Christmas was originally a time in which businesses shut down so that people could spend time with their friends and families. All of the hustle and bustle of businesses were temporarily shut down for the holidays. Today, the opposite has happened. Due to various factors, primarily making gift giving the primary focus of Christmas, the hustle and bustle of the business world is booming more than any other time of the year. Instead of getting time off work to spend with their families as was the practice in previous times, the lowest income classes are required to work longer hours and end up being taken away from their families more than any other season of the year. It’s a sad state of affairs, and whether or not we’re the ones in those retail jobs, I think we’re all suffering from the effects of this new age of rampant consumerism during the Christmas season. Instead of getting the peace and joy that were originally meant for the season, we’re getting more anxiety and depression. Below are five tips I’ve come up with to help this season be a little more peaceful.
1. Don’t Buy Gifts
As mentioned briefly above, in large part what has made Christmas so stressful is the fact that we have made gift-giving the primary focus of the season. This leads to all of the following: worries about getting the right gifts for the right people, worries about offending people for not getting them gifts, the stress of last minute Christmas shopping, worries because we’re spending way more than we can afford. Many people go into debt during the holidays. Does that sound like a cause for joy or a cause for unnecessary anxiety? I think the latter.
What if we decided to ditch the gifts altogether? Businesses would actually be able to shut down for a few days instead of ramping up to score big on Christmas. Culturally of course, this is out of our control, but we can still implement this into our own individual lives. We can decide to let our loved ones know that we will not be participating in the gift exchange this year. In return, we’ll get a lot more. More peace from not going spending money that is not in our budget, more peace from not having to worry about what gifts to get for everyone, not worrying about offending people because we’re not getting gifts for anyone, and more money in our bank account to spend on things that really matter. More money to give to those who are really in need instead of our relatively rich family members who can buy whatever they want anyways.
2. If You Must Buy Gifts, Just Buy Gift Cards
To be honest with you, this is what my wife and I are doing this year. We have told my half of the family that we are not doing gifts this year because they don’t care, and we are not giving gifts to each other, but we are going to be doing a gift exchange with her family simply because if we didn’t there is reason to believe that World War 3 may break out, and we just don’t want to deal with that. However, we did come up with an idea to make our shopping a more stress free experience.
We have decided to just get gift cards for each of the family members to their favorite store. That way we know we can’t go wrong on gifts and we don’t have to spend countless hours worrying about getting the perfect gift. And who doesn’t like a gift card? They can’t not be happy about their gift. I know some people will try to make you feel guilty about not getting a gift, but those people haven’t really thought it through. Buying a gift card for an anniversary gift may not be the best idea, but Christmas is totally different. It’s not a day dedicated to one person like your spouse–it’s a day that you’re giving gifts to many people, and if you’re getting them all gift cards how could they be offended? The person who gets offended for getting a gift card has got some serious mental issues. So the problem won’t lie with you, but with them.
3. Do What You Love–Forget About Everything Else
There are so many Christmas traditions going around now, that it is impossible to fit everything in and it becomes very stressful trying to do so. You’ve got all of the following Christmas activities and more: cutting down a tree, decorating tree, decorating the house, making holiday treats, making Gingerbread houses, Elf on the Shelf, Santa Clause, the Nativity Scene, Christmas Eve Church Service, Christmas Day Church Service, Dirty Santa, Secret Santa, Christmas Eve Dinner, listening to Christmas Music, watching Christmas movies, Christmas Carolling, Sleigh rides, and the list could go on forever, and I’m sure everyone has their own unique family traditions they’ve been doing for years.
How do we have time for all of this stuff? Aren’t we asking too much from Christmas? We’re trying to celebrate Santa Clause and the birth of Jesus at the same time among countless other traditions that make no sense at all. What are we doing? Have we all gone insane? Well, I think so. Most of us don’t have a reason for many of the traditions we’re doing. We’re just going with the flow, doing what we’ve always done and what’s culturally normal.
Anyways, my main point here was that we’re trying to fit way too much into Christmas, and it’s stressing us out. We’re trying to get joy out of a million different activities, and it’s actually killing our joy. Instead, what if we were able to let go of all these activities that are stressing us out. What if we were able to identify 2 or 3 main things that were really important for us to do, and just let go of everything else and said we do it or don’t do it who cares. That’s what my wife and I are trying out this year. We’ve decided that just 3 things are important to us this year: spending a full day with my family. spending a full day with her family, and going to Christmas Eve service at our church. For everything else we’ve just adopted a “whatever attitude.”
We’re not trying to fit everything else in this Christmas, but that doesn’t mean we won’t end up doing it. We’re just letting go of having to do it and having a plan to do it all. For example, we did end up throwing up our Christmas tree, and got a wreath for the door, but we didn’t plan for it. We have listened to a lot of Christmas music on the radio, but we didn’t plan to do that either, and I’m sure we’ll do a couple of other Christmas traditions along the way, but we’re just enjoying the season together, and letting go of all our plans to do everything this holiday season.
3. Take Time Off Work
This may not work for everyone, but I try to schedule at least a week off for the Christmas season every year. This is a good time to rejuvenate yourself and prepare for the new year ahead.
4. Get in Some Alone Time over the Holiday
If you’re following tip # 3 and getting some time off work, I’d also recommend not spending all your time with family and friends. Use this time to recharge your batteries. If you’re an extrovert and you just love spending time with people and that’s how you recharge go for it, but if you’re an introvert like me, you’re probably going to be pretty drained by the time the holiday is over if you don’t get any time for yourself. I’d recommend using this time off work to do the hobbies and things you love to do or have been dying to do but haven’t had time for whatever that may be for you.
5. Settle Down with One Family for the Holiday
The past couple of years, my wife and I have been going back and forth from my family’s house and to hers on the Christmas day as they both live in the same town. This has proven to be a good way to add stress and exhaustion. This year we’ve decided to spend a full 24 hours with one family at a time. That way we’re not rushed to go from one house to the next and always watching our clock for the time.
Many of you don’t have family’s in the same town (I envy you), so for you the tip would be to just stay put at one family’s house for the holidays if you can and maybe trade off year by year. That way you don’t have to spend the holiday in a hectic frenzy.
6. Let Go of Your Perfect Christmas
With this tip, I’d almost like to advise you to throw out everything I’ve said above even and adopt an “I don’t care” kind of attitude in which you are basically going with the flow and just letting whatever happens at the holidays happen. Don’t worry about getting that alone time you’ve been wanting. Don’t worry if you get all the time you wanted with your family. Don’t worry about getting in your traditions, and don’t worry if you get time off work. Just let it go and just see what the Lord causes to happen this holiday season–good or bad. It’s outside of your hands and in his so let go of what you don’t control…you’ll have a lot more peace if you’re able to do that. Easier said than done, though 🙂 Anyways, I hope you have a Merry Christmas! But it’s okay if you don’t, too. 🙂