When It Needs to be a Simple Christmas – When You Have No Time
There could be a million reasons you are time crunched this Christmas – family obligation, a huge project at work, etc. One of the things I would ask you to consider – do you feel a time crunch every Christmas? If so, I would strongly recommend that you not only make some accommodations this year, but really take a hard look at your own expectations for the holiday season.
“When I got divorced 8 years ago and had to make huge changes in life with my four children, I asked them what was most important to them. We chose two traditions – the advent calendar and sugar cookies, plus their favorite gifts of pajamas and a book on Christmas eve. Since then each year I make the same offer, so far it remains the same traditions. So much easier than all the shopping, baking, cleaning, decorating I used to do. Instead of having a beautifully decorated home, fabulous things to eat and lots of Christmas presents and a frantic mom, they now have an easy going, low key, lightly decorated Christmas with a very present mom. Life is better. Christmas is easier. We are all happier.”
Sometimes we are so afraid of making changes because we’re sure that everyone is going to be so disappointed by what we’re not doing. The reality probably is that we’re doing a lot of things that are only important to us, and possibly only for tradition’s sake.
I did an advent calendar every year. It was big and cute and had 24 pockets at the bottom, each holding a wrapped ornament for my kids to take turns placing on the big felt tree.
One year I brought it out, hung it up, and announced to my 11year old, Justen, that it was his turn to unwrap the advent surprise. His response? “Is there money in there?” Um, no… “OK, then just let Kimmy do it.” I was crushed.
Truth was – Justen didn’t care about the advent calendar, and after a couple of years, neither did Kimberly. Yes, we still celebrated advent, at church. But they were past the age of wanting to unwrap knickknacks every morning for a month.
I wrapped up the advent tree and put it away, a little sad, but also realizing that it still had a future: seven years later my brother had a daughter, Elsa, who now does the advent tree, and someday Elsa will outgrow it, probably about the time that my kids will start having kids and the tradition can continue.
Here is what I’ve learned about Time and Christmas:
- You need to ask your family what is important. Immediately stop doing anything that your family doesn’t find important to their own holiday celebration.
- 2. You are the one putting the most pressure on you.
- 3. Everyone gets a pass. Give the rest of the people in your life a pass as well. Have the conversation. I told my extended family that we were happy to host this year, but I would be buying the entire meal. My mom wasn’t in a position to host this year, but was happy to shop and cook for us at my house. Everyone is contributing, but no one is being stretched.
- The phrase, “It just won’t be Christmas without…” must be banned from your vocabulary. The only thing you need to celebrate Christmas is a relationship with your savior. Not trying to get all Pharisee-ish up in here, but we must remember the rest is the fudge on the ice cream that is our true reason for celebrating. Don’t make yourself crazy with ideas like “It just won’t be Christmas if I don’t put all the ornaments on the tree.” Or “It just won’t be Christmas if we don’t see the Nutcracker this year.” Yes – it will still be Christmas – it will just be a Christmas where you aren’t stretching yourself too thin.
- Changing traditions gives you freedom. So you only put up a tree with lights, no ornaments (like we are doing this year.) Think how much fun it’s going to be to see those ornaments next year! Tradition can be a merciless slave driver.
What are your time tips for when you just don’t have time at Christmas – how do you still make it the kind of holiday you want to celebrate?
She and her husband Roger are the parents of four young adults in San Jose, CA. When she’s not dating her husband or hanging out with her puggle Jake, Kathi is speaking at retreats, conferences and women’s events across the US.