16 December 2012

Rules to a 'no obligation Christmas'

In my last post I shared a bit of my struggle with the busyness of Christmas and mentioned I would share some rules I am trying to follow in order to achieve a more peaceful and stressful season.  Thus my rules to a 'no obligation Christmas'.

#1.  Admit it -  If you are a people pleaser like I am you have to admit to yourself that some of the ways you may pull back on Christmas may not be highly admired by family and you basically have to become okay with this.  For instance, we have decided Christmas Eve and Boxing Day will be family days in our household and we will avoid any Christmas parties on these days.  This new rule means we won't be attending a Christmas Eve celebration we have in the past and we also won't be attending any extended family Christmas gatherings on those days so as to avoid multiple busy days and evenings in a row. "You can't please everyone" they say and I am still learning and re-learning this one.

#2.  Compromise - So like I said above, if you are a people pleaser like me it may kill you to know a family member might be bothered by a change such as this so we have opened up our family days (to an extent) to close family members.  For instance, we attend a Christmas Eve service at our Church in Toronto and we have invited our family members to join us if they wish.  Other activities we may do on these days include: skating, a walk to look at Christmas lights, hot chocolate at a local cafe, basically any sort of Christmasy activity which does not take up the majority of the day, nor involve gifts and is more active in a low key sort of way. Family is welcome to partake in the low key festivity.

#3.  Shop Thoughtfully - I love gift giving, it's basically my favourite part of Christmas.  But sometimes I can go a bit overboard and buy an extra gift or two for a person when I've already bought them plenty.  This year Brett and I have decided to change a few things about the way we gift.  Firstly since we always do stockings to most of our immediate family we have decided that along with a few odds and ends we are going to write letters to that person as a more personal touch.  I'm not trying to go overboard with the sentimentality here but I think it will be nice to take time each year and think through why we appreciate those who are closest to us and to then tell them this.  I am hoping this will make our stockings a bit more special then something you quickly rip through to get to the good stuff.

#4.  Shop Early - Enough said!

#5.  Incorporate Traditions - I think establishing traditions help with the overwhelming nature of the season.  You know what to expect, you know when it will happen etc.  In many ways it helps organize Christmas and organizing helps alleviate stress.  We have always put our Christmas tree up the first week of December thus we know what we are doing on this weekend and since we also exchange a ornament each year we know we have be prepared by this date. Traditions don't have to be complicated they just have to be consistent.

So there it is!  I am hopeful that in sticking to my rules this year that this Christmas will be one of the best yet but with that said here is my final rule for myself.

#6.  Be Realistic and flexible - This one may be the hardest to follow for me but it is very much the most important.  I will often come up with an idea at the very last minute and kill myself to make it happen so this year I am going to try my darndest to be realistic in what myself and my family can handle during this stressful season and focus on the good stuff - family, friends, yummy food, giving gifts, Christmas music, Christmas lights, nativity sets, hot Chocolate, ah the list could go on and on.

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