If your family is like most, the holidays are a time of both excitement, nervousness, and more than a little stress! There can be so much pressure to create an experience which is “exactly right” for whatever holiday and family visiting which is coming your way. Your children want to be praised and enjoyed, but also tend to quarrel and whine like perfectly normal children who aren’t displayed in a catalog. Your beautiful home is always lovely, but when overly filled with individuals and varying decorations, it can seem pressed upon by all sides. How can you streamline your holiday so that it can be cozy and peaceful for your family?
Decorate Your Home
Your regular décor, or parts of it, need to be boxed away for a time, in order to make space for the new things which will be on display. After all, you want the focus to be upon your ornamentation, whether that means a tree, menorah, or any other displays. It can be tempting to put out all the decorations amassed, and there’s nothing wrong with this if you have energy and time! But, it’s also okay to streamline your decor to those pieces which are most critical to you. For example, some families with small children choose to use a lighted tree with no ornamentation, both for safety and functionality.
Have Holiday-Themed Treats
Whatever your family’s holiday is, using holiday treats seems to help everyone get into the mood. Instead of trying to match whatever décor show or celebrity eats on trend this season, think about what things your family has made which remind you most of the holidays. This doesn’t need to be gingerbread, candy canes or jelly doughnuts, hamantaschen, or coconut cakes. Your goal is something that makes you feel gentle and loving and reminiscent. There are many treats which fill that need, and old family recipes, or recipes from your ancestors of old can be what you’re looking for!
Plan Holiday Activities
Whether you’re lighting a kinara, a menorah, or a tree, or whichever beautiful lights your family and tradition include, there are both traditional activities and family traditions which you want to observe. Remember, though, how and where you perform these traditions might change as your family evolves. Some celebrate religiously and some do not. If a tradition is giving you heart palpitations, causing you extra strain and frustration, and making everybody freak out with stress, that is NOT your best tradition! Jettison it and choose something where your family can enjoy both one another and the activity. If your family wants to keep the tradition, find a way to do it where it’s less stressful. Somebody else can make the cookies. Somebody else can cook the turkey. Somebody else can host. It’s ok to enjoy and evolve!
Light Your Fireplace
A fireplace can bring a great deal of warmth and atmosphere. It can be a lot of work to maintain a fireplace in your home. You can purchase a log to use on Christmas Eve, or, if it’s been your tradition, use the base of the tree from the previous year which has been set away as a Yule Log. However you choose, though, to enjoy your fire, don’t make it a set goal to do “correctly.” There might be paintings of families gathered around fires reading Christmas stories, and if your family chooses to do that, that’s awesome. If, though, you can’t fathom that working for you, simply having a warm fire to curl up in front of is fine. Whether that’s under a blanket snuggling a kitten, or whether it’s a pile of children playing video games, what works for your family, works!
Carols and Songs
From ancient history, all people have used some form of singing and literature in their holiday tradition, whether this is in musical form, recitation, or in readings. These communal things actually can lower your blood pressure. Consider taking your show on the road—going caroling or bringing communal recitation or performance to a greater community. Singing together brings the heart rate of the entire group into almost synchronous beating, bringing a greater sense of community amongst each other as well.
If your holidays have a tradition of gift giving, it can become frustrating and complicated to make sure everything comes out even and everybody gets a perfect gift, so don’t. Choose something that the individual will enjoy for their personality, or something that you enjoy and would like to share with them. That’s it. Don’t break the budget. Don’t keep up with the Joneses, or the Kardashians, or your cousin Tillie. Meaningful is more fun.
Holiday stress is real! Remember, even your traditions don’t have to be done only one way. Store-bought gingerbread houses to decorate are fine. Graham crackers glued together to be gingerbread houses are also fine. You can make presents, or buy them, or send cards or not. You can gift wrap in brown paper, or fancy wrapping paper, or stick gifts in bags, or wrap in fabric. Find what works for your family!
Respect the Holidays
It can be easy, while working on your own holiday preparations, to forget that others around you have holidays, too! Now is a wonderful time, especially with children, to explore those holidays and their traditions as well. While you don’t want to attempt to adopt what is not your traditional holy day, having thoughtfulness towards others is a kindness which is taught in most major religious holidays. Knowing and being respectful of the holidays of your neighbors and coworkers is part of being a good human!
You don’t need to be stressed to celebrate appropriately, just adjust and evolve your family traditions to what you need! Remember that enjoying being together is the tradition. Whomever you celebrate with, and how you celebrate is up to you, not the media, or even your friends. Protect your heart and mind for the peace of the season, instead. Saying No is ok!