My journey with Christmas began in 2009. Up until that point, Nicholas and I had always traveled to our family’s and spent the holidays in someone else’s home. When Griffin was born, we spent our first holiday season in our own home and it was wonderful. The next year we traveled to Nicholas’s family for the holidays, which was hard, but we still only had Griffin so the trip itself was easy.
As many of you already know, 2011 was the year that changed everything for our family and how we celebrate the holidays.
Nicholas lost his job in mid-November and we decided to celebrate Christmas without Consuming. We borrowed a tree. We canceled our Holiday Open House. We gave gifts of time and energy instead of presents.
In many ways, that Christmas was the best thing that ever happened to our family.
It brought a certain intention to our celebrations. I began carefully examining the all-too-easy excess of the holiday season and realized that you really can say no.
However, much like Jessica’s journey, continuing to cut back began to depress me. Once our financial situation wasn’t as dire, I wanted a live tree. I wanted to open our home for friends and family. I wanted to buy my children presents.
My problem was that I wanted it ALL. There are so many traditions and specific celebrations that are important to me during the holiday season. So, I kept adding and kept adding, while at the same time adding children and familial obligations.
As a result, I spent many a holiday season stressed, overwhelmed, and over-committed.
Jessica had been preaching her “Start planning now!” mantra for a while but I was SO resistant.
First, I thought it was mainly about buying gifts in advance. In my mind, I still had my pre-kid gift list from 2008. It didn’t seem like a big enough deal to spend months working on in advance. (Turns out, when I wrote it all down, it’s a pretty big deal.)
Second, I hated the idea of celebrating Christmas early. I didn’t want to suck the joy from the season by jumping the gun. We ALL enjoy grumbling about Christmas decorations going up in the mall before Halloween is barely over and I didn’t want to be part of the problem.
Lastly, I just couldn’t understand how it would help ME. I love Christmas. It’s not that I wanted to cut back after all and completing tasks beforehand felt like cutting back in a way.
Boy howdy. I was wrong. wrong. wrong.
Last year, Jessica FINALLY convinced me to join the team and pre-plan. So, every month on the 25th beginning in August I would check the Facebook group, watch the video, and see what I could do. Sometimes I wouldn’t do anything. Sometimes I would do a lot.
However, every month what the group did was put Christmas on my radar.
Turns out I had lots of great opportunities to buy Christmas gifts if I was paying attention. My town has a spring arts festival with TONS of amazing gifts. Last year, one of our local gift shops went out of town and I literally purchased all my gifts for under $300. I would never have even thought to buy those presents otherwise.
I also began to realize that there were some Christmas traditions that I love to do BUT that don’t need to be completed during the busiest time of the year. Instead of spending one night late updating Christmas card addresses after returning from a holiday party, I did it in October! I bought my stamps. I had the photos taken. Then, ALL I had to do come December was the part of the process I enjoyed the most - picking the design and sending them!
I realized I love decorating - not making - Christmas cookies with my children. So, in early November, I made all the dough, rolled it out, and stuck it in the freezer. Now, I’m not exhausted by the time it comes to actually decorate.
I also decorated my home in advance - something I swore I’d never do. However, through the group I realized that it is having a decorated home I love come December 1st - not decorating. When I put it off, I spend a few hectic days doing nothing else just to get it all up so we can enjoy it. This year I started a few weeks early and, as a result, was able to craft new decorations I’ve been meaning to do for years.
The other huge change I realized is how I felt overall. I have a tendency to pack my schedule and Christmas was no different. It works great to pack everything in… until it doesn’t.
I ruined FAR too many Christmases by not allowing space and breathing room for things to go wrong. Last year, I dealt with a major lice outbreak. Any other holiday season this would have sent me into a panic because there would have been SO. MUCH. TO. DO. Last year? No big deal. We’ve got time. Broken garage door? No big deal. Broken down CAR? Rolled with that one, too!
PLUS, I realized when I left a little wiggle room in our holidays season by planning ahead I also had more room for things to go RIGHT. The kids want to go see the holiday lights again? Sure! My husband wants to spend a little more time hunting for stocking stuffers? No big deal.
So… if stopping in for a mid-holiday season massage sounds good to you, what are you waiting for! Sign up for our Christmas Comes Early course. You’ll get a personal assessment form so we can help you figure out what works best for YOU. Access to our Facebook group and videos for ideas and accountability. AND daily emails once the holiday season kicks off!