Thanksgiving has come and gone. That means it is now officially legal for me to pull out ALL my Christmas music and immerse myself in my favorite music genre.
I’m personally drawn to the oldies but goodies of Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole or the calm instrumental style of William Ackerman, David Lanz and Windham Hill. The kind I can play while I work and not be distracted. But then there is also my favorite Christmas CD – Michael W. Smith – Christmas or, or, or…
I have a variety to choose from. I always tell myself that I have enough music, and sure enough each year I find something new that I’m sure I would enjoy. Since December can be such a stress filled month which makes my relaxing Christmas music a gift.
This year has felt like a strange transition into the Holiday Season. First, Thanksgiving was really late here in the U.S., and then there was the mad dash through Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday. Actually it’s been a difficult year all around. Add all those things together and I understand why I have found it difficult to get into Christmas mode.
Recently I have come to the realization that I usually put way to much pressure on myself to make it a wonderful, magical, and perfect Christmas. Uhm, yeah, like that is going to happen! Typically December is one of my busiest months in my web development business, which restricts my available time to get thing done. My version of what an ideal Christmas season should be is just not realistic.
One of the triggers for me to start looking at the way I approach December in a new way was from a great video series called “12-days to a Stress-Free Christmas Challenge” from Ruth Soukup on her site LivingWellSpendingLess.com. The number one thing I got out of it was the idea of making a list of priorities, a list of what what my top must-dos in December. Maybe even more importantly, what I can I stop doing?
So for the past week or so I’ve been contemplating this idea of Simplifying Christmas and changing my expectations. Here is a list of things I considered.
- It is important to remember what the Reason for this Season is. The birth of Jesus. That is the entire point of Christmas and it is so easy to forget that.
- What are the most important traditions that I can’t do without this year? What can I let go of?
- What is my budget? Not just financially but what is my physical and emotional budget. I don’t want to overspend in my gift buying or over extend and over commit to the point I am physically or emotionally so wiped out and can’t enjoy anything.
Here is What I Came Up With: How I’m Simplifying Christmas
I have found a couple of great books that I am using to follow the days of Advent. The first is “Make Room For Him” a great book that links the Old Testament and the New Testament about the birth of Jesus. I’m also going to use a book by Ann Voskamp called “The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas” I’m really looking forward to starting this one, it arrives this week.
Once I look at the most important traditions that I want to keep and observe, turns out it’s actually smaller than I realized. The list includes events that if they do not happen, I’ll be disappointed.
- Christmas Tree – Done!
- Music – not only my huge Christmas music collection but my Alma Mater, George Fox University, puts on one of the most amazing Christmas concerts I have ever attended. I missed it last year, I already have my tickets for this weekend.
- Food – I’m cutting back on the amount of baking I will be doing, but it will be happening! Strawberry pancakes with whip cream on Christmas morning. I insist on that one…
- Movies – Last year I didn’t watch all of my Christmas movies, at least not all my favs, this year while I’m making and wrapping gifts I want to make a point of watching them. Last year I even missed Rudolph!
- Friends & Family – Just being with them when I can, enjoying the fellowship.
Faith, Family, Friends, and Business. I admit this one is hard, business runs my life at the moment. This is a great time of year to take a closer look at that and get my priorities back in order.
My creative juices flow this time of year, I like to create and I like to go see creative people. I love craft shows at Christmas time. This weekend I will be visiting a few.
Christmas is one of the hardest things you can simplify.
The expectations we put on ourselves. The effort we make to make sure our family has a special Christmas. The expectations the media throws at us daily through movies and commercials of what the perfect Christmas should look like. Even the expectations of our family on where you should go and when, so to avoid hurt feelings we go with it.
While working to simplify Christmas is hard, it is worth so that we do not look back on December 26th and wonder, what happened? Where did Christmas go?
This year, what expectations can you let go of so you can simplify your Christmas?
Marta Goertzen is an entrepreneur, writer and nature photographer. She daily explores the trails and beaches of the South Central Oregon Coast with her buddy Bailey. You can follow along on their adventures on Instagram. She is also the author of several books including her newest, “Choosing Gratitude: A Daily Quiet Time Journal”.