About 12 years ago I cracked up at Christmas. Literally. I totally lost it. And I couldn’t get it back. In a short period about a year before I had witnessed 9/11, had my first child, moved three times and quit/lost my job.
But that didn’t do me in.
Nope. It was Christmas that was just the final I can’t do this anymore straw that caused me to completely crack up.
There wasn’t enough Xanax to pop for me keep it together. I checked myself into rehab (which cost me another job) and I spent Christmas in that hospital.
The Christmas after that I opted out of a LOT of Christmas obligations and learned to keep it simple. Very, very simple. Debt free and low-obligation.
I want to share a few of the things I have done to maintain a healthy level of sanity during the Christmas holidays.
Because what you want to “attract” or “manifest” this season is a feeling of Joy, Connection, Intimacy and FUN!
1. Draw names: Minimize extended family gifting with name drawing or a rotation. I have three siblings, who have 9.25 children between them. Holy Moses, I’d go broke trying to get them all gifts. So we have a rotation. Each family receives gifts every year, but we give to only one family. I give to each sibling every third year. The gifts are simple, hopefully thoughtful and affordable. The extended, extended family (cousins, aunts and uncles) also has a gift rotation, but I said, “No thank you, I won’t be participating anymore.” They didn’t disown me.
2. Thoughtful Tokens: There are many people who impact my life over the year. I like to give token gifts in appreciation to teachers, friends, neighbors, service providers, kids’ playmates, etc. I highly recommend a stick of bamboo as a meaningful gift that people keep forever. A stick is about $1 – $5. A little vase from the Dollar Store works.
3. Memorable Experiences: An experience is better than a toy. Last Christmas I took my kids to New York City. There were no other gifts. Which was great for everyone.
4. Activities: Santa likes to put an activity like going to the trampoline park in the stockings. You can get smokin’ deals on one of the coupon sites.
5. Don’t go: Yep, I’m advocating that you really don’t have to attend every party, networking event or social gathering over the holiday season. It’s totally cool to keep your circle small and intimate, and give yourself some white space in which to rest and reflect.
6. Make it: When you make your token gift for friends and family it becomes a creative bonding experience for your own family. It’s fun to plan what you’re going to give for the year, fun to make the list of all the important people in your life, fun to buy the materials, fun to bake the cookies or decoupage the frames and it’s really, really fun to deliver the gifts! This is one of our favorite Christmas traditions.
7. Indulge Yourself: Indulge yourself in some things that you really, really want. Whatever it is that you’ve had your eye on—buy it, get it, enjoy it.
8. Indulge Your Soul: Make sure that you take time for yourself to rest and relax. Ask what you really, really want for Christmas. Appreciate everything you’ve done this past year. This is the Season of Light so how to you want to bring Light, how do you want to experience Light?
9. Santa makes more than toys: Ever noticed that the toys your kids got last year aren’t around anymore? They broke or you got rid of them or your kid lost interest after the bright and shiny wore off. Ask what will be really meaningful to your kid. Ainsley loves office supplies. She always has. Santa gave her her first “office” when she was three. She was thrilled. Both kids got newly painted and decorated bedrooms one year. What are they going to use forever? Buy your kid a new bike only if they’ll use the heck out of that sucker, like Zack would.
10. Breathe: This season you’re supposed to move slower and take time to reflect. You’ve worked your butt off this year. So it’s okay if you want to go home at 5 pm when it gets dark instead of running errands. Thanks to the Internet you don’t even have to go to a store to get your stocking stuffers. Watch A Christmas Story, snuggled up with your people, drinking cocoa. That’s the juice!