Can you believe it… December is in a few days! Eric and I love Christmas! We wanted a Christmas wedding in June. ~smile~ Part of the reason we chose our home is the beautiful evergreen “Christmas” trees growing on the property. Our song is even Greensleeves (i.e., What Child is This)!
However, our love of Christmas does not always remove the stress of Christmas. My introverted, conflict-hating self is not a fan of shopping during December. Emotions are high, people are stressed, and the season of love, joy, and peace does not always bring out the love, joy, and peace in everyone. Even I find myself wanting to scream, “Get out of my way, people!” (Thankfully, to date, I have never acted on that impulse – at least outside of my vehicle!)
Each year, I wish for an easy-going, pleasant, happy Christmas. But, unfortunately, wishing is not enough. To have such a serene holiday atmosphere, we have to create it. A half-hour of thoughtful planning just may change your December from crazy to amazing! Here are ten tips to get you there:
- Carve out time for each other in advance. December will eat you alive if you let it! You will wake up December 26th dazed and confused. What happened? Where am I? What year is it? Did Christmas happen?! Make a December time Tell your time where to go instead of wondering where it went!
- Just say no to over-commitment. To carve out time for each other, you may have to turn down some opportunities. Perhaps you should decline that fifth Christmas party invitation. Maybe you cannot participate in all three Christmas programs at church. It is possible your office mates will have to pull off the Christmas prank without you this year. Determine the number of activities you believe is reasonable and healthy in which you should participate. Then, list those activities which mean the most to you (and/or have the highest eternal value). Next, re-order them from highest priority to lowest. Finally, put a line under the activity corresponding to the number of activities you previously determined – and whatever falls below the cut off line just does not get your attention this year.
- Determine what is important and put other projects on the back burner. Since beginning PreEngaged, Eric and I take off the last two weeks of the year. Partially, because it keeps clients from having one more commitment during the busiest time of the year (we want our clients’ time with us to be meaningful!), but it also gives us a chance to take a step back and breathe in the season. What can you set aside for a bit? Can you get ahead in your classes so you have less homework and projects during Christmastime? Can you modify your training schedule for your next marathon? Can you let that housing project sit for a few weeks? Give December time to be special. Otherwise, it will feel like just another month.
- Shop early. Get your shopping done before every store gets out-of-control crazy! Make it your goal to have your gift shopping completed by a specific date and then sit back and sip hot chocolate in your pajamas while everyone else fights the mob for scented candles and LOL Surprise Dolls!
- Shop online. God bless Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and all the other online Christmas shopping options. We live in a time when Christmas shopping does not have to take us outside of our homes. For low-energy consumers like me, this is a technological miracle. Bundle up, pull up your shopping list, and click your way to a fully stocked Christmas tree!
- Shop at unusual times. My friend and I sauntered into Walmart the Sunday before Thanksgiving to pick up some Turkey Day ingredients, and by the time we left, I was ready to snap! Everywhere I turned there were people, carts, and herds of children! My inner-dragon was firing up a flame. My feet hurt, my introvert was exhausted, and I just wanted to sit down somewhere in silence. So, I was devastated when I got home and realized I needed several more ingredients. No, don’t make me go back! Please! But, instead of going on a Sunday afternoon with the masses, I popped into Walmart at 11 pm Monday night after babysitting for a friend and it was heavenly! I got what I needed, checked out, packed my car, and drove home in complete calm. So, whether you go early in the morning or late at night, (if you feel safe and only if you feel safe), consider doing your shopping when less motivated people are home in bed. ~smile~
- Turn “chores” into dates! Confession: I hate stringing Christmas lights. If you ever drive by my house and see Christmas lights on the outside, you can bet we paid someone, or a friend did it out of the goodness of his or her heart. My tree is pre-lit. But, one way I know to make untangling Christmas lights less annoying is to do it with Eric while a Christmas movie plays in the background. Which seasonal chores can you and your loved one turn into precious memories?
- Make a list of ten ways you want to enjoy December and at least five ways you want to celebrate with your significant other. A 2018 Christmas season bucket list can help you take your mind of off the ordinary and stressful, and help you refocus on what makes you smile at Christmas. For me, it is listening to Kenny Rogers’ Christmas album. ~smile~ As a child, we always listened to it while putting up the Christmas tree, so it floods me with emotion! Maybe you love looking at Christmas lights. Maybe you love Hallmark Christmas movies. Maybe you love volunteering at your local soup kitchen. Write down ten ways you want to enjoy December, prioritize them, share your list with your sweetie, and start crossing off experiences one by one!
- Create a calming Christmas playlist. Relax by the fire or in the twinkle of your Christmas tree while sipping a warm drink and listening to soul-inspiring Christmas music. Talk over your dreams for life with your special lady or gentleman. Picture future generations of little children giggling and ripping open brightly colored packages. When grumpiness tries to sneak in, turn on your playlist. Close your eyes. Remember what you love about the season. And, then let the yuckiness fade away!
- Binge watch Christmas movies! Okay, so it is not Christmas around here until I view Elf, It’s a Wonderful Life, Garfield’s Christmas, and my really old, taped-from-TV, VHS Christmas tapes (you just don’t see those commercials anymore!). Then – and only then – does it feel like Christmas! If your life is too busy to enjoy some classic Christmas movies, your life is too busy. What are your Christmas favorites? Share them with your sweetheart and create a couples’ Christmas movie tradition!
Are you getting excited for Christmas? Are ideas swirling about how you can cast off the stress and put on the cheer? I am more excited for December after writing this post than I was before, so maybe you should do some writing to get yourselves in the spirit of the holiday! Christmas letters, cards, poems, songs – write until you feel festive! Sing until you feel festive! Decorate until you feel festive! Read the account of Jesus’ birth… until you feel festive!
Christmas is when I miss being a child the most. All I worried about was, “When are we leaving for Grandma’s house Christmas Eve?” and ”Will that special gift be waiting for me on Christmas morning?” Though life will never be quite that simple again, I do think we can create moments of simplicity, no matter how short, to take us back to those free and easy days of joy. ~smile~
Kids – kids, Christmas is for kids.
Look around and you will see
Kids from one to ninety-three
Laughin’, lovin’ life and bein’ kids. – Kenny Rogers
Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime. – Laura Ingalls Wilder
How will you and your special someone reduce stress in your December?