Images and Article by Rain San Martin
*You can also listen to my audio version of this article on my YouTube channel.
Do you dread the Holiday’s? Perhaps you have too much on your plate. It may be time to start fresh and keep things simple. Bring back the magic of Christmas and enjoy the wonderment of the season.
As a child and young adult I greatly anticipated the festive holiday season. The day after Thanksgiving my Mom and sisters had a tradition of going to the Oaks Mall, in Thousand Oaks (Southern California). This was in the 1990’s, when black Friday was only on “Friday”. We would “stroll” through the mall for a relaxed and pleasant light shopping day. Our highlight was to view a mini-nutcracker performance held at the indoor mall as we sipped on our Ice Blended Vanilla’s (my Mom Nancy a strong cappuccino) from the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. This was when Thomas Kinkade was alive and well painting idyllic Christmas scenes. The truth is, though there are trials in life we can focus on God’s blessings while minimizing stressful activities so that we may live life more abundantly. Thomas Kinkade had personal struggles, yet wanted to capture the essence of joy and wonderment in his eternal paintings.
“The question is not, “Do we experience pain?” Because I think everyone does. But the question is how God can marvelously take those experiences and shape the diamond that he wants to make out of your life.” (-Thomas Kinkade from the Documentary An American Artist: The Life Story of Thomas Kinkade
Over time, after I had a family of my own I noticed that obligation creep had set in, making the holiday season one that I would dread rather than anticipate. I was at a crossroads. I could choose to go on having contempt for Christmas or I could find a way to recapture the magic and simplicity I knew as a younger soul. For the sake of my family and the spirit of my youth I decided to scrape everything and start with a clean slate.
Send Out Christmas Cards Absurdly Early or Even Skip it!
One of my best friends Maria, sends out cards at an alternate time of year. Family and friends are greeted with an updated photo and a warm message. Her annual card is complete. This one tip has greatly eased the Christmas rush. I did reflect on whether this tradition was one I wanted to continue, and decided that indeed I did enjoy the opportunity to update loved ones with a newsletter and photo collage.
Some people have even opted to skip sending out cards altogether. The choice is yours. If the activity brings you joy then by all means send them. However if this activity robs you of peace know that you are not obligated to send them. Women feel the most pressure when the Holidays roll around, those around you will notice if you feel stressed out and burdened. That is why you must cut out any activity possible that weights down your spirit.
Perhaps you could arrange to have family visit at an alternate time of year? Or travel during a less harried season? You may wish to politely decline an invitation to a Christmas party. Suggest getting together in the spring or summer instead. Has Christmas decorating gotten out of hand? A minimalist approach will save time and electric bills.
Give Simple Gifts
I used to pack and wrap Christmas teas, baked cookies and small photo collage albums into individual packages. Though I thought the gift was lovely, the amount of time consumed crafting these packages was mind boggling. Instead I opted to create high quality photo albums with Shutterfly and do nothing else for family gifts outside of our immediate household. They directly ship to all specified addresses at once which saves me ample time. Though I still invest a large chunk of time on the task, it still is less than before and with far more simplicity. If you don’t want to create photo albums you could send See’s Candy or Hickory Farms as a time saver. I use birthdays as an opportunity to give individually requested gifts, as I have more time. If we are one day blessed with Grandchildren, I would expand our gift list to include a few toys or gift cards for them.
Celebrate Your Way
For me the most touching part of the Holiday is when strangers, acquaintances and neighbors wish each other a Merry Christmas at the shopping center, church or other public place. We are reaching out to others with brotherly and sisterly love in a way that we might not otherwise. Only participate in traditions that you can do in sincerity, with a peaceful spirit.
“Do everything in love.” (1 Corinthians)
May you have a Merry Christmas!