During this crazy, months-long lead up to Christmas, people lose their minds.
I was at Lowe’s buying indoor plants, and a woman in front of me in line whipped around to return something out of her Christmas-filled cart. She almost ran me over and said with much snark to me, “Really?” because I was in her way. I responded confused and said this is where the line is. Then she told me I had given her some look when she turned around. (Uh, it was probably a look of crap, this woman is about to mow me over!)
But oh man does this woman need some major love and compassion.
I know her ire had nothing to do with me. (Read “The Four Agreements.”) She was angry because she has major expectations on herself. She’s told herself she has to to make Christmas magical, the best ever, the most special, insert your story here. And she’s killing herself to do it.
I am here to tell you that you don’t have to do anything. The holiday “have to’s” are a story you made up in your head. And if you want to have a loving, meaningful holiday, it’s time to let go of those expectations.
You don’t have to buy a present for your 100-year-old aunt who has everything. You don’t have to buy your children 100 presents. Their little souls do not want them any way. (And then you will have to spend more money to hire me in a few months to clean out your playroom because they don’t play with all the toys.)
You don’t have to make your home look like a page out of “Southern Living.” Do you know how many assistants made that “Southern Living” spread look that way? You don’t know that many assistants, so why are you telling yourself that you can do it alone?
Here’s how I know you don’t have to do any of this. I am Jewish. My family does not celebrate Christmas. My children don’t have Santa. We don’t get a tree. We don’t decorate. (Remember, this is a Christian holiday. There are millions of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists who don’t celebrate it.) And guess what? We are normal. My children are happy. They are especially happy because they have few toys, no TV and no video games. They spend most of their free time outside on their bikes.
And before you tell me, “Well, you have Chanukah,” please know Chanukah is not a big holiday for us. It’s not even top 10 most important. It just happens to fall around Christmas time, so people assume it’s like Christmas. It’s not. We just light candles for eight nights. That’s it. We don’t take time off work. The presents did not start happening until stores and corporations figured out they could manipulate Jewish families just as much as Christian families around this time of year. Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Passover are way more important holidays for us. And this concludes my Judaism 101 lesson.
I am not saying give up Christmas and become Jewish. (It’s actually against our religion to proselytize, but that is for Judaism 201.) I am saying you can scale it way back, and everyone will be fine. Shift the expectations. You can do this because there is no law that says you must turn into Martha Stewart this time of year. (Again, she has 8 million assistants.) Your children won’t care. They just want to spend time with you, and they would love it even more if you weren’t stressed out.
In addition to waking up to having too high of holiday expectations, I want you to be conscious of the pressure to buy, buy, buy. That pressure is created by stores and corporations that want your money, and you are falling prey to it. There is a reason Santas are at the malls. They want you to associate Christmas with shopping.
Just stop. Again, there is no law that says you have to buy everyone a present. This a story the corporations have told you. You can change it. Tell your family you love them, but you are not going into debt for them. Do a Secret Santa where everyone pulls a name out of the hat and buys for that ONE person.
Plus, as the organizer, I am here to tell you no one wants the gifts you give them.
I know this because I clean out those gifts from your cousin’s, sister’s, brother’s, uncle’s house. She hates the piece of art you gave her. (Never ever give someone art. That is so personal.) Here is a great article about why not to buy gifts for adults.
You can change everything this year. Change the expectations. Change the stories you have told yourself. Don’t be a victim.
You have the power to choose how this holiday goes.