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It is even more important to control our controllables around the holidays, because there are too many things that can overwhelm us. (editor’s note: can you ever just be “whelmed.”) It seems that everywhere you look there are more and more ideas for how to “best” spend the holidays and what traditions are a must. There are crafts to make, events to attend, and activities to do. I have a shocking discovery for you – you don’t have to do it all. In fact you shouldn’t do it all. Learn to say no.
I fall victim to overdoing the holidays just as much as the next person; however, I’ve gotten better. There are a lot of things that we don’t do – some may be surprising to you. We choose to do the things that are important to us.
Let me be clear that I do not judge (okay, I do judge, just not on these particular things) the people who do these things, because we all have to pick and choose what is right for ourselves and our families. Just be sure you are choosing things for the right reasons.
What I don’t do – the Christmas edition
- An Advent Calendar. By this I mean those calendars where there is an activity that the family does each day during advent. Brian and the girls do have those chocolate countdown calendars. Each morning they look for the corresponding number and then enjoy a small piece of chocolate.
- Elf on the shelf. This is hotly debated in mommy circles, but it never crossed our mind to do it when Cassidy was little and now that she’s older and asks for one, we just say no. This is completely a selfish decision. Brian and I do not need one more thing we have to remember every day. It would be my luck to forget to move him one day and then ruin the whole thing. So you will not find an elf on the shelf in our house. I think the idea is cute and I’ve heard the story of the women who created it – it was their family tradition that has since made them A LOT of money.
- Go caroling. Really I think this one is just kind to anyone who would have to hear my voice. I only subject those sitting in front of me in church to that sound, (editor’s note: and my family) and that’s only because once upon a time a priest said that if God gave me that voice he must have intended to hear it. Luckily, Cassidy has taken over singing much louder, which drowns me out and everyone love the sound of a child’s singing voice.
- See Santa. Okay, so sometimes we take the girls to see Santa, but we haven’t every year, and I don’t even feel bad about it. We try to make it work, but sometimes with our schedules it hasn’t worked and no one has complained. Side note: the year we saw Santa downtown Naperville because it was the day of Brian’s police academy graduation was the best. That was the real Santa – just saying totally worth the wait. Oh and the Santa at Macy’s downtown Chicago is pretty amazing too.
Anytime I mention the word tradition, Brian rolls his eyes and says the first time you do it, it can’t be a tradition. Yes, he’s right, but I do so love traditions and I want my children to have them because I loved mine growing up. I guess only time will tell which ones stick. However, there are many things we do during the holidays and here’s that list.
Holiday traditions we do partake in:
- Decorate a Christmas tree. It’s not an elaborate affair at our house. We enjoy some Christmas music and decorate the tree together. Growing up we always had chili and wassail (a non-alcoholic drink that honestly thinking back I don’t even like the taste of) while we decorated and the Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton holiday CD played in the background. There was usually a fight over who got to put the tree topper on, there were laughs over my sister’s crooked pigtail picture, and there was always a lot of fun.
- Chocolate countdown calendar. A friend of mine brought one of these back from Disney for Cassidy. Of course it was a hit and every year since we’ve gotten one. In the first years of this tradition Brian and Cassidy shared the piece of chocolate. Then Cassidy got bigger and Amelia entered the picture. So we got one for Cassidy and one for Brian/Amelia. Now this year each of them have their own. This tradition costs exactly $3.03. We get them at Aldi!
- Christmas Cookie baking. This has been a tradition for Christmas my entire life. I remember baking with my Grandma and my Nana at their houses. There are a few specific cookies I always make and then others that rotate in and out based on feedback from the official cookie taster – Brian. Luckily, both of my daughters love to bake and continue this tradition with me. Brian’s favorite job is tasting everything to make sure it’s up to par, well except for Nana’s logs. He has tried to vote those out for years, it’s never happening.
- Watching cheesy Christmas movies. I’m pretty sure I make up for my sparse tv viewing in the one month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. If it’s a cheesy Christmas movie (specifically Hallmark and UP) you can bet I’ve seen it or intend to. Cassidy has started watching them with me now. Brian rolls his eyes every time he sees them on.
- Checking out Christmas light displays. We don’t always make a point of going to elaborate displays constructed by towns, groups, etc. Many times we just enjoy them on a random drive around town. Many times we make a game of seeing how many houses with lights we can find on our way to and from swimming lessons or the store.
- Celebrating St. Nick. The feast of St. Nicholas is celebrated on December 6. The evening before St. Nick comes and leaves a little something in our stockings. It’s usually a new ornament, a sweet treat and possibly a little something else.
Each family has to decide what is important to them and not care if others don’t agree with them. I give you permission this holiday season to do a little less. Only do the things that are most important to you. If you have older kids ask them what is most important to them and then only do those things. You might be surprised at how many things you’ve been doing over the years just because you thought everyone “had” to do them.
What are your favorite holiday traditions or activities (since not everything is a tradition – so says my editor)?