I’m a doer and a dreamer. Holiday season loves me. I love the holiday season. However, each year I set expectations for myself that positions me in a such a way that I fail. I fail every time. Not really to other people’s expectations, but to my own; and I beat myself up.
I was listening The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey the other day on the way to a work meeting. I love The Happy Hour. It’s real people speaking about real life, even if their lives seem fancy and admirable. It’s an hour a week… or more where I sit and listen to these folks and repeatedly say “yes! that’s exactly right!” more times than not. Well, this day I was listening to Alli Worthington, and this girl is the coolest. She’s wrote a book and leads a company on women finding their passion, purpose, and potential in the world, linking business and Jesus together. How cool is that?! She’s right up my alley.
Anyways, she recently wrote a book about the impact busyness has on your everyday life and I want to tell you that I have read it, but I haven’t and that would be lying. I just want to. Alli and Jamie were discussing her new book and started talking about Christmas expectations. Work parties. Friends’ parties. Cookie exchanges. Pictures with Santa. Breakfast with Santa. Elf on the Shelf. Hand-stamped craft paper wrapped presents. Christmas family photos. Christmas cards. New Year’s recap email. Presents for the sitter, and the coaches, and the teachers, and mailman, and your favorite barista. Black Friday shopping. Christmas shopping with the girls. Stringing popcorn. Constructing gingerbread houses. Driving around looking at Christmas lights. Decorating everything — your exterior, your interior, your wardrobe, whatever. Ugly Christmas sweater parties. Ugly Christmas sweater hunting. Hot cocoa. Christmas movies. Writing a letter to Santa. Making reindeer food. Volunteering. Donating…
Geez I’m exhausted already.
It’s easy to exhaust ourselves over the holidays. Sure enough, you can open up Pinterest and search “Christmas bucket list” and see how you are not living up to expectations. We tell ourselves that we have to do all of these things, or at the very least, we want to do all of these things. But in all honesty, I make a promise each year to just be “present” during the holidays, “enjoy” them, and “experience” them.
So with that I am making a promise to you not too expect much this year. I am breaking my Christmas busy. I am closing my eyes and picturing what a successful Christmas looks like for me and my family, and not including any assumptions from others in that. It means we might not be able to attend your party this year. It means that my presents may be wrapped in mismatched left overs from our previous Christmases. It means that we will not string popcorn, write a letter to Santa, or buy miniature presents for everyone on our list because we are suppose to. We value you, I promise, but you surely do not want that value pack of mini lotions anyways. Mini lotions do not equal love and honestly, if you think they do, you don’t know us too well. And we will NOT do Elf on the Shelf. Ever.
When I close my eyes and picture the present, relaxed, anti-chaotic holiday season for my family… this is what I see:
- Baby Ollie rolling around in the floor staring at the bright Christmas tree.
- Filling our house with people that we love over cookies and wine.
- Cuddling on the couch with Christmas Ale and The Santa Clause… maybe with some Christmas-themed ice cream, or just Sam’s Choice cookie butter because it is delicious.
- Pictures with Santa.
- Packing up the car to visit family.
- Ending our Christmas night with a drive through the local lights.
That’s it. If it is not listed above, it is optional and although parts of me wants to apologize for that, I am not going to. The “feeling bad” part of all of this is what drives us to an insanely busy holiday season with high expectations and the feel of failure. I don’t want that for me. I don’t want that for my family. And I don’t want that for you.
So what does your Christmas season look like? How is the picture painted in your hear when you close your eyes? If you need some inspiration, I highly suggest listening to Alli Worthington right now and then intentionally imagining your holidays. Make a point to not to set high expectations that lead to that feeling of failure and regret and despair. Break your Christmas busy.