Overcoming Holiday Overwhelm: Editing Your Holidays – Five Ways in Five Days

It’s the Monday after Thanksgiving and the holiday rush is ON!  Thanksgiving falling earlier on the calendar has given us more time to prepare for the holidays this year and more opportunity to squeeze in more this holiday season, or maybe not…

Allow me to backtrack – a little over a week ago I put up our outside lights because it was a warm, sunny November day, which are not too common on the North Coast.   I found myself so filled with the holiday spirit,  I contemplated decorating the inside of the house, too.  Now for some folks, November 17 might not be too early to start holiday decorating, but at my house we have never decorated that early.

Thank goodness I paused and took a few minutes to process what I was considering before hauling plastic bins up from the basement.  The question I asked myself to make this decision was “How much more or less would I appreciate the holiday season if I decorated on November 17?”  I concluded if I decorated that early, I might end up tired of looking at the decorations and actually end up appreciating the holidays less.  Hence, I would wait a few weeks.  This isn’t the right decision for everyone, but it was the right decision for me.   It also got me thinking about other areas where the holidays might be reduced instead of expanded and that’s what led to this blog series on Editing Your Holidays.

Therefore, over the next five days we’ll talk about editing traditions, decorations, meals, gift giving and finally activities.  So let’s get started…

Editing Traditions:  Just because your family has a plethora of holiday traditions, doesn’t mean all of them have to be rolled out every year.

Growing up, my family had lots of traditions, like opening an advent calendar and making cookies.  I especially recall Christmas Eve traditions – going to church, opening one present each and completing a 500 piece holiday themed puzzle.  My husband’s family had their own traditions that were very different from those of my family.  While we were dating, my husband willingly participated in my family’s traditions, but after we married he shared with me that he really didn’t enjoy doing the holiday puzzle or going to Christmas Eve services, as his family hadn’t done those things. In time, we each acknowledged the holidays were about more than those traditions we each grew up with.  Instead the holidays would give our family an opportunity to create our own traditions.  Ones that brought us all at least some degree of joy.  As a result we’ve grown comfortable with mixing up our holiday traditions, to the point where some people would question whether we have any traditions at all.

There is actually relief knowing that a tradition is pulled out now only if it feels right.  Some years we go to a Christmas Eve service, while some years we spend Christmas Eve with family elsewhere. Some years I bake, some years I don’t.  For a number of years we hosted a New Year’s Eve party for families we knew that was becoming a tradition of sorts, but then last year we totally mixed things up and went to the beach in Florida for Christmas through New Years.  It was a great trip, but we missed connecting with family and friends at home.  This is how we’ve determined which traditions are worth coming back to – those that are truly missed. But, in order to figure out what you’ll miss, you need to let go for at least a year and see what happens.

The advent calendar tradition we gave up a number of years ago (pictured above) is one I plan on resurrecting later this week and I’m guessing it might actually be a pleasant surprise for teenage boys, who were “too old” for it a couple of years back. Whatever happens, it will be a fun experiment.

What holiday traditions might you be willing to edit this year and what might editing some of those traditions make space for in your holiday season?

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