A Third Thought for the Holiday Season

The holiday season is moving right along, and I hope you have had some joyful moments so far. In my experience, the holiday pressure can intensify about mid-December. Parties tend to be in full-swing, gift acquisition, wrapping and shipping needs to be completed, and if you are traveling for the holidays (or others will be visiting you), extra plans are underway to ensure everything goes smoothly. In some cases, work demands ramp up as you work towards the end of the fiscal year. When our schedules are under duress, it is wise to consider what we might be able to either eliminate or postpone. Today’s thought for the holiday season provides one option to consider: skip any tradition that diminishes, rather than enhances, your holidays.

Thought for the Holiday Season. It is okay to skip a tradition.

It is tempting to feel that we must pursue every tradition, every year. However, there are some years when the extra effort is simply not worth it. For example, you may be:

  • Moving/changing jobs
  • Swamped with caring for a sick loved one
  • Struggling to meet a work deadline
  • Grieving
  • Not feeling well yourself
  • Financially strapped
  • Dealing with other, more pressing issues

For any number of reasons, this may be the year to let one or two things go. Admittedly, we may feel a bit melancholy or even guilty about skipping a tradition. However, the truth is, you (and everyone around you) will have a better holiday season if you are less stressed. The world won’t collapse if you don’t send cards, leave the elf in the box, buy cookies instead of bake them, decline an invitation, order take-out, etc.

If the very thought of an activity makes you want to cry, let it go. There’s always next year.

Is there a tradition that you’ve been tempted to skip, this year or another year?

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25 thoughts on “A Third Thought for the Holiday Season”

  1. I feel like you wrote this one for me. Things have been ramping up week by week. More party invites, client activity is in full swing, travel, hosting, and more. One of the things I loved about lockdown was there were no invites to navigate. No one could go anywhere, so I didn’t feel overwhelmed by all of the parties. It’s not like that anymore. Instead, I have to set my boundaries for what feels like enough. I don’t feel compelled to say “yes” to every ask, which helps me keep my sanity. Thank you for the reminder that it’s OK to do things differently. And how important it is to be kind to yourself and gentle.

    1. I remember having that same feeling during lockdown! There was a simplicity to that odd time. The pace was slower, and the social expectations were instantly lightened. I always experience this ramping up about now, and this is when I start to question why I am doing all the various things I am doing. Are they enhancing my holiday season, or wearing me out? Having the freedom to pick and choose what works this year has helped me for sure.

    2. I agree, it’s been challenging to adapt to having a social calendar again. One thing I’ve noticed is that having had that removed for a time has made many people aware of the activities and people they really didn’t miss, and now they can decide what to do about it. One friend usually hosts a large Christmas dinner with members of both her and her husband’s extended families, and of course families have a tendency to get larger over time. This year she announced she was hosting only her kids and their spouses, and she’s very happy about it.
      Janet Barclay recently posted…CleanTalk: The answer to your spam problemsMy Profile

      1. I am cheering your friend for having the courage to make this decision. Often we carry on with traditions because we don’t want to let someone else down. However, making choices that help us simplify and enjoy the holiday season is not a bad thing. In fact, in some cases, others may actually be pleased with your decision, maybe because it helps them simplify as well!

    1. My parents have less energy these days, and my Mom was telling me just yesterday that they had decided to skip a holiday concert. It wasn’t because they didn’t think the concert would be great, but because they were tired from the various things they had been doing. I affirmed her in this decision, because as you say, “It’s OK.” There are no rewards for the ones who push through the messages their bodies are sending to attend holiday activities!

  2. Every year I do a lot of extra baking. My older son has one that he loves that I usually do last because it is not one that can be shipped. But it is rather time consuming to make and he is really watching his weight this year. I asked him if I could skip making them this year and with a sigh, he gave me permission.
    I definitely am feeling the overwhelm right now so this is a blessing.
    Jonda Beattie recently posted…Organizing Our Jewelry in 10 Minute BlocksMy Profile

    1. In a way, making this suggestion was a gift to your son, right? Not providing a temptation that would be hard to resist. Perhaps in a future year, if he is happy with this weight loss journey, this item might be a reward which he can enjoy with less guilt and more joy!

  3. When the kids were both in college, we decided to stop making Holiday Cookies. This tradition was done when my husband and I got married in the mid-90s. So, stopping this one was hard. However, it was no longer something my husband and I wanted to do.

    My son is working from home, and my daughter is a senior returning home early this year, so we decided to do the tradition again, but a little smaller.

    I agree. It’s OK to let go of a tradition and pick it up later if you want. Thanks for the thought-provoking reminder. Happy Holidays!
    Sabrina Quairoli recently posted…15 Children’s Books About Organizing Their LivesMy Profile

    1. I can relate to this totally. When my children were little, and looking for distractions until Christmas arrived, we used to bake a ton of cookies. Many different kinds, and many that were designed to be time consuming. We also used to build and decorate a gingerbread house.

      After they left, my husband and I certainly weren’t looking for ways to fill up our time, nor did we need a lot of extra sweets on hand. I think there are seasons for some traditions, right? I’ll make a few, but probably the simpler ones, and not nearly so many.

    1. I hear this, Melissa! Some years, you just need to call it “done.” And isn’t it surprising to see that it is still special and beautiful in the new way. Christmas shouldn’t just be a race that we rush through and then collapse after.

    1. I love this, Kim! I helped a client put up her “easy” tress. It was amazing. Two poles that hook together, and then the tree is something like a hoop skirt that just hangs from the pole. It has lights and ornaments and took us hardly any time. So great. 🙂

  4. Loved this “skip any tradition that diminishes, rather than enhances, your holidays”. I have made a few choices this year that I wanted to do instead of “obligated” to do… and… I feel good about my choices. Great blog!

    1. Each year it’s worthwhile to mindfully consider what is wanted, what is needed, and what isn’t. We have the right to pick and choose, and each year may look a little different.

  5. Yes, it’s so important to make sure that you allow yourself the space to say ‘no’ to things that do not work for you, even if they are traditions. The holidays will always have a bit of stress, but we should take control of the things we can to bring ourselves peace during these times.
    Janet Schiesl recently posted…Time Management is DifficultMy Profile

    1. I love when a tradition comes back because it is wanted… desired… longed for. This is when traditions show their power, not when we are pushing ourselves to go through the motions. Glad you had the day in NYC – always fun. Our train parking lot was packed this weekend with many people enjoying the same experience!

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