When I think of Christmas I think of so many wonderful memories but I also think of a time with a great deal of stress. As the years go by it seems as if there are more and more traditions to keep up with and that we could never think of breaking. This was also the case in my family. We had traditions for everything from decorations, to countless cookies we made, to lovely gifts each wrapped with a perfectly tied ribbon by my mom, to extravagant dinners that were cooked, to a yard full of lights.
I distinctly remember a pivotal moment a couple of years ago. It was a day or two after Thanksgiving and my parents and I were beginning to discuss the preparations that would need to take place for the Holidays. It was as if I could see a sense of dread wash over my mom’s face thinking about everything that was soon to be on her to-do list. My dad clearly picked up on this too and said: “well what if we cut back this year?” Of course, this was initially met with apprehension. How could we even consider breaking some of our traditions!? But as we talked it through we all began to see how much better the holiday season would be if we all had to do a little less.
We didn’t cut out anything that was especially meaningful to any of us, in fact, it was more about paring things down. Now we were only going to put lights on one tree outside, and we only needed to make two types of cookies and it was ok if we didn’t get to decorating the bathroom.
The biggest change came last year when my mom made the shocking announcement that she wasn’t going to put a hand-tied ribbon on every package. She had finally decided that it just took too much time and that doing it was no longer bringing her joy like it used to. And guess what? It didn’t make Christmas any less enjoyable or our gifts any less wonderful to receive.
I encourage you to think about your own life and what traditions or details are now feeling like work instead of creating joy. Will Christmas really feel any different if you don’t make that third pie? Will anyone even notice if you don’t spend an extra two hours perfectly tying a bow on each package? What can you eliminate from your to-do list to make the holiday season just a little bit more enjoyable?
If the holidays are a time that feels especially difficult for you, and in the New Year you’d like to make some changes, please reach out to us at 615-591-5262.
Written by Refuge Center intern Michelle Nagy