This is the first year that I have not be home in Phoenix for Christmas in 32 years (which seems impossible considering I’m only 29, right?). My husband and I decided before we ever got married that we would spend holidays together at home, side note: this is an important conversation to have with someone you plan on spending the rest of your life with, and are looking forward to waking up Christmas morning and doing nothing. From the time I was young Christmas was always about going somewhere: Grandma’s house, church, Mom/Dad’s house, the mall to sit on Santa’s lap. Christmas was never a time for relaxation but that is changing this year. Here is my full-proof guide on how I am going to do it:
STOP BUYING “STUFF”
This year I only bought gifts for people that I knew would have sentimental meaning. I did not wander the aisles of Target, or god forbid the mall, frantically picking up impersonal items made in China. The items I am gifting are made by me (hey Persimmon jam!!) or purchased from a small businesses. I’m over the Christmas machine, I would rather receive a heartfelt letter, some sort of hometown symbol (local food, coffee, stationary, etc), or an item that is unique to me (yeah, I’m talking bout unicorns) instead of a last minute impulse purchase decision driven by obligation/guilt.
GIVE ZERO FUCKS ABOUT TRADITION
On Christmas my husband and I are planning on wearing pajamas the entire day, eating whatever baked goods we can get our hands on, drinking champagne, watching movies (not necessarily Christmas themed), napping, and eating pizza. We might not go outside all day, don’t care. We mailed our holiday cards late, don’t care. We might not exchange some of our gifts until January, don’t care. These are the things that make us happy and happiness trumps awkward family traditions every time.
This was the most difficult strategy for me to implement, I really feel bad saying no to people. If you don’t want to go your coworkers ugly sweater party or your extended relatives white elephant gift exchange just say no, it is really that easy. This is your holiday time too and you should not spend it attending parties out of guilt, instead spend it surrounded by your cheering section. You know, the people who will get why elf on the shelf is creepy and agree that the ugly sweater trend needs to go away forever. Your cheering section won’t care that you are not full on into the holiday spirit or that you probably won’t exchange gifts with them until sometime in January, they are just happy to see you. I’m not saying abandon your family, I’m saying choose to spend non family time with the people who will keep you from going crazy.
You should always be nice, but especially this time of year. Everyone is trying to get through all of the lines quickly because they have all the things to do (if they would stop buying so much stuff they could alleviate that problem). Smile, hold doors, say thank you, and avoid resting stink face whenever possible. The barista, airline gate agent, cashier, and retail sales associate are all trying to make everyone happy during a time of year that is full of stress and annoying holiday muzak. Be patient, cut them some slack, heck even have a friendly conversation about their holiday plans. Remember they don’t control the weather, the crowds, the fact that an item is missing a price sticker, or your shitty attitude – so let’s all just take a deep breath and chill, ok?
Over the holidays take a small slice of time every day just for yourself. Find a space where you can take a few minutes to breathe, refocus, and remember how much you have in life to be grateful for. This could be a short walk in the morning or even just an extra three minutes in the shower, find that time for mindfulness. You (and your sanity) won’t regret it.
Did I miss something? Let me know in the comments!