There really is only one thing you need to do to simplify your holidays. You may google and find a dozen websites that give you 3, 5, even 10 or more steps. Ten steps to simplify! That makes me smile a little.
About 10 years ago I was anxious over everything I had to get done over the holiday season. I wasn’t enjoying things at all and I realized that that it was just getting worse every year. “Where was the joy in the season?” I wondered.
That’s when I had an epiphany. I didn’t have to do all the holiday traditions, programs, parties, decorating, gift giving, cooking, Christmas lights, cards etc. I could simplify. I could do less, but I wanted to make sure that we still had the holiday feelings that come from doing those things.
My one step to simplifying the holidays:
Only do the things that bring you joy.
Marie Kondo, in her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up“, tells how removing the excess things in your life that don’t bring you joy can make your life much more full. She has readers hold each of their possessions to see if they feel that “spark” of joy and if they don’t then she encourages them to let go of it in someway.
Our traditions can have the same hold on us as our possessions do. When we evaluate each one and let go of the idea that we have to do every traditional thing or we have to gift give in a certain way, we begin to feel the holiday spirit again. We have room in our lives to actually enjoy the things we have left, instead of stress over it all.
One of the things my husband and I gave up was giving a gift to each other. For us it was a strain to figure out what to gift and besides, neither of us lacked for things we needed or wanted. It was such a relief! Now we just enjoy the time we would have spent on figuring out presents by just being together in some other pursuit.
If you are going to do something with gift giving though, both parties need to be honest with each other, because for many people gifts really mean something and that process sparks joy in them.
Other things, like our holiday open house, we kept that first year because it was something I loved. I know for some of you that would be a big “no way am I am doing that!” It’s one of those things that made me happy, but it isn’t going to be the same for everyone.
Each year I go through what I want to do for the holidays. It changes from year to year depending on my schedule and what I am in the mood for. We haven’t had an open house in a couple of years, but maybe we will next year.
Traditions are wonderful. They bring people together and create a sense of unity and rightness in the world, but if we are inflexible with them they can also cause tension and pain. It’s important to take time to evaluate what they are doing in your life. Figure out what you need or want to keep and then allow yourself to let go of the rest.
What traditions or holiday plans make you feel joy? What are you going to give up because the spark isn’t there?