A Merry Little Christmas
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If you’ve found yourself in past years feeling more disenchanted than merry as you put away your holiday decorations, maybe it’s time to re-imagine your family celebration.
Here are a few ideas for reducing the holiday stress and increasing the joy.
1. KEEP IT SIMPLE
You don’t have to live up to a storybook ideal of the perfect holiday. Michelle Lawson of Roseville saves extended-family get-togethers for New Year’s Day so her own family can spend a relaxed holiday at home. They start Christmas Eve with new pajamas for everyone and stay in them “pretty much all day,” dine on a pre-made meal, and enjoy their new toys and a holiday movie. If you prefer a traditional dinner, everyday dishes and even paper plates have become respectable dining ware. Hand-washing fine china isn’t anyone’s preferred way to spend a holiday.
2. HELP OTHERS
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in buying gifts that you forget many families can’t afford to celebrate. Gretchen Lomax’s family in Roseville holds a food drive every year. Her children decorate a cardboard box, invite friends to drop off canned goods and deliver the donations to a food bank. “This is a way I am able to instill in my children the importance of helping others,” Lomax says. It’s never too late to help. A few years ago, Pat Rogers of Folsom called the Salvation Army four days before Christmas and was able to sort toys for needy children.
3. START A HOLIDAY TRADITION
Gerry Cutler of Folsom created a treasured family history with tree ornaments. Every Christmas, she looked for ornaments that celebrated family members’ milestones. The decorated trees became displays of their happiest moments, and Cutler’s two grown daughters now have ornaments for their own family histories. Another kin preserves memories with Christmas lists. Opt out of online wish lists and have your children write and decorate their own. Encourage them to dream – even if getting their most-desired gifts is a long shot. Years later, these lists become a journal of Christmases past.
4. DON’T FORGET FUN
Lawson throws Santa parties in her garage with the jolly old gentleman handing out gifts the parents secretly provide. Other families make cookies from Grandmother’s recipe and deliver them to neighbors, act out The Night Before Christmas, or drive or walk to see Christmas lights. In one family, the women do lunch in lieu of exchanging gifts. Suspending tradition can liven up a holiday, too. See a new play rather than The Nutcracker. Stop trying to pose excited kids and take action shots of them instead.
5. STRIVE FOR MODERATION
Karen Harvey, CEC, a Folsom life coach, counsels her clients to do only what they must and skip or delegate the rest. There are no rules, she says: It’s okay to bake fewer cookies, put fewer ornaments on the tree or say no to invitations.
Maybe this year, when the holidays are over, what you’ll remember as you pack away those decorations is a month of joy – and even peace.