Raise your digital hand if you ever just dread the holiday season. Like you want to get into it, and every year you tell yourself it’s going to be different. But then that one holiday tradition that you do every year (that you hate) pops into your head and it’s like you’re already just 100% done with the season.
You’re just sitting in this feeling of “Oh great. I’m going to have to go to that thing. I’m going to have to do this thing. I’m going to have to see that person. Ughhh. Is it the New Year yet?”
It’s like our traditions have become really overbearing. They feel heavy instead of fun. And most of us don’t look forward to them at all.
And the thing is, if we’re not enjoying the season, our kids aren’t going to enjoy it very much either. Even if we give them an awesome holiday.
They can sense that mom and dad are not having fun. They can feel that. And that sucks because it should be a magical time for all of us.
But instead we go way out of our way with traditions. We stretch our schedules and our budgets way thinner than is comfortable. And then that ruins the special occasion because we can’t enjoy it.
Basically, we’re doing what we hate. And so, it’s not shocking that we don’t look forward to the holidays like we did when we were kids.
Joshua Becker wrote once that “traditions should not detract from the season; they should elevate it.” And I really love that.
We’ve got to start being purposeful in the things that we give our time to during the holiday season. Let’s apply minimalism to our traditions.
Let’s stop dreading the holidays because it’s filled with things we hate and let’s start enjoying them in a more intentional way.
I’m going to give you some steps that you can take that will help you intentionally choose and carry out meaningful holiday traditions that align with your and your family’s values and vision for the holidays.
Give Yourself Permission to be Simple
You don’t have to have some huge, elaborate tradition in order to feel like you’re making your kids’ childhoods magical. If you like elaborate traditions and they bring you joy, then great! Keep killing it!
But if that’s not your thing and you really struggle with that, please don’t feel like you have to have a Pinterest-perfect, Instagrammable tradition. I’m giving you permission to let go of that mindset.
One of our biggest family traditions is just baking sugar cookies. It’s so simple. So, so basic.
And some people may look at that tradition and think, “Wow, Allie. Baking sugar cookies…You’re really killing it in the holiday department.” But my kids love it.
We all look forward to it. So, who cares if it’s something super simple. It makes us happy.
Find Something That Makes You All Happy
Along those same lines, find something that makes you and your family happy. Ask your kids, talk to your spouse.
What do you guys really enjoy doing during the holidays? What do you look forward to?
If your kids are super little, you’ll probably just have to decide with your spouse. But when your kids are old enough, you can ask them what they’re feeling, what they like and enjoy and kind of reevaluate.
If you’re a single mama, you can either decide on your own or ask a friend or family member for input. You can even ask them to join in the tradition so you have a little help and don’t have to do it all on your own.
Don’t Over-Obligate Yourself
A handful of years ago when we weren’t living a simple lifestyle, we were giving into the holiday season B.S. of “more, more, more,” and we missed baking sugar cookies. We just had so much going on that we didn’t even do it.
What happened was that it had gotten lost in the hullabaloo of the holiday season because we were so over-obligated and our schedule was so stretched that Brian and I just forgot.
And Bella said something about it and she was really sad. And I remember thinking, “Why? Why do we do this? Why did I miss the one thing we love doing as a family for a ton of other things that we hate doing?”
We were so busy doing so many other things that it ruined our main and favorite tradition. So, I learned that it’s OK to shove everything else completely to the side and cut your “obligations” down to the bare basics.
Don’t let anyone else guilt you over that. This is your family and these are your holidays.
Don’t Be Afraid to Let Traditions Die
I think it’s so funny when we cling to things that are not working for us anymore because it’s something that we’ve always done.
Just because your family has always celebrated the holidays in one way does not mean that it can never change. It doesn’t mean that you can’t shift expectations.
You can be the first person to have a new idea and say, “Let’s do this instead!” Even when it comes to relatives and people who are outside of your immediate family.
Who knows, your family might thank you for bringing that idea to the table.
Ask Yourself, “Why?”
One thing I see a lot with dads and moms who work outside the home is a kind of push back against simplifying the holidays. They want to go all in, really over the top.
I would just encourage you to ask yourself or ask your spouse where this is desire to go all out is coming from. Don’t be condescending or anything but just try reflecting on the root cause of this feeling.
Usually when I help somebody dig into this, it’s because the holidays feel like a time when they get to spend more time with their families than they usually do. They already feel a little guilty that they miss things and they want to go all in because they don’t feel like a good parent if they don’t.
Please know that’s total B.S. You are a good parent.
You are providing for your family. You don’t have to do a million things and spend a million dollars to “make up” for working so that your kids have food on the table and clothes on their backs and a roof over their heads.
I love traditions and I love gifts and this is not about going the opposite way and being against either of these things. My family has a lot of gifts and traditions in our holiday season.
But it is about choosing traditions that add joy to the holidays, not subtract from it.
What is the reason for this season for you and your family? Be purposeful in your decisions and choose traditions that align with that.
Ready to take action? I created Your Happiest Holidays to help bring joy and peace back to this season.