Whoo Boy! For those of us in the cultural extravaganza of December in the United States, there is an overwhelming mish-mash of marketing, family sentimentality, religious holiday, social obligations, marketing, career obligations, style points, cultural obligations and oh, yeah…marketing.
Whatever stories you are telling yourself right this minute, this second day of December….I just want to point out that you can’t do it all. Not only can you not do it all….it is not desirable to even try.
If your family or work culture mandates that you celebrate with them, you have options beyond a vacation in a non-Christian country during the last month of the Roman year.
Here is your mandate: spend a quiet afternoon all by yourself (coffee shops and book stores count, when you need to get away from obligations) and reflect on what, if any, part of the holiday/cultural extravaganza you value. Write it down. This is the only part you have to participate in. Really!
Over the years, I have valued and opted out of different parts of the celebration.
- I have attended Christmas church services with my family. This year I will work for hospice.
- I have spent $$ and time creating the perfect Christmas tree, visible from my living room and the street, via a window. I do not now.
- I did Secret Santa with my co-workers. I do not now.
- Travel through blizzard conditions for four hours to be with biological family who insulted my life choices. Won’t do that again. Ever.
- Purchased, addressed, mailed Christmas cards to 300+ friends and relatives when I had 2 children under the age of 2 and was so sleep deprived, that 5 of the cards came back with wrong/insufficient addresses.
Here is h0w I celebrate now:
1) Often, I work Christmas day. This allows my co-workers with small children to spend this precious time with their families.
2) My one and only Christmas decoration this year is this wreath on my front door. $18.00 and compostable after the holiday.
3) I do love to shower my children with gifts. But I buy one generic paper wrap (any/all occasion–not birthday, not Christmas, not Valentine’s Day) and I use it till it is gone, then I buy another generic wrap. Other years, I have used the comic section of the newspaper as wrap and also, the paper grocery sacks from the store. When they had logos printed on the outside, I turned them inside out.
4) I shop all year long/ And I re-gift. If I find something that I think would be a great gift for a loved one in February or July…I nab it and put it into my secret storage site. I keep track of how much I spend on each child because….
5) I set a dollar amount that I will spend on each person that I plan to give a gift to. When the kids were very young, it was not a dollar amount, but number of gifts. That was how they counted back then, and I did not want anyone to feel slighted or less loved because of the presents. Now they are older, and a bit more sophisticated. So I set a dollar limit for each person and when I have spent that amount, I stop buying gifts for that person. Sometimes a small re-gift will fall into my lap. I do not tend to count them in the dollar amount. I might if it was something spectacular.
So what do you do to manage the excess of the season?