I, like many of you, find that I get all caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Whether I am shopping, baking or crafting, I spend much of November and December hurrying from one activity to the next. And as I hurry through my holiday to-do list I find that I am not fully enjoying this season. It’s supposed to be joyous, but too often, it’s stressful. So this year I’ve said “no” to the hustle and instead said “yes” to less.
My typical mode of operation is to try to make the most out of each day. I often measure this by how much I have accomplished, especially during the holidays, when I usually end up replacing the magic of the holidays with holiday planning and prep. But slowing down and doing less this time of year has actually led to me feeling some of that joy. I’m less stressed simply because I am intentionally making the decision to be more present. This year, instead of worrying about getting it all done, I’ve set fewer expectations for myself – even if it’s been a challenge to do so.
Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t just let the holidays pass me by. I’ve just tried to make better choices about where to put my energy. This means I haven’t done things simply because it is what I have done every year. I’ve done what makes sense for me and for my family this year. For me, this comes down to the differences between routines and traditions.
Traditions are those activities that support our family’s values, like going to church as a family or my father cooking breakfast on Christmas morning. These are rituals that bring us together. Routines are those things which often end up on my to-do list: baking certain cookies, sending cards and decorating my house. And it’s these routines that seem to create the sense of hustle and bustle which I am trying to avoid. While I enjoy baking and decorating cookies, I’m not going to stress about making as many as I have in previous years, and I won’t stress about sending as many cards or putting up as many lights, either. Hopefully by slowing down and being more present I’ll really experience the joys of the season.