It’s Coming on Christmas

Posted on November 24, 2015

Yes. It’s coming. Just in case you hadn’t noticed. Step one foot into anywhere that sells anything and you will see that indeed, it’s just around the corner.

Last year I wrote a post called My Christmas, Freshly Cut and it struck a chord with many of my dear ones. You can read it here, but it basically went into the depths of my pre-holiday meltdown and what I did to remedy it. Christmas and the holidays, it seems, have gotten completely out of control. We all know it. It’s no big secret. Yet most of us still arrive at New Year’s Day exhausted and dazed and vowing to never buy into the Christmas chaos again. It’s time to ask the tough question: what are we willing to do to take it back? We want the spirit of the season to resonate within our souls, so a little reflection is necessary before the holiday madness is fully upon us. Because I am already thinking ahead I thought I would share some thoughts.

These are a few of my favourite things:

Make a list and check it twice.

Last year I made a list of things that were essential to me during the Yuletide season. Consider creating a top five or ten and then ask yourself what can be left behind? For example, I love baking cookies from scratch with my kids, going skating as a family every Christmas Eve and decorating with fresh evergreens, candles and twinkle lights. These are non-negotiable for me. I don’t love throwing a huge party that completely exhausts me, costs a fortune and is so hectic that I can’t spend any quality time visiting my guests. I honestly thought I would love doing a big annual bash, but I just don’t, so I let that one go. I also get really overwhelmed by excessive Christmas decor (not just seeing it, but also collecting it, installing it and storing it) so I got rid of more than half of it last Christmas. It wasn’t easy on my husband who is a bit of a Griswald, but happy wife, happy life, right?

Sleighbells ring, are you listening?

Not if you don’t spend a single moment outdoors, you’re not! Baby, I know it’s cold outside (and wet, where we live, very wet!) but part of the magic of the season is outside. In Canada we are so blessed to have four seasons. Get out and enjoy the magic of winter even for just one night. We have a family tradition of going to the Stanley Park Christmas Train before Christmas. We pray for dry weather and make the journey to the park which is positively shimmering with holiday cheer. We also try to get out for a big walk on the beach on New Year’s Day followed by hot cocoa. There’s usually a few more opportunities to get outside for some winter wonderland moments and we take them, especially if we are lucky enough to have a white Christmas. Building snow forts and skating on the frozen pond are huge highlights if it gets cold enough here on the “Wet Coast”.

All I want for Christmas is you

Give the gift of time if you can. I know, I know, time is a precious, ever-dwindling  commodity it seems, but some of my children’s all-time favourite gifts have been gifts of time. A year of monthly tea dates and adventures with Auntie H for my daughter and twice-monthly stick ‘n’ puck dates with Uncle P for my hockey-loving son are two gifts of time that truly shone for my kids. We also have an annual Gingerbread House Decorating/Disaster with family friends of ours. Instead of exchanging gifts we get together and our kids and their dads create an epic gingerbread wonderland and one very big mess. The moms drink wine and take photographs. It is super fun, hilarious and heart-warming. Never once have the children wished they had presents instead. Sure, there will be some stand-out Christmas gifts out there, but for the most part creating memories instead giving soon-forgotten presents is so much more meaningful. If you have people in your life you know would rather do something instead of get something have a conversation, I’ll bet you a box of chocolates they would rather have the gift of your time and the memory to go with it.

Deck the halls

With whatever makes you happy. I realized last year that too much Christmas makes me crazy. I don’t respond well to clutter, chaos or, as it turns out, claymation critters. Sorry, Rudolph and Yukon Cornelius. I know, I hear you saying, “But it’s not clutter! It’s beautiful! It’s festive! It’s Christmas!!!” And you are correct. So if you love to festoon your home with tons of decorations, do it! I’ll be your biggest cheerleader. Hell, I’ll come over and help you. But for me, I need serenity when I walk through my front door. I’m a sensitive gal and I need a break from all that blinking, LED, technicolour jazz when I get home. Don’t get me wrong, I love a beautiful tree or two. Okay, I confess, I love Christmas trees so much that I sometimes have a fake one for long term and a real, fresh one for the smell. But beyond my tree(s) I like to keep it pretty simple. I love evergreens, twinkle lights and lots and lots of candles.

All is calm

Quiet time is so important during the hectic holiday season. Try to take a few nights off. It’s okay! We don’t need to attend every single event we’re invited to. Home is where the heart is and sometimes being snuggled up in front of the tree with the fire crackling merrily, glass of wine in hand and carols on the stereo is the single best place we can possibly be. We deserve a few evenings of calm and bright. Make a simple and cozy dinner and snuggle in for family Christmas movie night. Then tuck in the kids for a long winter’s nap and enjoy some well-deserved quiet time.

O holy night

No matter what spiritual or religious traditions you observe, take an evening – (preferably a crisp, cold, star-lit one; a Midnight Clear, if you will – and consider the beauty in the message behind Christmas. I’m not being preachy here, just suggesting that while most of us are literally buying into the consumer-y part of the season, maybe we should also observe the spiritual part as well. Again, make your own traditions, or revive old traditions if you like. Honour the sacred in the season however you see fit. If you’re a spiritual free-styler like me you go for a moonlit walk and enjoy the beauty of heaven and nature singing. The point is to appreciate our many blessings and send up a prayer, now more than ever, for peace and goodwill towards men. And women too, of course.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Let your heart be light. The main thing is to look at Christmas differently this year. It makes me sad to admit that only a year ago I was filled with overwhelm and a sense of negativity toward the season. Once I made up my mind to have a merry little Christmas instead of such a big, huge, busy, expensive, stressful affair I found the true spirit of Christmas within myself. I’m not being sappy, I swear. Take a big step back and put it all into perspective. Pick and choose your traditions, social events and shopping list with love and intention and feel your heart grow at least three sizes in one day! It worked for the Grinch; it worked for me and it can work for you.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and blessed holiday season from the bottom of my heart.

Charity xx

Also, I’d love to hear your favourite holiday traditions. Feel free to leave a comment or drop me a line.