Sixty cards, give or take, might feel overwhelming to some people. It might feel like a giant chore, a hand-cramping source of stress, but to me, it feels exactly right. Every card makes me happy and at no time does it feel like a chore.
The same goes with holiday baking. I baked these cute little fellows on the weekend, and decorated them with the kids, and at no time did I feel panicked or stressed or overwhelmed in any way, even when one child made a gingerbread man with a cast on his leg and red splatters all over his torso, or another child plastered twenty M&M's on one cookie.
|Don't eat these yet! I need to take a picture! - quote from every food blogger ever|
|Hard at work at the gingerbread factory.|
|Do I look stressed? No? That's because I'm not.|
Even if it's October, hell, even if it's AUGUST, which is when I usually get the Wish Book in the mail, I start to feel festive when I see Christmas decorations or hear Christmas music. The reason? Because I love Christmas. I love the holiday season and all that goes with it. I just cannot relate at all to those people who are upset by the sight of a decorated tree on November 2 or who feel stabby when Last Christmas comes on the radio. I wander around in my happy little Christmas bubble and forget that for a lot of people, 'tis the season for stress and road rage in the mall parking lot.
I forget that for a lot of people, it's less about singing loud for all to hear, and more about it being Christmas, and we're all in misery.
Here's the thing: it doesn't have to be that way. This is not usually an advice blog, no, nor is it one where I want people to feel bad about themselves that they are not creating their own Advent calendar of quotes from Elf and Christmas Vacation. But I tell you this: I love the holiday season and it makes me sad to think that for many, many people - women, especially - this is a time of stress and unhappiness, of a feeling that you need to do more, more, more just to be doing it right.
There is no doing it "right". Well, there is, but not the way you think. Here is my basic rule that I think everyone should adopt. YES, EVERYONE.
IF IT CAUSES YOU STRESS AND UNHAPPINESS, DON'T DO IT.
Of course, there are always some necessary stresses: visits from people you have to see rather than want to see, duty gifts, family dinners you are forced into hosting, et cetera. But honestly? If the idea of sending out cards makes you break out in hives, DON'T DO IT. If the idea of baking eleven dozen cookies makes you want to stick your head in the oven, DON'T DO IT.
NICOLE'S RULES FOR MINIMAL HOLIDAY STRESS:
1) Bake a zillion cookies only if you want to. If you don't like baking, buy some cookies. Or ask me, I'll bake you some shizz.
2) Want to decorate cookies or gingerbread houses with your kids, but don't have time? Buy some premade stuff from the grocery store, buy some tubes of icing, and go to town. No one will judge you and if they do, well, no cookies for them.
3) If you don't love sending out cards, don't send out cards. Usually those of us who send out cards do it because we like it, not because we are expecting reciprocation.
4) Shop online. Avoid the mall. Give magazine subscriptions. Buy gift bags instead of wrapping everything with handmade paper and six-inch ribbon curls.
5) If the thought of a holiday party is causing you anguish, don't have one. Invite your friends over sometime in January. Everyone will be just as happy - if not happier.
6) Don't feel bad if you can't volunteer with the homeless, box up gifts for the unfortunate, or do other festive good works. Those needs will still be there after the holidays. You can help then.
7) Don't feel like you have to do EVERYTHING to give your kids an authentic and joyous holiday experience.
a) Your kids will probably not notice if you don't make cocoa from scratch, have a daily activity calendar of Christmas-related activities, or have hand-felted a special Advent calendar for their enjoyment. This is especially true if they are under age 7.
b) Your kids WILL notice if you mire yourself in your own high holiday expectations and then have a screaming breakdown over the leaning tower of gingerbread that is your gingerbread house.
c) COME ON. Whatever you do will be awesome. Remember when we were kids and would go out on our own and sled until we couldn't feel our feet and then when we came home our moms made us a cup of hot chocolate from a powdered mix and non-homemade marshmallows from a bag and it was the best treat ever? Kids pretty much are happy with whatever, so don't beat yourself up about using those Pillsbury tubes of sugar cookie dough.
8) If you're hosting Christmas dinner this year, ask everyone to bring a dish. So what if your mom made dinners for 25 people all on her own? This isn't about her, it's about you.
9) Stay away from Pinterest, or if you like Pinterest, then remember that not everything needs to look a certain way for it to be authentically awesome.
|See? This is the worst gingerbread house ever. Yet my kids liked it.|
Remember the most important thing: do what you love to do, not what you feel you HAVE to do, and the rest will follow. xoxo