I want to make my Christmas traditions more relaxed. Yet, every year December rolls around and I want to pull my hair out. The entire month, when I’m still reeling from Thanksgiving, I seriously want to pull my hair out. Why? The pressure I put on myself to pull off Christmas traditions used to make me crazy! The decorations, the housecleaning, the organizing, the family, the gatherings, the school play, teacher gifts, baking cookies, potlucks at schools, parties, donations, charity, makes you dizzy just reading it – doesn’t it? This is exactly how not to enjoy Christmas!
But, I’m sharing my solution. It’s borrowed – but never mind that for now. Let’s just call it a collection of mind tricks.
Do you want to actually enjoy Christmas? Here are my five easy peasy mind tricks that I use to make Christmas traditions more relaxed so that I can enjoy the holiday along with everyone else!
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More Relaxed Christmas Decorations
I’m sure decorating, to some extent, is part of everyone’s traditions. I love our decorations and the joy that comes from seeing the decorations of others.
But here’s the thing: once decorating becomes a chore – STOP! You don’t have to be Clark Grizwold. I only enjoy our decorations when I remember the fun that we had putting them up. But once it’s not fun, then we agree that we have done enough. There’s no goal here – there’s no “quota.” There’s only the fun of the doing! Adjust your expectations from reaching a goal…to simply enjoying what you are doing.
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More Relaxed Christmas Meal
Christmas Eve dinner is our main Christmas meal. Here’s mental trick #2: I allow myself the option of ordering something made by one of the wonderful restaurants close by instead of doing the cooking myself. If I feel like I would enjoy cooking the Christmas Eve meal, then I cook. If I don’t – I order.
Allowing myself that option frees me to enjoy Christmas more. So giving yourself options and permission to have a prepared (or partially prepared) meal gives you an “out” without feeling like you blew it. It was in your “plan” all along. Give yourself choices – not requirements – and you will be a much happier mommy! Jedi. Mind. Trick.
More Relaxed Christmas Breakfast
So it wasn’t until my first son was two that I realized…If I’m cooking Christmas dinner, I don’t get to be with the family and participate. DUH! (I’m slow that way sometimes…) My older son is methodical about opening his gifts. He likes to savor each one and play with it for a while before moving on to the next. My younger son is speedy – so I can’t miss a minute! Present opening can be fast and slow all at the same time. I want to be there to watch the boys, share their experience, and take part. Cooking a big holiday meal just didn’t get it. So, I switched the big holiday meal to Christmas Eve. But how to feed everyone on Christmas?
Cooking a big holiday meal just didn’t get it. So, I switched the big holiday meal to Christmas Eve. But how to feed everyone on Christmas? Simple solution.
I pick up biscuits the day before. I’ve asked the bakery to take them out of the oven for me just a little early so that I can finish baking them off Christmas morning. It’s perfect. There’s leftover tenderloin – voila! A morning biscuit. The adults add some horseradish and there’s butter and jam for the kids.
I also purchase several platters that people can help themselves to throughout the day. See what I did there? I unloaded the fridge onto my kitchen counter and called it food for Christmas day all day long! The boys really look forward to the biscuits – we limit gluten – so they are a real treat for all of us.
This one’s purely a practical tip – I’m not sure any Jedi mind tricks are involved.
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More Relaxed Christmas Tradition of Opening Gifts
I want to relax Christmas morning while my boys are opening gifts. Is relaxing on Christmas something you’ve ever really done? My parents are elderly and don’t usually get up until somewhat later. So we have the early morning with the boys and the afternoon with grandparents. Having smaller groups so that everyone can have our full attention has been a real blessing.
If you can divide up some of your time, it can make things less hectic. That works for us, but won’t work for everyone. For me, making the choice to take the time to give family members my undivided attention is a joy and blessing for all of us.
So my oldest (not my youngest, for sure) shares his grandfather’s joy and methodical nature for opening gifts. That’s my way of saying, once my parents come down in the afternoon – we start all over again opening their gifts! The boys have usually moved on to play with their toys, secure knowing that they had our undivided attention all morning. (And, don’t forget, biscuits)
More Relaxed Christmas Tradition of Sparking Joy
So here’s my take away for you. And I admit, it’s completely stolen! How very un Christmas-like of me. I’ve stolen a play straight out of Marie Kondo’s outrageously popular organization book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
Remove the clutter of your own overwhelming expectations. If the expectation doesn’t give you joy, loose it and come up with a new game plan. The Jedi mind trick here is simply choosing to enjoy Christmas and giving yourself permission to make choices that bring you and your family joy.
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We all want to enjoy Christmas more and spend more family time together. I used to go out of my mind trying to make all the Christmas traditions perfect! Not any more. And these mind tricks are how I went from crazy, anxiety-ridden, unhappy Christmas mommy to a much more relaxed and lovable version of my type-A self…