So, how was your holiday? Was there magic and wonder? Were relationships harmonious and full of love? Were the gifts perfectly given and received? Was the food magnificent? Did snow softly fall and candles glow? Was it everything you hoped it would be and so much more?
Chances are, there may have been more than a few holes in your ethereal Christmas bubble. And mine, too.
But you know what? It’s okay.
Surprisingly, this year was one of the hardest holiday seasons for me and one of the best. I spent a lot of time beforehand pondering the meaning of it all, how as a society we are blindly feeding consumer gluttony while poverty and hardship afflict so many. How so easily the wonder of Jesus gets swirled around, diluted, and forgotten. How difficult it is to teach my kids the true “meaning” when all they can think about are hanging stockings.
All of these ponderings combined with a move to another state, a new home, new proximity to family (meaning new traditions to be made), traveling throughout most of November, and ill-timed HORMONES, were enough to thoroughly overwhelm this usually imperturbable, “roll-with-the-punches” chic. I didn’t have a clear vision for what I wanted Christmas to look like for our family and eventually the punches rolled me straight into a weepy meltdown.
In business we are taught, “Plan + Do + Review”. Make a plan, do the plan, then review what happened and make necessary tweaks and changes for next time. In doing so, you never “fail” but rather “learn” from it all instead. I love it.
I’m not sure why it’s so difficult to apply the same principle in my personal life, too. I can keep it together for business well enough, but when it comes to expectations I put on myself in my role as wife/mom/Christmas-tradition-aficionado, apparently the default is to curl up and cry a river when the wheels come off. (Did I mentioned the hormones? *facepalm*)
However, I want to learn from all of this, and take a moment to look back at what worked, what didn’t work and what I’ll plan for next year. I would love for you to do the same! This year may have blown your socks off – or not. Either way, having a plan for next time will make life a lot easier.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK:
- Traveling every weekend in November and the first weekend in December only to wake up groggy from a 2 hour time change on December 5th without a plan.
- Next year: create margin in the months leading up to the holiday season by scheduling time in October to map out a solid plan, order necessary materials. Also note that December 1st will be our 10th anniversary so EXTRA PLANNING must happen to get ahead of the game.
- No plan for Advent save 25 empty numbered linen bags hung across the mantle and a paralyzed mommy realizing that 25 days (or maybe just 20- remember the jet lag?) is a lot to figure out in terms of trinkets and candy – which they really don’t need anyway.
- Next Year: Collect and add Christmas books to our collection and have those wrapped and ready to open each day. Consider felt Jesse Tree ornaments from Etsy.
- Inadvertently leaving the Christmas tree in the garage in Oklahoma
- Next Year: Have the tree and decor ready to go the weekend of Thanksgiving (duh, right?!).
- Stressing over what wine/beer to pair with the fondue cheeses for Christmas Eve dinner
- Next Year: Embrace the fact that our little family would much rather have a traditional queso and whip up an amazing crock of that instead.
WHAT DID WORK:
- Candlelit Christmas Eve “fondue” dinner tradition – kids loved all of the little berries, crackers, grapes and other goodies and although they didn’t officially dip anything, it was still declared a “feast” and enjoyed by all. A reminder that food doesn’t have to be fancy, but given and received in love and made special with something as simple as candles.
- Christmas Eve family gift-giving – combining this with our sweet dinner allowed Christmas morning to be more relaxed as the kids enjoyed playing with their already opened gifts. Score one for extra snuggle time in bed!
- Keeping relationship at the center of our extended family gathering sans gifts and having an extra “pajama day” to hang out, work puzzles, ride four-wheelers and eat brunch.
- Making ahead Breakfast Enchiladas, French Toast Casserole and Hash Brown Crusted Quiche for our day-after Pajama Brunch.
- Delivering homemade cookies to the neighbors on December 23rd (albeit impromptu and after having to rally and borrow ingredients from mom!).
- Sending New Year’s Cards instead of Christmas cards to ease the stress-load of December.
I’ll be adding to this list as I think of things and referencing it in about 10 months! What are some things that worked for you this year? What is one thing that you will do differently next year?!
Remember, you are enough – the expectations we place on ourselves are nuts sometimes!