Try This at Christmas: 3 Ways to Change Your Mind About the Holiday

Mark and Angel are doing the holidays differently this year.

For starters, they are only buying gifts if Mark is able to pick up the extra freelance jobs and Angel finds extra catering work. They are optimistic about getting gifts as they both have been hustling the past few months. However, they are committed to financial recovery and health this year so they are ready to stop extra spending if necessary.

October family activities are a little different this year, high on creativity and low on cost. Mark and Angel take their growing family of three little boys on Day trips to Pumpkin patches and the ocean. For food, it’s trips to Taco Bell on the beach and free pumpkin mazes- not expensive fish restaurants.

Angel is spending a lot of time cleaning and organizing their home now. With a big move this past year, there is a lot to go through and she doesn’t want to spend December in cleaning mode.

“I want to clean now so I can enjoy our home more later,” Angel says.

By later, I know she means the holidays. It might be October now, but Mark and Angel are keeping their eye on the upcoming holiday season, preparing to celebrate in a rather counter-cultural way: low on money, high on hospitality and quality (and quantity) time with friends and family.

For the modern girl who is on the run this season, here is some news she may enjoy hearing: the holidays don’t have to run her down.

In fact, the time between Thanksgiving and New Years could turn into a season of rejuvenation and celebration. Rejuvenate during the Christmas season? It almost sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t? After all, this is the time of year that starts out with a bang on Black Friday (it really starts in the grocery stores during Thanksgiving week, and doesn’t end until after New Year’s Day- when the gift cards are redeemed, the decorations taken down and the resolutions put on the shelf (resolutions are mostly a nostalgic ritual anyways, right?)

Some people like the go-go-go sprint of the season. If so, read no further. Keep on keeping on. (I’ll send you a Stress Relief Kit in January).

If you have other ideas about how the season might be spent, you are in the right place at the right time.

Focus on your priorities by differentiating what are the big things and what are the little things that will get your finite time, resources and energy this season.
We are constantly at the beck and call of the urgent. Have you noticed that whatever urgent thing comes up turns into a mini-crisis that needs our attention? But other people’s drama doesn’t need to be your emergency. This goes for the family member who is having another meltdown and the teacher who has committed to the impossible for the Christmas presentation. Mismatched handmade costumes will probably be just fine- and cuter- than expensive catalog ordered costumes. Your friend should probably think about professional counseling for the reoccurring, cyclical crisis that keeps coming.

Mark and Angel are prioritizing staying financially healthy this season. They are also prioritizing hospitality- making their home ready so they can welcome friends and family throughout the season. Angel is wise- she knows she can save herself a lot of stress later if she focuses on organization and eliminating unwanted and unneeded stuff right now.

Decide what is important to you this season: being available to a friend going through cancer treatments, helping your 2nd grader’s teacher get ready for the Christmas play, making handmade scarves for your nieces and nephews, volunteering at the Food Bank, sticking to a budget, making the perfect fudge, hosting friends and family in your home throughout the month.

Decide on what will constitute the major and minor events of the season. Decide to let minor events go.
Welcoming people into your home and sharing a meal or snacks with them over a good conversation or a movie is a great, inexpensive, relationship-building way to connect during the holidays.

We often do not remember the gifts we give and spend our money on but we remember special moments of the season shared with family, friends, neighbors and even strangers.

Remember the reason for the season- a time to reflect and celebrate.
Christmas started as a way for people of the Christian faith to celebrate the birth of Jesus, who they believe to be the Savior of the world. It was a time of rejoicing and good food, of getting together with family and friends. As the centuries continued, more traditions were added. The Germans gave us the tradition of the Christmas tree, gifts were given as a symbol of the Wise Men’s gift to the baby Jesus. People of past generations and centuries would be shocked to see the mad rush of emptying our bank accounts and adding to commercialism that marks our celebrations today.

What does the season mean to you? What motivates you to give gifts. Don’t let your answer be: this is what I’ve always done. Dig a little deeper and feel what drives you.

If you don’t like what is driving the mad rush behind the season, is it possible to pivot your stance and change directions? I’m not talking about radicalism, just a shift in thinking, celebrating, spending, and giving. Make it about special experiences and moments that really do take your breath away. Slow down and count the blessings in your life- strong legs to walk through the cold weather, the beauty of frost on the ground and a fresh wreath on the door.

The Christmas season was supposed to increase our joy and thanksgiving, not deplete us of all energy, sanity and money. What small things might you do differently to have a merry Christmas instead of a mad-dash Christmas this year?

A Christmas-holic who loves to help women create a meaningful holiday season no matter what life brings, Melissa AuClair is an author and speaker whose life goal is to help women launch their creative lives, have fun and create a profitable business! She blogs at and has two books being released in 2012. The first book is “Kitchen Christmas: How the Modern Girl Can Have a Merry Christmas, One Batch of Cookies at a Time,” to be released on November 21, 2012.

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