Six years ago I wrote Why does everything have to be so special?! The post still holds up, but I’ve learned more insight from the last 6 years I want to share. I’ve really begun to understand how to find my lane, while I navigate life through depression and perfectionism, family struggles, and more. Let me share what I’ve figured out.
Here are 7 Ways I’ve been keeping the JOY in Christmas:
1- Beware of Perfectionism.
Holidays can be really triggering times for perfectionists. We can seem so ON during the holiday season, but it takes a toll and usually leaves us hiding under the covers during January. Just being aware of your perfectionism can help break the cycle.
Make conscientious choices to let things be imperfect. Trying your best is how you approach everything, and it is generally a good thing, but when you treat every tiny detail like it is the most important thing you’re going to wear out so quickly. Consistently remind yourself which details matter most and let the rest go.
Write out your Christmas priorities, what matters most to you and your family, so you can refer back and keep yourself grounded (this works for me).
2- Ignore what your friends are doing.
This should read as common sense, but it is tricky. It’s hard not to talk to your friends or see everyone’s posts on social media and not feel bad.
Like, should I be cutting down my own Christmas tree too? Should I have an elf or make my elf more exciting for the kids? Should I go ice skating, hand-make all our gifts, make a bazillion goodies for everyone in the universe? The answer is maybe yes or maybe not.
You definitely do not need social media as a guide, you already know your favorite Christmas traditions. Ignore the pressure to do what your friends are doing and do what makes you and your family happy!
3 – Rest more, not less.
Bears hibernate in the winter. We’re not bears, but winter should be a time of rest for us too, a slow down that our minds and bodies desperately need. Remember this as you schedule your time.
Have your Christmas fun, but take the time for naps and earlier bedtimes. Maybe that means saying no to some things. But saying no to some things helps you feel better during all the things you want to say yes. Otherwise, you’ll feel blah through it all. Feeling blah is a hard way to find your Christmas Joy!
4 – Stay in the moment.
This is hard with our to do lists growing by the minute during the holidays, but try your best to stay in the moment.
- When you’re doing an activity with your kids, focus on the activity and the chance to bond. Notice your kids’ reactions, be there WITH them.
- While you’re doing family activities, go give your spouse a kiss and remind them how you love enjoying these moments together.
- When you’re at a party, be at that party! I had the most fun at a party last night, because I left my cares behind me and enjoyed time with friends.
- When you’re at a music concert or church service, listen to the words of the songs and messages. Be there with them instead of running through your to do list in your mind.
I had the best time at my middle schoolers’ choir concert this week. I held my sleeping boy and really enjoyed every minute. It is amazing the amount of peace we can feel just by staying in the moment we’re living.
Be mindful of your thoughts, and keep them in the present!
5- Keep out the Clutter
I’m not someone who thinks all gifts should be experience-based, but I definitely don’t believe in buying junk for the sake of a gift to open. Thoughtful gift giving will go a long way.
Buying a bunch of crap you’ll want to declutter come January will not bring you joy. You may feel a mild high at the moment of purchase, but it isn’t the lasting joy that comes from thoughtful gift-giving.
This year we’re doing a mix of experience and regular gifts, nothing big but things that will excite the kids and that I believe they’ll really use. I’m a big believer in practical gifts! But yes, sometimes I even indulge in the impractical gift if I picture it really being used and enjoyed.
6- Keep in some fun for the sake of it.
One mistake a lot of posts like these can make is accidentally communicating that nothing extra is worth it, to keep things simple at all costs. That is not what I’m saying here!
I hope for you that you’ll make a lot of beautiful and fun memories with your family and friends this year. I think some of the extras are what make it special. Extra kindness, extra generosity, extra fun-making, extra goodies, blasting Christmas songs … they’re all important!
I hope what you take from this post is that YOU get decide what makes Christmas special to you. Ignore your friends and what makes it special for them! Rest when you can so that you have the energy to live in the moment and feel true joy.
7 – Plan ahead
I’m saving the most obvious tip from me for the end. It is not too late to plan ahead. I’ve got some Holiday Planning Pages (aka free printables) to help, but they’re not required.
A pencil and paper will go a long way. Do a brain-dump of what you need to do, then make a plan on how to group things and spread tasks out. A little planning ahead can go a long way!
I truly wish you so much joy this Christmas season. I think if you work for it, you’ll find it. It comes in quiet moments and it comes in big loud celebrations. The joy of Christmas comes through the love of God available to all of us. I pray you find Him this Christmas season and feel the joy He wants for you.
From my home to yours,
Thank you Mary, I needed your little pep talk. We don’t even have Christmas decorations out this year, just a wreath. No one cares but me so why stress this year, might be the “new norm” that I like now. Thanks for your reminder!
I wasn’t in the mood to decorate this year, but I let my kids take the job over. They loved it. Win-win!
This is just what I need these days! Keeping it perfectly simple might be perfectionism as well! Just relax, enjoy, have fun, PLAY… Thank you so much, Mary <3 A blessed Christmas season to you and your loved ones!
Yes, it is definitely a form of perfectionism! ! hope you figure out the right balance for you! Merry Christmas!!!
Suzy Taylor Oakley says
You always give such great advice, and I know that a large percentage of it comes from your own experience. Thanks for helping this recovering perfectionist remember to slow down and cherish. We don’t do a big Christmas anymore, and I really don’t miss all the hubbub (I miss an itty bitty bit, though 🙂 ). I’m grateful for Jesus and his sacrifice for us; that’s all I need.
Christmas joy is a gift from Jesus, so he is all we need to feel it!
ps – congrats on your new book!
Suzy Taylor Oakley says
Thanks, Mary! I scheduled this post for a couple of Pins and I’ll post to FB tonight. Merry Christmas!
Oh, thank you!
Thank you for this post and the free printables!!!
You are so welcome!