Why I'm Quitting Christmas

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I am not joyful about the holiday season. I wish I could be. I want to be. But I’m a type A, organized, achiever of things, so the month of December represents one long to-do list for me. It might not be as stressful if it weren’t for the fact that I genuinely care about the humans for whom I am providing a magical experience. I want it to be perfect!

Still, can we all agree that shopping for everyone (and coming up with all the gift ideas), decorating, wrapping, cooking, and all the other ‘festive’ stuff is hard work? Let me say that again. It’s HARD WORK. It’s exhausting. 

This time of year is supposed to be rewarding, but I confess that I haven’t experienced a holiday like that since…well, ever. I remember my mom complaining once about how hard Christmas was on her, and I thought, “Real nice, Mom. So, the act of loving your family by showering them with thoughtful gifts is the worst thing ever? Love you, too.”

Okay, I was judgy. 

Maybe it’s irony that twenty years later I find myself complaining about the same thing. I guess I’ve officially become my mother. Perhaps it’s mom’s revenge. But that’s a whole different blog post. 

The thing is, that’s at least two generations of women in my family who have lost enthusiasm for the most wonderful time of the year. 

THIS IS NOT WHO I WANT TO BE AT CHRISTMAS!

If you are the sort of person who loves this time of year, I beg you to share your secret. But if you tend to be more like me, killing yourself to make everything merry and bright, and you’re over it, come a little closer. 

You’ve heard before that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Been there. Tried that. It’s still true.

If a different result is the goal, that means we have to try a different approach. 

Full disclosure: I did not set out to make this change, it came through force. And not the Jedi kind. For whatever reason, this year has been astronomically more busy than usual. I’ve been handling my mom and dad’s estate (since my dad passed several months ago), I’ve been juggling a home renovation, babysitting my daughter’s high energy dog (and my two little ones) while she’s been studying overseas, I’m hosting a podcast, trying to start a consulting business, planning my in-law’s 50th wedding anniversary family trip, all while spending quality time with my husband and family. It’s a lot. So, I did something utterly crazy.

I quit Christmas. 

I haven’t put up a single decoration. I haven’t planned any menus, sent any cards, or gone to any tree lightings. I haven’t nagged my husband to hang Christmas lights or carry heavy boxes from the attic.

Instead of trimming the tree, I’ve trimmed the heck out of the holiday.

Now, I’m not a total monster. I am buying gifts for my family, but even that is different this year. Instead of worrying about how to make each gift super special, I’ve purchased a few thoughtful things for each person or gone the easy route. For example, my son is tough to buy for so rather than me freaking out over finding the perfect goodie, he’s just getting some money. (Don’t worry, he doesn’t read my blog and it’s a solid gift choice.)

The point is, I’ve stopped doing all the underappreciated stuff. I’m not the Fairy Godmother of Christmas anymore, and I am so much happier! In fact, the only complaint I’ve heard is when my son came home recently and noted that since we don’t have lights on our house, everyone will think we’re Scrooges (Look up A Christmas Carol if you don’t know what that means.) You know what I said to my son?

Let ‘em.

I couldn’t possibly tell you who had Christmas lights on in my neighborhood last year and therefore suspect our lack of lights will be forgotten as quickly as it was noted. Besides, anyone with enough time on their hands to take Christmas lights attendance for each house each year might be the biggest Scrooge of all. Just sayin’.

I didn’t set out to quit Christmas, but I feel calmer, less stressed, and honestly, a little more joyful.

My plate is still pretty full, but the pressure valve has been released. It makes me think that a culturally competitive Christmas might be the reason for the stress of the season. I don’t want to pass down a legacy to my kids of becoming a Christmas kill-joy.

I’ll probably reinstate Christmas next year because there is too much about it that I love. I’m just taking a year off. Maybe we’ll remember the true meaning of it all or maybe we won’t. I’m not going to stress about it. Instead, I’m going to pour a glass of wine and enjoy myself.

If Christmas seems to be sucking the life out of you, too, pick a few things and let them go. You aren’t getting graded for décor, food, gifting, and overall experience. There is only one rule: you are not allowed to get your feelings hurt if no one acts disappointed that you skipped something. Instead, use that reclaimed time to have some fun! That’s what I’ll be doing. 

Happy December, friends!