Do you get the feel-goods during the holiday season? I know I do. I absolutely LOVE the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I love the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and even the feel of the holidays. I enjoy decorating my home, looking at lights, attempting to make homemade cookies, and pitifully wrapping gifts (that’s not my strength). By December 28th, I’m over it all. I don’t want to see a light, hear a jingle bell, or a ho-ho-ho! But I digress.
The Christmas season is filled with love, laughter, and light for many, but it can bring on unnecessary stress when unrealistic expectations are unfulfilled. For some, the holidays are a painful reminder of loss or lack and it’s dreadful for those who are grieving or for those who simply dislike this time of year. But for those of you who embrace this season, how do you get through the holidays without losing your mind? Follow these six tips and jingle your way to a peaceful season:
1. Set boundaries and say “no” if you want
If you know you’re strapped for time, don’t commit to baking six-dozen cookies from scratch or directing the Christmas play if it doesn’t fit into your schedule. Set boundaries and buy those cookies from the store or help with the costumes instead of choosing to be the director. Or better yet, don’t commit to any additional tasks if you don’t want to, and don’t be guilted into taking on extra projects if you don’t have the time, money, or even the interest. Give out of desire and love, not guilt.
2. Be realistic and wise with your spending and budget your coins
Somehow, Christmas has transformed into this competition of who can buy or receive the most lavish gift or who can post the dopest gifts on social media. That is so not the meaning of the season. People are legitimately feeling pressured to floss for the ‘gram and are spending money they don’t have. Christmas is not an excuse to go broke, so don’t do it! Set a budget and stick with it. If you have a large family, pull names for gifts and set a price limit. Even if you have the disposable income to spare, give from your heart, not for the accolades. Love is not equated by the amount you spend, so try creating loving memories and positive experiences. And remember, please don’t compare yourself to others.
3. Don’t go ham and neglect your healthy habits
So you’ve been going hard with the exercise routine and have been eating pretty clean for the past several months. Don’t throw it all away because the holidays are here. It’s so easy to over-indulge because everyone wants to show their love and baking skills during this season with all of the parties, potlucks, and random baked-goods in the company break-room. It’s okay to indulge a little bit but do so in moderation. Enjoy yourself, but don’t go ham and abandon all of your healthy habits. Once you lose momentum, it’s hard (but not impossible) to get back on track. Try to continue or up your exercise routine if you know you’re going to be wilding out with the goodies during the holidays.
4. Forget perfectionism
Let’s keep this simple. Recognize your strengths as well as your weaknesses. I know my gift-wrapping skills suck, so I’ve embraced the fact that wrapping gifts is not my thing, and I’m okay with that. Does it stop me? Hell naw! And if the recipient has a problem with the packaging, then they can give it back (petty, right? I’m a work in progress). If you know you can’t cook or can’t decorate, it’s okay. Just do your best, have fun with it, get somebody else to do it, or go on Pinterest or YouTube and let them teach you. Don’t beat yourself up. Just roll with it. The flaws and imperfections are what keep things fun and interesting
5. Get others to pitch in and help out
Please don’t stress yourself out trying to do it all. It’s okay to ask for help. If you’re having an ugly-sweater game night at your house and you know good sewing and well arts and crafts are not your thing, go to the store and buy an ugly sweater. If you’re having dinner at your house for your large, extended family, ask each person to bring a dish or chip in with the costs. Maybe you don’t know how to hang lights, ask someone to hang them for you. There’s no shame in getting folk to help out. Now if you’re trying out a new macaroni recipe, especially if you’re trying a different type of cheese, I beg of thee to please get a taste-tester before you serve it to your peeps. Now you know we don’t play ‘bout that macaroni
6. Be present, spend time with the people you love, and enjoy the moment
Like I’ve stressed earlier, the holiday season is not about being perfect or gaining material things. It’s about love, life, and the people you share it with. Please, and I’ll say it again, please spend quality time with the ones you love. If you were to ask anyone who’s experienced the pain of a significant loss, they’ll tell you how hard it is to celebrate the holidays without their loved ones.
Do me a favor during this holidays, when you’re with your peeps, put your phones down for a spell, be present, and just relish in the time you have with your family and friends. Cast your worries aside, throw away those wild expectations, forget about the tree with the gangsta lean or that bland macaroni; and just cherish each moment. Experience it, breathe it, live it. Love on your people. That’s the best gift ever, and it’s priceless.