There are some years when I have been on top of it all for the holidays: Cookies baked, gifts bought and wrapped before Black Friday, Christmas cards meticulously designed and addressed, fresh Christmas tree decked to the nines, teacher gifts handmade and ready for delivery, and matching homemade jammies created for the kids to boot.
Other years can just kick you in the butt. You’ve got nothing to show halfway through December, and you’re dreading the inevitable “what do the kids want for Christmas?” question from other family members because you don’t even know what you’re going to get them yourself. Or you angst nightly until midnight on the computer researching the perfect gift that will give all year and send just the right message to your kids/family/best friend/in-laws/teachers/parents.
Life is crazy enough as a single mama, and there’s no reason to make it harder, so this year I am hanging up the holiday hustle. I’m going to do only the things that truly bring me joy. Picking up a fresh tree that will make my house smell heavenly? Takes some effort, but brings me joy, and I can recruit a friend to help make that happen. Baking 12 dozen cookies to pass out to all our friends, neighbors, and teachers? Not so much. Driving across town to get tickets to wait in a 30-minute line later that evening for real-life Santa photos on a school night? Heck, no. And my single mama budget will demand frugal spending when it comes to the kids’ gifts. But instead of feeling guilty, I’m giving myself permission to feel relieved in keeping things simple. We’ll veg out over holiday movies, drive through the neighborhood to see the lights, and write each other some thoughtful Christmas love notes instead of stressing over handmade gifts. We’ll go to church, visit with friends, drink hot cocoa, and cuddle up by the tree—even if the sea of gifts is a little less deep this time around. We’ll look through photos of Christmases past and make wishes for the ones to come. And if any cookie-baking happens, we’re going to eat every darn one of them ourselves.
Some of the best holiday memories we’ve had—whether I was on top of the hustle or not—were all about sharing experiences together. So I’m going to focus on adding to our memories instead of our stuff. Just like setting an intention in meditation or yoga, I’m setting an intention to keep my sanity and show myself some compassion this holiday season. And when I find myself in a harried, “let’s do all the things” spin, I’ll step back, take a deep breath, and hug my kids close.
They want me to be happy just as much as I want them to be. And being harried through the holidays ain’t gonna get me there. This year will be our just-enough, good-enough Christmas, during which we get to actually slow down and treasure the season. I’m sure I’ll get distracted by a good deal or two, but I’ll remember my holiday mantra of keeping it sane and simple, and I’ll hang up that holiday hustle for a snuggle or two under the tree instead.