Q: How do you handle the Christmas chaos? Family, friends, and all around busyness without going a little bit crazy?
A: the honest answer is that I do go a little bit crazy. As we roll the clock to each New Year I continually vow to do the Holidays better next year. To be more organized. To get things done earlier. To be strategic and purposeful about what we are doing so that I can actually enjoy the splendor of the Season and all that it offers and means. And every year I fail epically. I find myself stressed out, behind on everything and largely incapable of relaxing into the sentiments of the Season.
As some of you know our oldest daughter has a birthday on Christmas Eve and if I had a dollar for every person who has shared their personal horror story of who they know that has a Christmas birthday and how awful it is, we would have her college tuition to an Ivy League school comfortably funded by now. But as I took all this in during her young years, it inspired me to go above and beyond each year to make sure that her birthday was separate and special and that she never felt slighted, over-looked or lumped in with the Christmas theme. So just add that endeavor to the list of things to accomplish during December. And now we are expecting our fourth child with a due date of December 16th. Phenomenal family planning on our part, but it has pushed me to that wonderful point of allowing the busyness to fall away and to focus on perspective.
What is really, truly important? That it all gets done with lavish flair and I come out looking like some sort of mini Martha Stuart or that I spend time loving and enjoying my family? I have even found that when I plan Holiday experiences or outings with the best of intentions for creating a keepsake moment or memory, there are times when the lack of spontaneity makes it feel insincere and unenjoyed. As though I am just checking something off my Holiday to-do list rather than really, truly settling into the Joy of the experience that is unfolding around me, yet without me. I can remember sharing with a friend the experience of a few months after our first child was born getting to that point of being so utterly and completely exhausted that I didn’t give a shit anymore. What a stunningly freeing sensation that was! So what if the laundry isn’t done? So what if the house is messy or dinner is delivered in a pizza box? In the scheme of what truly matters in life where exactly does dusting and decorating fall? And the answer is; let it fall. Let those things that don’t truly matter fall away to a place where they get none of your time or attention and you will enjoy an amazingly freeing sensation.
Make a list of the most important things to YOU during the Holidays and focus there. For some it might be making homemade cookies and gifts. Others would just as soon go through the entire month without ever turning on the oven and that would seem like a gift all by itself. The point is to decide what is truly important and ENJOYABLE to you and let the rest of it head to the caboose of the Santa Train. If you enjoy the experience of giving a beautifully wrapped gift to people, go ahead and spend twenty minutes wrapping each gift. But if you’d prefer to never see a roll of wrapping paper or a piece of tape then as my step-son says, “there are entire industries devoted to solving that problem.” The solution could be as close as the twelve year old neighbor girl that would LOVE to earn some Christmas money by wrapping your gifts for $0.25 apiece. For me, certain things like decorating the house and the tree are a chore to get through, but I love the effects and it is deeply important to me to “give” that warmth and experience to my family. So from that perspective it matters mightily and I will do it no matter how many times the bottom third of the lights go out on the tree that we got soaking wet going out and cutting ourselves. I might secretly pine for 1-800-faketrees, but I won’t go there because of what it means to my kids, and so it matters to me. So save some money to hire a housekeeper for a few hours and spend a Sunday covering the kitchen in frosting and flour knowing that you have help coming to clean up the mess. There are things we can do that take the stress out of Holiday tasks but above all I would encourage you to give yourself a moment to find the perspective in it all. Ask yourself what truly matters and is important to you during this special time of year and focus your energies, heart and intention there. And don’t then allow those experiences and shared moments to be tainted by some never ending “to-do list” that keeps running through your mind. It doesn’t deserve the space.
What DOES deserve your heart and mind are those you love. And you giving yourself the freedom and permission to enjoy the magic of the moments as they come without the burden of performing to unrealistic expectations are the very best gift you can give to those you cherish. So give it a shot this Christmas. There is nothing to lose and a world of magic and wonder to be gained by you allowing yourself to relax and enjoy this most special time of year.