Take the stress out of your Holiday Season this year and begin new traditions that fit who your family IS, not who they were.
My worst Christmas ever!
1992. It seems so long ago now, but that Christmas was my worst on record. Christmas Eve, my Grandma (my favourite person in the world) suddenly passed away of a massive heart attack. Christmas Day, my daughter (19 months old) was diagnoses with asthma (by a very kind Doctor who gave up his Christmas Day to help us). Boxing Day, my Great-Aunt passed away after complications following surgery. That’s it. Everything happens in 3’s and I was about tapped out.
I spent the week between Christmas & New Year’s bouncing between funeral homes with my family and emergency rooms with my very sick little girl. I did all of this with no support from my husband. So, two weeks later, my marriage ended.
It was time for a change
What I didn’t mention earlier, was that normally we traveled to nine different family gatherings in 3 very short, very chaotic days. As much fun as it was to see every one, doing this with a baby (and a sick one at that) was not my idea of celebrating the Holidays.
We usually spent Christmas eve with Grandma and it was ironic that this was the day we lost her.
Christmas would never be the same for me and I needed to find a way to bring joy back to the Holidays. It was so important to me that my daughter grow up knowing the Joy of the Holiday Season and not the stress and expectation of the traditions.
Creating New Traditions
I decided we were going to celebrate the Holidays on our terms. I looked at all the expectations regarding Christmas, travel, gifts, food, expenses and explored each individually. Were they necessary in order to feel joy? Or were they the expectations that others had of the Holidays and truly sucked the life out of most of us?
Travelling to nine different homes in 3 days was a bit much. I loved all (well most) of the people we spent time with, but when you factored in packing up a baby, limiting time at each event to get to the next, cranky baby (who misses her naps), mom (who really needs a nap) and Canadian weather – did the travel spark joy, or was it causing anxiety?
My family truly loves gifts. Every event required a multitude of gifts. Most of the time, I was shopping for people I only saw once a year. How are you supposed to buy a gift for someone you hardly know? Each gathering also had spending limits (that did not take into account the bank roll of a single mom). Buy the time all the extended family gifts were purchased, I was in the hole for $500 and that didn’t include my own tiny little family.
Some people really love shopping during the crazy seasonal rush, but I will never be one of them. I am so grateful for the advent of on-line shopping!!! But that was not an option in 1992!!
The gifts, expenses and trips to the mall were increasing my anxiety and not inspiring joy.
Firstly, I am not a huge fan of turkey, so eating nine different turkey dinners in 3 days, plus all the leftovers for days – no thank you. Could Christmas be celebrated without a turkey? I was willing to find out.
Our Holidays on Our Terms
After exploring each of the main anxiety-inducing areas of our traditional Christmas celebrations, I created some joy-inducing traditions.
I do not leave my home for 3 days. December 24, 25 & 26 you will find me at home, curled up by the fire staying warm. You may even find me with a glass of wine. My doors are open to anyone who wants to pop in for a visit, stay for a meal, or share a quick Christmas drink on their way to or from festivities.
It will stay this way until my girls have children. Then my husband & I will travel to them, because they don’t need to pack up babies & puppies to come see us. They don’t need the stress, they need the joy.
We have also simplified the gift giving experience. Everyone purchases a $25 gift card. They are hidden in little festive envelopes I made, with a chocolate bar. The kids choose games for us to play to “win” a gift card.
If you’re looking for a way to spark joy in your home over the Holidays – I recommend this idea of gift-exchange. No pressure, no debt, no expectation, just loads of laughter and joy. Our girls are still setting up their lives and do not need to be lavishing their parents with gifts. It’s about quality time – the greatest gift!!
We have also taken off the pressure of the formal turkey dinner. We do a pot-luck brunch. Bring whatever you want (left overs from another party, new recipe you wanted to try, it really doesn’t matter). We don’t do a formal sit-down dinner. We eat as we play, chat and laugh.
Take the stress out of your Holiday Season
This is how we have eliminated stress from our Christmas Holidays. We have simplified everything and made the focus on quality time, love, laughter and truly enjoying the spirit of the Season.
How do you spend your Holidays? What sparks the greatest amount of joy for you? Will you be changing a few things this year? Tell us in the comments below!!
We’d love to help you brain-storm some creative ideas to make this Holiday Season one for the memory books!! Contact us for a FREE 1-hour session!
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Change Your Life Today!!
Expect Miracles, Andrea