The holiday decorations are for sale in stores before Halloween and Christmas music blasts everywhere on or even before November 1.
Christmas in America is all about commercialism. It’s about rushing, doing, more. I kinda hate it.
As an introvert, I really do dread the holidays. They wear me out. I try to be bright and cheery for my kids, but I really would love to hibernate from Halloween until about Mid-March. I often wake up early or go to bed late just to get some alone time.
As a military family, we’ve seldom been near family to visit over the holidays. While in a way, this relieves me of the potential stress, it also makes me feel very, very guilty.
We visited my husband’s mom at Christmas the year after we married. I was worried about her since it was her first holiday alone since his dad had passed in April. Then she passed the following April, so I’m so glad we went.
I invited my parents to visit the kids and me last Christmas while my husband was deployed. They’re getting older and I worry how many more opportunities we will have. It was actually mostly pleasant.
My kids have missed out on so much. Holidays are just the six of us. But still, it’s stressful to me.
What’s an introvert to do with all the expectations that come with the holidays?
Everyone has her favorite and least favorite aspects of holidays. What’s yours?
Discover your priority for the season.
Be mindful of what you’re doing, giving, having during the holidays.
Give to charity or volunteer. Try new recipes. Travel. Offer experiences instead of presents. Join a cookie or ornament swap.
Save money, time, and effort by forgoing card sending. It’s also more ethical and less wasteful. Send texts or social media greetings, or individual emails and online cards. Recycle or upcycle the cards you receive.
Take time to get outside in nature to unwind and think. There’s no bad weather, only bad clothing choices!
Make time for selfcare. I keep up my exercise routine and take a very hot Epsom salt bath almost every evening with chamomile or lavender tea. It really makes a difference.
The Thanksgiving holiday is rather a disappointment for me. We used to travel over the long weekend. We went to Prague and Porto and Venice. Several family members don’t even like turkey. We don’t really care about football. We certainly do not go shopping.
We’ve lived in so many different places as a military family that travel was a priority until the kids asked to stay home with a Christmas tree and home-cooked dinner. But we miss it too.
Each year, I focus on something different.
We’ve traveled over holidays. That really eased up a lot of stress for me. But, it created other stresses.
Some years, I really get into the Advent readings with my family.
Other years, I decorate all out. My front yard was a zoo last year with light up animals.
We often go to a local drive-through Christmas park to look at the decorations. We really enjoy those!
We went to see The Nutcracker ballet a couple years ago.
We try new recipes during the holidays, but not on the actual day in case of disappointment for tradition.
I realize that I’m making memories for my kids.
What are your favorite memories of the holidays? Do that for yourself and your family.
It’s all about the food for us.
While I don’t make a lot of sweets, we really do love the fancy dinners.
I roast a turkey breast for Thanksgiving. I make the most wonderful herb sausage cornbread dressing. Two of my kids don’t like turkey so much. I try to have lots of sides and maybe some ham for them.
We celebrate Saint Nicholas. We do stockings for St. Nick with chocolate orange candies and small gifts. This has relieved a lot of pressure for Christmas Eve and Day.
We celebrate Hanukkah with roast beef. When Hanukkah falls mid-December instead of during Christmas week, it’s extra special because it’s like we celebrate more and longer. I seldom can do eight nights of presents, but I try to make it special with a nice family gift. We read Hanukkah stories and celebrate the Light.
We have prime rib and Irish ham for Christmas Eve and Day dinners. My third child really loves the slow roasted ham.
With twice baked potatoes. They’re a favorite!
We also look forward to ham au gratin potatoes as leftovers!
I try to purchase my children an ornament each year so they will have a starter box of their very own Christmas when they grow up.
We almost always get new winter pajamas. And lots of books. And new house slippers.
We have a simple celebration for New Year’s.
Trusting my kids is a huge part of sanity over the holidays.
While my husband has a panic attack when they carry his grandmother’s china dishes and my crystal butter dish to and from the dining table, I know they can handle it. They take great care with these items. And they’re just things. Someday, it will all be theirs.
My kids always wanted to help put up our artificial Christmas tree when they were very little. I think they considered it a fun puzzle with the colored branch tips.
Nowadays, I bring the big duct-taped box out of the cellar and let them have at it. They’re plenty old enough and do a great job putting it up and pulling it down to store away for another year. I stand back in awe at their methods and cooperation. My husband and I usually string the lights. We all help sort and hang the ornaments.
The kids completely decorated the front of the house during deployment. It looked like a holiday zoo! I hardly had to help at all. They were amazing.
My middle daughter is quickly becoming self-proficient in the kitchen. She’s in charge of any potato dish. She also sets the table just lovely. I never have to check the placement of a fork or wine glass with her!
My husband is in charge of the prime rib or tenderloin. My son loves cooking meats – frying, grilling, all of it. He loves thermometers! He wants to work in a butcher shop when he’s older.
Let it go
I don’t go to holiday parties.
Most of my husband’s work obligations don’t include me anyway. Our street has had an adults-only progressive dinner, but I’d rather spend time with my family than drunk overgrown frat boys and their second wives. For unavoidable events where it’s important to make an appearance, know when and how to leave as early as possible without seeming rude.
We don’t go to church anymore. I kinda miss the advent readings and candle lighting and midnight singing. Years ago, the church we attended did a fun ladies ornament exchange. But I don’t miss the stress and drama at all.
I really, really, really hate shopping, even throughout the year. It’s not hard for me to say no to shopping in November and December. I shop online all year round. I save money with cash back apps. Giving experiences is better as my kids get older.
Declutter before the presents arrive so it’s less stress. One in, one out is our flexible rule. We don’t give lots, but try to limit presents to about four with this little poem.
We do a few gifts within our immediate family. No gifts for extended family. I don’t send cards. I absolutely don’t send braggy annual newsletters, not even on social media. I don’t like receiving those humble brags either. This is all for my sanity and for ethical reasons.
- Low: An Honest Advent Devotional by John Pavlovitz
- Calm Christmas and a Happy New Year: A little book of festive joy by Beth Kempton
- Unplug the Christmas Machine: A Complete Guide to Putting Love and Joy Back into the Season by Jo Robinson
- Hundred Dollar Holiday: The Case For A More Joyful Christmas by Bill McKibben
- Have Yourself a Stressless Little Christmas by Darla Satterfield Davis
- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
- The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People by Judith Orloff
- The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You by Elaine N. Aron
What do you want your family to remember about the holidays?
You might also like:
- Holiday Movies
- Holiday Books
- Celebrating Advent
- Celebrating St. Nicholas
- Celebrating Hanukkah
- Celebrating Epiphany
- Celebrating Holidays During Deployment
- Blue Christmas
- Hope in the Dark
- Holiday Blues
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