Christmas. The season of peace, love, joy. It’s a time to create memories and build traditions. It’s filled with gingerbread house competitions, sugar cookie decorating, circling favorite toys in the local ads, cousin pajama parties, candle-lit services, slow strolls through lighted neighborhoods, and past bedtime replays of The Christmas Story. “You’ll shoot your eye out!!” Oh, and let’s not forget the gifts. There’s so much gift giving and generosity. I love the Christmas season!
The problem is those same holiday events can also cause stress, anxiety and physical illness. Growing up my mother often fell prey to the pressure of the season. One year she shopped at such length, the weight of her purse caused her shoulder to tense up. She couldn’t move for days after that. Multiple years I can recall her over exerting herself to the point of illness. It would put her in bed for close to a week. It was all in the name of creating Christmas memories for her children.
I appreciate my mother’s intentions, but not at the expense of her health. When my kids came along we opted to simplify Christmas. Each of our kids receive one gift and a stocking filled with practical items like socks, underwear, a toothbrush and a book. Planning ahead and setting goals to complete things I love to do, like sending Christmas cards, bake cookies, delivering a thoughtful item to our neighbors, and volunteering for a nonprofit are completed within a segregated and manageable timeframe. That helps relieve the pressure of everything piling up as the 25th nears. You don’t want to cram it all in while frantically shopping the extended hours because you’re “making memories with/for your kids”.
Yes, I have amazing childhood Christmas memories, but I also vividly remember the stress and sickness the season delivered to my parents. Let me encourage you with this, it’s okay to slow down. To simplify. To be intentional with just a few items on your calendar. I’m granting you permission. Here’s the problem: if you don’t adjust your pace, your body will do it for you. You will become ill. Sickness never comes at a convenient time.
Plan ahead. Incorporate moments of rest and relaxation. Be sure to take a walk outside, not just through the mall. Take a bubble bath or a Saturday nap. If you’re reading this and thinking, “I have absolutely no time for naps and walks”, then it’s time to begin turning down some of your holiday activities. If it doesn’t all get done, give yourself some grace! A happy parent is much more enjoyable than an ill, anxiety riddled one, even if you didn’t frost cookies this year.