As a reformed perfectionist, I can totally relate to those of you who start to feel pressure to create the most amazing Christmas, soon after Halloween ends and long before the Thanksgiving Turkey is served.
Christmas is so meaningful to me, and my parents ALWAYS created such a beautiful experience for us as children, that I just about killed myself off each year, trying to recreate it for our own kids.
So today I want to share a few things I learned the hard way, -in hopes that I can help you get over this tendency yourself, and have a more peaceful, joyful Christmas season.
So I’m resurrecting a former post and adding a few more tips.
Here’s my question for you: “ARE YOU EXPECTING?”
Haha, -we’ve all learned not to ask that question until about the 8th month! But that’s not the type of expecting we are talking about today.
Are you the gifted type of person that can create the PERFECT holiday in your mind? Maybe you watch an occasional Hallmark movie, but the dream in your head is better than anything on screen, and you work your fingers to the bone to make it a reality?
I am! -or, at least I WAS. I made so many plans, -had SO MANY expectations!
I planned exactly how our Christmas tree should look. I planned the events we would attend, the parties we would host, the gifts we would give -and how they should be wrapped. I planned the menus, the activities, the baking, the neighbor gifts…the movies we would watch, plays and concerts to attend… and every other little detail, right down to the scented candles that would make our home smell like freshly cut evergreen trees.
I worked so hard to make sure it was the perfect celebration for everyone and I was completely attached to my plan. I could see how it should go. How people should respond. How my family should feel… I foolishly believed I had that much control,- I believed it was my job!
And I was completely worn out by Christmas Eve.
As humans, the reason we want things and take action to get them, is because of how we believe they will make us feel.
This is important to understand because it allows us to look a little more closely, and determine whether something we plan will truly provide the outcome we want.
Here are my top six tips to help you experience the joy you want to feel this holiday season, without driving yourself (and everyone else around you) crazy!
- Stop trying to manage everyone else’s Christmas experience. If you are working overtime to make sure everyone else is happy, ask yourself, “why?” It’s impossible for you to make anyone else feel anything. Their thoughts create their feelings. Let them have the experience they are meant to have, and work on managing your own thoughts, and feeling the way you want to feel.
- If it’s not a “heck yes!”, it’s a “heck no!” If you operate in a people pleasing mode, you aren’t living in personal integrity. If you want to say yes, just make sure you like your reasons. And if you discover that it’s not in line with your goals for the month, it’s okay to say, “Sorry, not this time.” (And remember, you don’t need to worry about managing the feelings of the one who made the request!)
- Give without strings attached. If you have a generous heart and love to give gifts, be it a present or a gift of time/service, let the giving be your reward. Give without the need for appreciation or reciprocity.
- Ask for what you want. If you have something you’d really like, speak up! It’s so funny; we teach our toddlers to “Use your words!” but we don’t take our own advice. Why? We think that because someone is an adult they should just know?? If you don’t ask, it’s YOUR fault… and even then, let the request be enough. If you don’t receive what you want, no worries! Have your own back and get it for yourself! When you are managing your own emotional health, YOU are the only one you need to make you happy. Anything beyond that is just icing on the cake.
- Determine your purpose for celebrating. Why is Christmas important to you? Is the way you celebrate reflective of your beliefs? As you celebrate the birth of our Savior, how do you pay honor to Him and His teachings? It’s worth taking the time to reflect on these questions, and plan accordingly. You might find that your priorities shift a bit.
- Celebrate each day. Plan to experience joy. Rest, read, reflect, play your favorite music, take care of your body. Take short cuts wherever possible and fill your own cup, so that you have something to give. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to give your family a beautiful Christmas, but more than gifts and surprises, they want you to be happy and to enjoy it with them.
Please my friends, fire yourselves from the job of making others happy. Focus on showing up in the way you want, -the way that feels congruent with your core values. And leave everyone else to manage their own emotions.
I’m wishing you all a beautiful holiday season. Be intentional, be grateful, be joyful and most of all, love unconditionally. After all, that unconditional love is the reason we celebrate.
Much love to all of you!