Those of you who know me know I don’t do holidays. I mean I do but as little as possible, just a glossing if you will. Holidays are about gatherings, laughter, reminiscing, holding new babies you haven’t been introduced to, saying goodbye to those who are no longer with us.
It is catching up on news and yes, the occasional fight or argument. There will be tension because we all have that one (or five) relative/s you have to invite but would rather not.
My distain of the holidays is they are a commercial venture to fill someone else’s pockets (retailers) and supply bratty, narcissistic, greedy hands (of all ages) with tons of shit they don’t need.
How to Take some Stress out of the Holidays
Years ago I was introduced to a bit of a religion that didn’t do holidays and the reason, at least my understanding, was everyday should be special. If you love someone give them gifts randomly without societal pressure for these have the greatest meaning and impact on another person. I prefer to surprise those I love this way instead of because retailers say I should.
When I was growing up holidays were special, don’t get me wrong. My parents did great in that they celebrated the holiday with the decorations and presents but there wasn’t a huge emphasis on gifts rather on family being together.
I am glad for this low key approach to the holidays (though my boys might beg to differ!) because it serves two main purposes:
- I don’t stress out. Not at all. I don’t do Christmas cards, don’t always put up a tree or decorate the house and I don’t play Christmas music. No I’m not a Grinch. I still give gifts and fill stockings and give gifts from Santa but I don’t do what society says I should do. Why? Because I could give a rat’s ass what other people think. I do however want my sons to understand this time of the year is about family, helping others less fortunate and finding joy in life, not things.
- I keep the amount of money I spend per person within a reasonable limit. I have never understood spending a boatload of money on gifts-especially if I have to go into debt to do it! Unless my gift from someone else is to pay off my Visa, I’m not charging anything I cannot pay cash for. And if there is no cash then I don’t get myself anything because of my piss poor planning!
Ways to make this Holiday Season less Stressful and Save some Money
I love to give homemade gifts. Oh, that is so not cool you say. Fuck off. Kidding. But seriously why is that not cool? And I love to hit the thrift shops for gifts. Yup. I give USED shit for presents. Why not? It is still a gift, still has beauty and purpose and you still have to find exactly what you envision for that person.
Is the distain you feel because you think I’m cheap? Or that I’m smarter than you? Obviously there are some things you will have to buy new, not make or buy thrift. Children’s toys are usually the exception to my rule because of health and safety issues (stuffed animals and things that are not easily cleaned) and all the little parts to things.
When it comes to baking for the Holidays I keep it simple. One thing. This year I’m going to do chocolate covered potato chips. So many people I know make five or seven different desserts-cookies, fudge, dipped things-the list is endless.
My suggestion is to decide on a signature recipe and make that. And only that. If you are giving baked goods as gifts still make just one thing. Dress up the box or wrapper, make the presentation the gift as well. My brother roasts coffee for his signature gift and it is well received and greatly appreciated!
Now if holidays are a big thing for you and you breeze through the season with nary a frown on your face keep doing what you do. Most of us however do not look forward to this season with anticipation because of the stress that hitches a ride along with.
Make Yourself Happy and Save your Sanity!
If you are stressed out, running on borrowed time and energy you don’t have, take a breath and reassess. Most people aren’t going to notice if you cut down on your baking or are giving fewer or less expensive gifts.
Start a new tradition-make this year the year you do things differently. Take up a cause and involve the kids in it. Find other ways besides presents to make the holidays memorable. Find a different perspective on what the holidays mean to you and embrace it!
The holidays should be a time of happiness, a gathering of loved ones for the purpose of reconnecting. If you are stressed out and broke you will find no joy or peace in this time of celebration which completely defeats the purpose.
This season isn’t about gifts, it’s about family, whatever family means to you. Gather your family, toast to another year together, eat until you cannot walk and make new memories!