It’s Hump-Day for the Twelve Days of Stress Less Christmas and today’s tip is a real game-changer. Re-think your holiday traditions. Find that thing that takes more work than it derives joy. Find that thing that if you eventually eliminated from your Holiday To Do List, no one would have a less joyous holiday.
Make up your own version of The 12 Pains of Christmas. You know – that song about the 12 things that are just awful at Christmas (rigging up the lights, facing my in-laws, hangovers, five months of bills). Take five minutes and write up your own list.
What’s on your list?
I’ll tell you a couple of things that were on mine that I just don’t do anymore.
#1 – Hosting a big holiday open house. We did that one when we were newly engaged. We invited friends, family, colleagues – all to our medium-sized apartment outside of Boston. And then I found out I had to go to London for work for 10 days leading right up to the party. We pulled it off, but I ended up getting sick (a sure sign of stress) and I was ill for Christmas too. I realized then that hosting large parties during the holidays was not a tradition I wanted to start. Instead now, we’ll host a small group of friends usually after a performance – and there are no big expectations. Everyone still has a great time.
#2 – Baking lots of Christmas cookies. I am a recovered Christmas Cookie Queen. I used to bake about 15 different types of Christmas cookies every year. I would start around Dec 17th and just bake like I was feeding the entire town. I would give cookies to everyone (relatives, neighbors, complete strangers). Apparently, I wasn’t the only Christmas Cookie Queen around, because we all smartened up and started going to cookie swaps instead. It’s so much easier to bake a few batches of one kind of cookie and bring them to a swap – and come home with a tray of all different kinds of cookies.
#3 - Really beautiful photo cards. Remember the gorgeous holiday photo cards with real photos and real ribbons? Yeah, I did that. I was one of the last holdouts for moving to a card from a digital photo (a la Shutterfly, Tiny Prints or Minted). I’ve moved over to the dark side and now life is so much easier. I’m pretty sure that the iGeneration (those born in the mid-1990’s – early 2000’s) are going to do absolutely none of this paper card thing. I still love sending out cards – and for those that I’m not connected with digitally - it’s a way to connect at least once a year.
When deciding to continue or cease & desist one of your own Twelve Pains of Christmas, weigh the cost and the benefits of each. Ask yourself, “Will the holiday be less joyous if I don’t do this? Will my family/friends really miss it?” If it’s a tradition you want to continue, is there a way to make it easier on yourself? Is there a piece you can out-source or something you can ask for help with?
Just as we often think of ourselves as Chief Maker of Magic at this time of year, we also give ourselves the role of Head Tradition Keeper. It’s a huge job. Just remember that the best CEO’s delegate.