Cool Yule (or why I’m not freaking out this Christmas)

Have you noticed I haven’t gone on one of my holiday-induced rants this season?  Normally by this point I’m up in arms about the endless concerts and recitals, stupid holiday parties, and gifts for various people that I’d rather not give.

I’m angry a lot at Christmas.

So stupid of me.

This year I decided to be zen about a lot of things.

I decided to just enjoy my daughter’s concert without composing a mean letter in my mind to the choir director asking that we not have to hear a solo by every member of the choir.

This is just not a year when outside lights are going to happen. Around here, if we want lights, it’s up to me. And I made peace with not having lights. Plus it was rainy and cold most of December. And there is no way I’m braving bad weather for something as pointless as Christmas lights.

I made teacher gifts a week in advance. I took the time to do a nice peppermint soap and didn’t rush through it as I usually do.

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I said no to every party except the school parties and the ward party. I felt slightly grinchy, but one must do extreme things to survive. So, sorry friends who always have the super lame Caroling party. We didn’t really have plans already (and I hope you don’t read my blog!). Also, sorry Bunco and bookclub girls!

I spent much of the month crafting gifts. While I will probably never knit and crochet several gifts again (it was a lot of work! And there’s no way those little kids will appreciate it), it was definitely a big stress release. All that anxiety just drifts away when I make stuff. And, oh my, I had a lot of stuff to make. The little deer was the cutest. Well, so was the elephant.

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I have been wrapping several presents a day. As much as I love wrapping paper, you’d think that doing presents would be my favorite. Which it is if I don’t have a stack of fifty presents staring at me on Christmas Eve. Nothing like procrastinating until the last minute to make something not enjoyable. You’d think it wouldn’t have taken me 40 years to figure this out. (You like my gift-wrapping center? It’s right in the middle of my bedroom floor. I remain, as always, the pinnacle of organization).

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No neighbor gifts. This may seem like the height of rudeness but neighbor gifts are really not done here. The first year we moved in I did my usual over-the-top production (sugar cookies done all in white and silver and personalized with the names of each family member we’d be taking them to). Boy, was I surprised when nobody gave us anything back.  I learned my lesson fast and it has taken a tremendous burden off of me. Plus, it’s good for dieting.

I have really stripped the Christmas season down to its barest essentials. While this seems positively unAmerican, I get overwhelmed quickly. I don’t know why we all knock ourselves out to make this perfect Christmas experience for our children. Here is the truth: whatever you do for Christmas, your kids will love. The end. It is as simple as that. So my family can all be happy with the bare minimum, or my kids can do way more stuff and be just as happy but I will be miserable and practically homicidal by December 25th. Hmmm, that’s a hard choice.

10 thoughts on “Cool Yule (or why I’m not freaking out this Christmas)

  1. This is really great advice. Set boundaries. Say no to somethings and yes to others. It is more about feeling in control during such an out of control month, don’t you think?

    This year I’ve decided to only hand make a few things because it is all I can handle right now. Also, I’ve made a point to work on things (shopping, wrapping, baking etc.) a little bit at a time so it doesn’t pile up and make me crazy. So far, so good.

    I secretly wish we didn’t have to do neighbor gifts around here. It does add one big thing to my list each year and I don’t really enjoy doing it.

  2. Good for you! I had a similar epiphany to your choir concert. Recently when I was reading to the kids before bed and angry about how tired I was. Then I realized that were I being rational, that’s something I actually ENJOY doing, so why not enjoy it?
    Simplification is lovely.

  3. My husband owns an event catering company and by the end of the month, he will have done over 20 events. That is almost 3 times what he normally does. So we haven’t seen a whole lot of him this month. As we neared December, I knew I had to keep things scaled down and under control. So I bought all the Christmas gifts before Thanksgiving and stockings too. I had Christmas cards done and didn’t commit myself to any neighbor gifts or extra parties. What a calm month it has been! I will always do things like this now.

    Good for you for knowing when to say no and not getting all wrapped up in the over-the-top things people make you think you need to do. Reminds me of a quote I posted on my blog today”

    “We women have a lot to learn about simplifying our lives. We have to decide what is important and then move along at a pace that is comfortable for us. We have to develop the maturity to stop trying to prove something. We have to learn to be content with who we are.” -Marjorie Pay Hinckley

  4. Thank you for not putting up the lights outside this year. I felt so guilty about not having any up that I went and bought a little train decorations thingee (technical term) just to put in the yard, which promptly, on cue of course, fell over. It’s still laying there. My house just isn’t up to it’s usual Christmassy decorated spirit as I’m just plain pooped out. But I had the same thought that even if I don’t go over the top, the kids are still having a great Chrismtas season. They are still young and what I do do is just great to them. Maybe next year I’ll return to my obsessive Christmas over the top all the frills season of chaos, but I’m thinking maybe not, maybe I’ll just keep reading your blog which I found a few months ago, and know that I’m a good mom even if I don’t do absolutely everything possible at all times to make my kid’s life the absolute best ever that has ever been…know what I mean?

    Merry Christmas !!!!

  5. OK. Where, where, where did you get the patterns for those adorable little knitted animals? Are you able to make it up out of your head (like my grandmother)? Or, is there a book that I can go to?

    1. Make patterns in my head? Hilarious! Both the animals are crocheted and I for sure used patterns. I got the pattern for the deer on Etsy from a seller named KawaiiGurumi for $5.00. The elephant is from a book by Ana Paula called Amigurumi World.

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