Just home from a relaxing Thanksgiving at my sister’s, I was slow to get into the bustle of the season this year. By November 30th the kids were asking when we’d get our tree, when my husband would put the lights up, and when we’d get our one to one Christmas shopping done. I started to feel a little overwhelmed, stressed by multiple obligations, long lines, and keeping up with everyone else.
I felt the need to nest. I spent the whole day in the garage sorting through hand-me-downs and rearranging a decade of family living; camping gear, soccer thermoses and toys my kids lost interest in long ago.
Doing this actually made me feel relaxed.
I had the garage door open while I worked and the kids played on the front lawn. I watched them while I thought of my extended family and friends and the memories made as I sorted through photos, snow gear and even a stack of dusty baby shower invitations I’d made to celebrate my nephew’s impending arrival 11 years ago.
This is what I want the holiday season to mean to me, I thought. This is what makes it “the most wonderful time of the year.”
At an Advent talk at our church a few years ago, one presenter explained that she actually lives slower during Advent, or the 4 weeks preceding Christmas. She explained to our incredulity how she declines many invites to holiday parties, for instance. We all have our areas of stress at Christmas and that was hers. She reminded me that the Christmas season should be a time of waiting, patience and reflection just as “advent” literally means “arrival.”
When I was heavily pregnant with my second son 8 years ago at this time I nested as most mothers do. Since I was 9 months pregnant on Christmas, though, I was forced to not do some of the regular things I would normally have done. I rested and prepared for his arrival instead. I couldn’t tell you today what I didn’t do on the obligation list that year but I do remember it was a peaceful Christmas.
One of the things I did to prepare for Christmas season while keeping it meaningful this year was to decorate the house 2 things at a time, which is one of my particular areas of stress at Christmas. The stockings and festive dishtowels came out one day; the front door wreath and stair garland the next. The rest would just have to wait. I’d much rather snuggle up with the kids on the couch to read a book or bake cookies with them instead.
I would love to hear what parts of Christmas make you stressed and what you do to stay calm. What tips can you share?
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