It's here! The holiday "rush" has begun. In a couple of weeks, we will celebrate Thanksgiving, then Christmas, and before we know it, it'll be 2022!
This year, like every other year, I picture the "perfect" family holiday. I imagine big smiles, lots of laughter, everyone getting along, helping around the house, and being excited about being together. My house is clean and is beautifully decorated, and I can smell the apples and cinnamon, the baked cookies, see the fireplace glowing—it's perfect!
And then… it all comes to a SCREECHING HALT!
The stuff I envision only happens in movies. In reality, my kids complain; they get grumpy and have a hard time helping me get things ready.
Vicky and I reminisced about our "imperfect" holidays, doing everything ourselves, trying to keep everybody happy, and being "exhausted" before the "party began. Sometimes we were still in the kitchen, wearing our PJs when the doorbell rang, and our guests arrived, forcing us to "vanish" as we screamed at someone to "get the door!"
We can laugh now, but in the moment, it was no JOKE!
We've had many holiday seasons deteriorate into tears, frustration, and conflict because the STRESS was too much. For our kids and us.
A "Happy Holiday" begins with simplifying our plans, reducing our expectations, and keeping it real. By keeping it real, we mean setting ourselves and our kids up for success—no super lofty goals, just things we can ACTUALLY DO.
Want to ditch the stress this holiday season?
Consider these three questions…
What's ONE thing I really WANT to do this Holiday Season?
Is there something that you set out to do each year and then don't do it? Us too!
Vicky wants to make "mince pies" with her kids, and I want to look through old photos with my boys. Everything else—the meal, the decor, the ambiance, is icing on the cake.
What's the ONE thing that would make you happy and feel like the Holidays to you? It can be as simple as staying in your PJ's all day or watching YOUR FAVORITE holiday movie. It could be that you "order out" your holiday meal instead of slaving in the kitchen for hours. Or maybe, you ask your kiddos for a hug?
We all know that the holidays are NOT about impressing the neighbors, our relatives, or co-workers. They are NOT about having the best food or the best gifts. They are about building memories and connecting as a family.
So, this year, keep it simple; instead of focusing on all the things we "have to" do, think about the ONE thing we want to do and make it happen.
What's ONE thing I can LET GO OF?
Over the years, it has become easier to look for small moments to connect as a family instead of worrying about how the table is set, what our kids wear to dinner, or fussing over making a homemade pie. Most people don't notice the things we've consciously let go of and are happy to be with us.
With planning, intention, and practice, even the grumpy moods, eye-rolling, or dirty dishes won't ruffle your feathers.
Decide to let go of things that create stress and focus on the things that add value to you and your family.
What matters is the energy, openness, and presence we can offer our family and friends.
What ONE thing will you let go of this year?
What's ONE way I can get SUPPORT?
Do you find yourself prepping, cooking, and cleaning all by yourself? Do you later feel resentful because no one helped? How many times have you thought to yourself, "Surely, if they SEE everything I'm doing, they will offer to help!" For many years, I expected others to "know" what I needed and offer to help; and yet no one did. I felt disappointed, frustrated, and so alone.
I realized how difficult it was for me to ASK for help. When it finally dawned on me that no one was reading my mind, I spoke up. I started "delegating" small jobs to my kids, my hubby, and my guests. It was amazing how much more enjoyable our time together became. I felt less stressed, no one had "too much" to do, and as a bonus, I felt closer to those who lent a helping hand (it's my love language).
Where could you ASK for help this holiday season? In what ways can you enlist your friends and family to support you?
This year, give yourself PERMISSION to reduce your expectations, simplify your vision, and keep it REAL!
Let's ditch the stress this holiday season and have some fun!
Coco and Vicky