I LOVE Christmas. Absolutely adore it. My mom hates all holidays though, and so many Christmases of my childhood were marred by her getting stressed out about stupid things, trying to make everyone happy (and instead making no one happy), fighting with her mom, etc. When I grew up and had kids of my own I was surprised to find that Christmas was becomming stressful for me. So I fixed that
I started simplifying a few years ago and have been slowly doing more every year.
The first thing I did, after the birth of my first (7 now) was to complain and whine til my family agreed to institute a gift lottery. The year she was born we had to buy 18 gifts for my side of the family including a few people we only had contact with once a year on Christmas (and that was just my side - then there was his side and us). So I pushed for a lottery and now we only buy 3 for my side (and now my mom remembers it as her idea,
whatever makes her happy
A few years ago (after the birth of my second who is now 3) I decided we would not be doing more than one visit a day during the Christmas season. Something had to give. Christmas Eve we do my side of the family and Christmas Day we do his. We were trying to also squeeze in my Grandma on Christmas Day, after our family morning but before the in-laws. Everyone thinks this isn't a big deal since everyone is close, but it's still the stress of getting the kids to leave the house and their new toys, getting them in and out of the car, leaving that place, in and out of the car again, on to a new place, and just going here there and everywhere, yk? I put my foot down and said we'd visit Grandma on another day, not the 25th. My mother (the one who tries to please everyone and subsequently stresses herself out) thought I was being mean but I've stood my ground and it's really cut down on the stress for us.
Then last year I didn't send out Christmas cards because I was just too busy. Turns out I liked it that way. I still feel a little guilty about it because, to be honest, I *really* enjoy getting Christmas cards from other people so I *should* reciprocate but . . . . I just decided the other day that I won't send any out this year either and I felt such a wave of relief when I made the decision. It just drove home that it was the right decision for me. At least right now.
The other thing is wrapping gifts. My mom always put it off til the last minute, often causing us to be late to Christmas Eve as she wrapped hastily, swearing and yelling as she did it. Instead, I wrap things as I buy them. I just wrapped a whole bunch today, including most of the kid's presents (they were at my mom's for the day). If we have any last minute wrapping it will be a gift or two, not the whole thing.
The tradition we started that I most like is to take walks looking at lights around the neighborhood. Really low key
We do it for weeks, but make an effort to do it the evening of the 25th.
I feel like I'm reclaiming Christmas bit by bit
We had the first grandkids on either side so for awhile there was that feeling of having to make everyone happy and "do it all". I saw how well that worked for my mom
: (sarcasm alert!) so I sat up and took notice when I saw I was falling into the same trap with my family. So yeah, I get called cold hearted sometimes, but they can kiss my
I wasn't put on this earth to martyr myself to everyone else's wishes