Why you can (...maybe should?) say NO MORE to the holiday madness

Lindsay Tennant

I will not be burned out during the holiday season, and you don’t have to be either. What’s with this time of year that makes people go completely crazy? I grew up with a mother who LOVED Christmas. She would turn our house into a Winter Wonderland and spend hours making homemade gifts for people. She would also spend thousands of dollars, going into debt to buy anyone and everyone a present. She would have presents for the mailman, our teachers, the random neighbour that could possibly stop by unannounced. Christmas was just this high pressured, manic (albeit magical) time at my house growing up until one year—eleven days before Christmas—she died.

Cue 21-year-old me feeling the immense pressure to keep up the holiday magic, for years afterwards. I would work extra shifts to make extra money to buy anyone and everyone presents, just like my mom did. Until one year, after I moved to the UK and had to spend all my money on a flight home, I decided to call it quits. I told everyone that my present was going to be my presence. And lo and behold, no one minded one bit.

So now I look back on all of those years of my life with a sense of bewilderment. Why did I spend all of my time working more shifts and shopping when I should have been spending time with friends and family actually enjoying the season? I am so grateful I finally put a stop to the madness!

You can too. You can make a choice to just say “no” to falling into the trap of spending time and money buying gifts that no one actually truly needs. You can choose to be mindful and be in the moment with your family. Now that I am a mom, I have made sure to make Christmas as low key as I possibly can, so that I don’t burn out, and so that I don’t raise my kids’ expectations. We still do lots of fun things—like go into London to see the Christmas Lights on a double decker bus tour—and we decorate the tree and have a few presents to open on Christmas morning. We watch Christmas films together, and go out for walks in our village, and celebrate the Winter Solstice. I try my best to relax and enjoy it with them, instead of manically running around shopping or spending every free minute making gifts like my poor mom did.

Make yourself a priority this season: understand that you are a human and that at the end of it all, it’s just another day. Do the kids really need the latest and greatest of everything, or do they need a happy parent  to cuddle up to for a movie? Do the kids really need 24 individually wrapped Christmas stories to wake up to every morning, or will the $1 advent calendar be just as exciting for them? Do you really need to buy everyone you know some sort of present that they will probably just re-gift, or is it okay to put a stop to the gift giving madness and be the one who says “no?” It’s liberating when you just step back and take the stress out of the season. It’s a magical time of year—so make the time to actually enjoy the magic.