I’ve often worried that I’m a “Grinch” mom. I have wondered if my kids will grow up, move into their own homes, and realize they need to see a therapist because of all they were deprived of at Christmases past. I’ve found myself comparing our simple family traditions with other families’ highlight reels on social media, and it could feel like we fall short.
But I’ve come to realize, what I refuse to do might be what brings them back home for the holidays after they leave. When we don’t overwhelm our kids with material goods, or ourselves with unrealistic expectations, it’s very possible to have a completely stress-free Christmas season. I love having a hygge-filled, peaceful home for the holidays; a place where everyone is loved and welcomed.
So I love my kids and I love Christmas, but there are things I refuse to do, for a stress-free Christmas.
1. I refuse to be an angry mom over the holidays due to unmet expectations. I used to be driven by all the holiday expectations, some assumed and some stated. Make crafts! Buy Christmas pajamas! Do a perfectly coordinated photoshoot! Mail 100 cards! Write a Christmas letter! Make it magical! Make it Instagram worthy! Some of these are great, but trying to do it all? No more.
2. I refuse to do a lot of baking, just because that’s “what you do”. We like making sugar cookies. I involve the kids and we have a lot of fun decorating snowman, mitten, and tree-shaped cookies. I let them make allllll the mess and I clean it up after they’re in bed. I do this because it’s fun. I do this because it’s only one day a year. But I will not bake 20 different treats to impress my friends or neighbours. Some people love baking and I happily leave that gift to them.
3. I refuse to give multiple meaningless gifts just because it’s expected. We’ve gotten into the habit of giving our kids experiences (such as trips) and have found that travel or other uninterrupted time spent with each other brings us together, creating more lasting memories than physical gifts ripped open on Christmas morning. Additionally this year, my husband wanted to put gifts under the tree, and I wholeheartedly agreed. I’m game because we haven’t always been able to, but this year we can. We sat down together and put a lot of thought into each gift, one or two per child, rather than blitzing them with an overwhelming pile.
4. I refuse to deal with mall craziness and holiday road rage. As I write this, it is the evening of December 21 and I have yet to enter a shopping mall this season. Trying to maneuver a crowded mall with everyone at max stress levels is not my idea of a good time. Instead, I like to order online and support local artisans and family. For example, my sister-in-law and her husband make the most amazing laser engraved products here. A customized insulated coffee mug is thoughtful and zero-waste.
5. I refuse to entertain the Elf on the Shelf. While I know some moms love to do this, it sounds really stressful to me and I know it would not help me to be my best self. If you arise with joy to move the Elf every morning and it doesn’t just feel like another line on the to-do list, then, by all means, keep doing it!
Moral of the story? You can’t be/do it all if you want to keep the peace at Christmas. You might be a great baker, or love to handwrite Christmas cards or maybe you love nothing more than making a killer turkey dinner. Then do that. But don’t create unnecessary stress and pressure by trying to do it all. You are perfectly amazing when you are you, and when you are present. That is the greatest gift you can give this world.