My Foolproof Method For Blissfully Surviving The Holiday Chaos
The days from the fourth Thursday of November until the completion of the first 24 hours of the new year are my favorite, with their excitement, energy, and beautiful, chaotic madness. Yes, even the chaos is beautiful, complete with delicious food and beautiful twinkling lights. Surviving the holidays takes a little planning, some decision-making skills, and practice in the art of mindfulness. The following method is my foolproof survival guide to a blissful holiday season.
Choose Your Favorite Thing
It is a fact one person can not do everything pictured on a holiday card. Fact-check me if you like, but there are only 24 hours in a day, and we all need to sleep, eat, work, and carry on our daily lives in addition to the holiday chaos. To survive in a blissful state, full of holiday cheer, choose your favorite things and let go of the rest. The choice may be to ditch the baking and spend more time decorating. It may look like baking up a storm, but ordering dinner catered. My favorite option is to touch on all the categories but choose my favorite thing in each. I bake cookies, but I choose 2-3 kinds, not the dozen staring at me in my recipe box. Remember, you are not a machine, do the things that make you happy, and the rest can fall off the truck somewhere else.
Write a List and Check it Twice
For example, my life is full of things I need to accomplish now and for the holidays. It can be a tad bit overwhelming, to say the least. My solution is the magic of list writing. Gift buying – write it down! Decorating – devise a plan. Baking – make a list of items to prepare and then a grocery list to go with it. Without my holiday lists, I would be lost, crying in the corner, wondering if all my children have gifts under the tree. Do not force your brain to work on overdrive. Make a list you can check and recheck.
Tradition Can Be Your Best Friend
Practice makes perfect. A tradition is a form of practice. Therefore the routine of following the same traditions every year makes them second nature over time. What may take three hours to complete year one will take half that time by year five. My holidays as a child were full of traditions. My mom and aunts kept menus, locations, and times all the same from year to year. As years pass, making things happen becomes simpler because it has been practiced to the point of perfection. As a child, it was comforting to know what to expect. It kept the excitement of the holidays from morphing into anxiety. Tradition is a two-for-one, easy for the preparer and comforting for the attendees. Win. Win.
Present Over Perfect
The most important step in my foolproof method for a blissful holiday is to focus on being present over being perfect. The decorations, gifts, food, and celebration are all immensely important to me. I want to make the holidays magical for my children, my husband, my family. The truth is, my family will be happier with a present, calm Dawn over a tired, stressed, and tense Dawn. The holiday season is about celebration, joy, happiness, gratefulness, thankfulness; the list goes on and on. None of these emotions require perfectly wrapped presents, a magical Christmas castle, or a 27-course meal. Love your family well, and the rest is good enough, however it turns out.
Ready, Set, Enjoy!
As we continue our journey through the holiday season, take time to enjoy the process and the fanfare. Be mindful of the little things that bring you joy over the season. I love white Christmas lights and giggling, smiling kiddos, good food, and close family and friends. Focusing my attention on the things I love makes the chaos and the lists seem secondary and less stressful. From my family to yours – Happy Holidays and a Blessed and Happy New Year.