This year, honoring my need to scale back the holidays, I gave myself permission to remove all expectations (especially those that I put upon myself), sit back, relax, and enjoy what the true meaning of the Holiday Season is meant to be.
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For the past few years every Holiday Season I seem to energetically hit a brick wall. Not just the ordinary, “Oh, I’m tired” brick wall. But instead a full-on, “I don’t think I have the energy to walk up the stairs” kind of brick wall.
Partly due to slight seasonal disorder, part due to EBV, but mostly due to the “expectation” of what the Holidays should be, look like, and entail.
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That is a LOT of stress!
I love, love, love an impeccably decorated home for the Holidays. I strived for years to create a perfect picture image of what the Holidays are supposed to look like.
Currier & Ives, you know the one, perfectly snow-covered grounds with skaters dressed to the nines skating on a small pond, waving to a horse-drawn carriage as it passes. Guests being greeted into a home decked with greenery, a warm hearth, fire blazing, music filling the air along with laughter from family and friends.
I aspired for many years to reach that ideal Holiday, often resulting in illness as the stress of having that perfect Holiday took its toll.
For the past few years, like many, life took on a “life” of its own. The daily demands were speeding up to the point where it became overwhelming. I have begun to take the steps needed to slow things down a bit so that I can focus on creating more joy in life.
Simplifying the outdoor chores (aka the gardens and landscape) so that they are not so labor intensive. Minimizing and reducing the amount of “stuff” that we no longer need by giving it to those who do. Freeing up time and space for what really matters. Creating a more intentional life.
I am a sentimental being. I have the tendency to attach my feelings to items. After much self-reflection, I came to the realization that it is not the item that holds sentiment, but the memories brought forth by that item. I knew that it would be tough going through certain areas and releasing those items that I no longer needed or used.
I decided to take this year as a test run for paring back the Holiday decorations to find out exactly what would bring joy to the season and what I could let go of. I decided to set out very few items, just enough so that my home is still festive but not over-run. By doing this, I was able to see what I truly enjoyed having out to create that festive feel. More importantly, I have been able to let go of all the extras.
I knew both R and I really enjoy window lights. They help give a welcoming glow both indoors and out during the darker months, and I knew we had to place those out.
Window hangings bring me to a happy place. The rustic homemade clothespin stars, as shown above, that we made as a family several years ago were a must. The wonky crocheted mitten that I made, reminding me that there are no mistakes, only lessons.
The same with things that I can hang off doorknobs. Bells for the front door as a welcoming chime.
And this rustic fat snowman hung in my kitchen, just brings a smile.
Candles are a must. They bring light and warmth to any room. A simple holiday table topper and candles wrapped with twine added just enough Holiday cheer to this space in our family room.
As a gardener and a nurturer at heart, no celebration would be complete without plants. Placing a Poinsettia in a pot takes no time and brings a bright spot to our main living room.
Or having the returning beauty of a Christmas Cactus to enjoy year after year.
A few Holiday pillows with a humorous touch.
It literally took me all of 1/2 hour to set these choices out. They are enough to make the house feel warm and decorated for me. I am not even sure (much to the chagrin of my daughter) if we will be setting up a tree this year. I may just hang a couple of well-placed ornaments on my gorgeous lichen kissed branches and call it a day. Or maybe not.
This year we chose to not send out Christmas cards. Instead, I will reach out and call to wish a Happy Holiday.
I am not scheduling a big festive meal, instead, I may have those here on Christmas Day give a hand and make it a family affair.
I have decided this year to not add baking to the list. Baking has never been my favorite tradition and who needs the calories anyway?
I realize these choices are not for everyone and by no means is this my way of bah-humbugging out of the festivities. Instead, it’s a way for me to take a step back, and analyze what the Holiday truly means for me and my family.
A way to have the energy to be able to ring in this year’s Winter Solstice by possibly organizing a small bonfire and other activities mentioned in my post on Celebrating Winter Solstice. To be able to gather and celebrate without exhaustion.
Approaching the Holidays with intention and thoughtfulness, this year’s celebrations are sure to be filled with peace and loving memories. That to me is what is most important.
Are you minimizing and letting go of expectations this year?
Love, Light, & Laughter ~
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I love your choice in celebrating Christmas! We downsized our entire lives this year by approx 50%, and I went from 14, 31-gal storage tubs of Christmas decor to 7, and only used 5 this year (a lot of space is taken with original packaging inside). My comforts are in textiles and pretty tables, so I am trying to keep it manageable by rotating and continuously purging. However, I am very sentimental, with my ornaments especially (and I didn’t use all of what I kept). I love seeing bloggers who choose simplicity. Yours was a great feature on Suzanne’s blog this weekend. Happy Holidays.
Thank you for reading, Rita! I find the older I become, the more I want “simple” 🙂
We haven’t put a tree up since we left Colorado back in 2004. We have no kids by choice (I have a several chronic diseases, some that would be inherited by any off spring from my body) so we adopt cats! Maybe a dog in the future, who knows? Christmas music plays in our home at any and all times. Have a Merry Christmas for you and your family!
Thank you for sharing. It is wonderful to hear so many honor their needs as well. Happy Holidays!
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I think one of the hardest things is to give ourselves permission to do less, and to rest when we need to. I applaud your approach to Christmas – setting out the decorations you truly enjoy, and spending more time in the moment.
You mentioned EBV. Having CSF and fibromyalgia myself, I get it.
I’m scheduled for minor outpatient surgery on Monday the 23rd so we are definitely scaling back this year. My husband and I have been working so hard for the whole year to shed some much needed pounds so while we sill do some baking (since my boys LOVE to bake and have some treats that they just feel they can’t go without) we are cutting waaay back on that as well.
No better time to step back and nurture yourself! Best to you for your surgery procedure! Thanks so much for reading, Joanne!
It’s great to hear that I’m not the only one who has opted for a simpler holiday season. I haven’t put up any decorations yet…although hubby is planning to pull the box out soon. But a real tree and a string of lights around the front door will plenty. 🙂
Enjoy your holiday!
You are so wise to identify what brings you the most joy and then to DO that and only that!
Hi Suzan. It’s nice to read that others are feeling the same way. I’m currently in the, take care of me mode, which as a mother and working woman we put aside for so long. My body was demanding it. I even went as far as to tell my sister, whom I love , that I was not having guests this year for Christmas and that we were tuckered out from all the traveling and such this year. It was not easy and I had to actually speak to a life coach friend of mind to decide whether to lie or tell the truth. It’s a funny thing to make changes for our own health and being authentic. We went from a real tree being lugged up and down the stairs, pine needles everywhere and adding lights, to a fake prelit tree, all in the name of Selfcare!! I spray the house with homemade pine spray. I’m rockin the new changes. Enjoy your better health and Merry Christmas. Love the homemade snowflakes.
So glad to hear that you too are honoring yourself and listening to your needs. I’m finding that taking that “step back” has brought so much more joy to the holiday season. Thank you for your thoughts and sharing them! Happy Holidays!
Love it, Suz. Great points.
We are tending towards simplifying, too. It’s time.
I am sharing your post.
Merry Christmas to you and family.
Many Thanks, Corine! So glad you are in the process of simplifying too! So many small moments to stop and acknowledge that is often overlooked when we are too busy.