else involved and convince them to support the changes? Or, maybe I can share some ways to simplify the holidays and let those thoughts plant seeds in their minds for the year after this year?
The holiday changes can reflect the changes to my life in recent years and my desire to make the holidays match those life changes better. I am ready. I am thinking about it. Here is what I want to do:
Fewer holiday decorations—I have undecorated my home inside and outside over the years, and I like it. I can decorate more simply for the holidays too. If it is too fussy, I don’t display it indoors, and I don’t need to put up as many decorations outside either.
Less unhealthy baking—I have been keeping more healthful but less food around my home these days. I don’t want to relapse just because of the holidays. I will make a few traditional cookies, but I won’t create a situation where I have a lot of leftovers.
Less elaborate cooking—In my day-today cooking, I don’t do as many side dishes as I used to do. Fewer items on the holiday table, items that others bring over, and even buying some pre-made items are all fair choices to put less focus on the food aspect of the holiday meal and more focus on the togetherness of the meal.
Fewer presents—The older I get, the more I realize there is no thing I can buy that will provide true happiness. Besides, the kids are older now and it brings more pleasure just to enjoy being together rather than focusing on the gift exchanges. With several of my friends, we agree that the get-together is the gift to each other and skip the exchange of holiday and birthday presents.
No mindless tasks—For several years, I have been only cleaning the main floor when I have company because that is the only floor we will use. In the past, I have spent a lot on wrapping paper and time hunched over wrapping presents. I now favor reusable gift bags that require less time and are less wasteful than wrapping paper.
Smart time choices—I do better with time management including less television and more interactive fun instead. With holiday time management, I don’t want to overbook and schedule too many planned activities and events. Instead, I would like to protect time—to have less hustle and hassle, and more quiet time. De-cluttered homes look at least as clean as dust-free homes do in my observation anyway.
Keeping annual notes for the holidays continues to be helpful. Annually, I write down what I bake, what I make for food, and what presents I buy for which people in my life. I will take a quiet moment to review those notes and begin to make notes for this year’s plan. It is fun to look back over the years in the holiday folder to see how our holidays have gradually evolved as our lives have evolved.
As we work on de-cluttering our homes and our lives, we can also simplify our holidays. I find more holiday joy and less holiday stress when my holiday celebrations evolve to match my changing life circumstances. I wish you a peaceful and joyous holiday season.