The holidays are just around the corner. And for every Christmas carol playing on the radio, I hear someone complaining about crowds at the mall and stressing over finding the perfect gift.
Don’t let this time of year wreak havoc on your serenity. Here are three ways to simplify—and really enjoy—the holidays.
Don’t aim for the Norman Rockwell version of the holidays.
You know what I mean—everyone on their best behavior, looking and acting as if they stepped out of a Hallmark movie. Perfect decorations, perfect presents, perfect conversations and connection. I’ve yet to meet a family that can live up to the stress of that expectation (and not be gritting teeth and rolling eyes by the time January 1st rolls around). Reject perfection. In fact, reject even the expectation of perfection. Allow the real you to show up for the holidays, with all the wonderful imperfection of your sometimes messy life. And give your family and friends the gift of grace to also show up as their perfectly imperfect selves. Let go of the myth of the perfect holiday and you’ll still find It’s a Wonderful Life.
Don’t overdo it.
For many of us, the holidays are such a trigger for overeating, overdrinking, overspending, and overcommitting. Which means we’re stuffed, hung over, in debt, and exhausted by the time the new year rolls in. But overindulgence doesn’t have to be a given. What if you were to give yourself a different kind of gift this holiday season? The gift of moderation. The gift of saying “no”. The gift of not having to dig out of a hole come January. By all means, enjoy the egg nog and carry on the tradition of watching White Christmas in the wee hours with your sisters. But be intentional about how you want to greet the coming year. And then eat, drink, spend, and commit accordingly.
Overspending is as certain a part of the holiday season as overeating. But pushing away from both the table and the cash register at least a little bit sooner can make the post-holiday hangover hurt a little bit less. —Jeffrey Kluger
It’s not about giving (or receiving) the perfect present.
So much of the lead-up to the holidays is centered around consumerism. Christmas is on display in stores before the kids have even gone trick or treating for Halloween. Every billboard, commercial, and storefront is designed to make us think the meaning and joy of the season is transactional. But here’s the thing: It’s not about the presents. It’s about being present. Sure, giving is fun and getting is cool. But more than the stuff of the holidays, you’ll remember and treasure the experiences. So write the cards and wrap the presents. But also truly savor a conversation with your girlfriend over hot cocoa. Listen with delight as Uncle Harry tells that story one more time. Snuggle with your kids as you watch the Grinch try to steal Christmas. The best present you can give those around you is to be present—mind, body, and soul.
What will you simplify this holiday season so you can truly be of good cheer?