It’s that time of year again and I am going to be completely honest with you … I am exhausted! Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of any Holiday. Halloween is my personal favorite, I think because it falls in my favorite time of year though. So, Christmas is my runner up and I love all the twinkly lights and decorations. I enjoy (shocking I know) choosing the perfect gift for someone and wrapping it. I also enjoy food, I mean who doesn’t? But, do you ever wonder if it’s all just a little too much? I do!

Are you married or dating someone? Are your parent’s married? I ask these questions because it affects what Holiday celebrations you attend. If you are married do you attend both yours and your spouses celebrations? Are either of your parents divorced and/or remarried, so you attend both sides of one side? Do you attend a friends celebration? Do you host a celebration? Me, Me, Me!

I have done it all, no matter how magical Christmas is or is supposed to be, it is exhausting and most of the time people lose sight of what is truly is about. There is this movie … “The Grinch Stole Christmas”, the one with Jim Carrey, I have watched it a dozen times every December since I was a little girl. The reason I love it so much is because it reminds me of what the Holiday Season really means. It teaches us that family and friends and time spent together is more important than a gift. However getting people to live that way and teach their children and families that… is not as easy as it may sound.

I have been Black Friday shopping once in my life, it was awful. Completely awful. Although I was and still am on a tight budget for Holiday gift giving, I struggle with how incredibly vicious people can be. Giving a gift is supposed to be exciting and magical (if you will), but nowadays it really isn’t. For example, how many gifts do you have under your tree or hidden in your closet for your spouse or children? Are you worried that you have too many or that you don’t have enough? Or that the cost of one gift outweighs another gift? Let me tell you something…RELAX.

Christmas is meant for spending time with your loved ones. Whether they are by blood or marriage or adoption or simply friendship. It is NOT about the 7 gifts you purchased or made for brother or the 18 small gifts you purchased for your children. It just isn’t. Why…

I have fond memories of Christmas as a child; we always went to my Grandparents house on Christmas Eve to celebrate with our whole family. Now, our tradition of opening gifts changed throughout the years. Sometimes we opened one at a time, other times we opened all at once, and some Christmases we would play a game that involved a gift for just one person. It was always changing, but do you know what remained the same? … The time spent together. We always had a huge table full of food to munch on throughout the entire afternoon and evening. The kids would always try and sneak cookies and you could always find one of the Uncles at the food table. It was an exhausting but thrilling day that I looked forward to every single year. That is … until I had children of my own and everything changed. I always saw myself bringing my own little family to Holiday Celebrations and showing them the traditions and exciting things I did growing up. But like all families … something happens. Whether it be a Grandparent or Parent passing away, a disagreement with a sibling, a change of tradition, someone moved away, the kids are off at college far away, or maybe you celebrate with your spouse’s family now. Something, eventually, always changes … and sometimes it’s not always in your control.

I have learned over the years that as I grew my own family and found my way through my life that things weren’t as “magical” as I remember them being when I was a little girl. Since then, I have tried extra hard to make things exciting for my own children and it is more exhausting than I ever intended it to be. For example, we currently celebrate between five and seven Christmases each year. FIVE to SEVEN. What? How many Christmas Celebrations does your family attend? I want to know!

I want to know why we put so much pressure on ourselves. Why we shop and shop and shop until we have the same amount of gifts for each person or child? Why we push ourselves to make sure that our houses are spotless and our decorations are perfect? Do you really care? Does someone really notice? Do you know who actually cares … us Moms/Women! That’s who! I know I do. I put so much pressure on myself to throw the best Holiday get together or to have matching decorations with our fancy plate ware for a special dinner. Why? Because I saw my Grandmother do it and it feels like something I should carry on as a tradition. But guess what … I am the only one who cares! So what can I do?

STOP! Stop worrying. Stop stressing. Stop purchasing. Stop over-analyzing. Stop! Just stop.

How can you make Christmas feel magical and yet create NEW traditions?

• Gift Giving for Children: keep it simple!
o Something they need.
o Something they read.
o Something they want.
o Something they wear.

• Gift Giving for Adults
o Limit ONE gift per person or exchange.
o Play a game instead.

• Food
o Potluck! Hello!
o Order Out (crazy I know, but it is okay).
o Appetizers only.
o Dessert get together only.

• Decoration
o Don’t overdo it.
o Don’t stress out about how fancy everything looks.
o Make it fun!
o Ugly sweater get together
o PJ get together

Stop putting so much pressure on yourself to make Christmas or any Holiday for that matter so perfect. Do you know what you and your children will remember? The moments they helped make Christmas Breakfast, the moment they opened their stocking, the moment they snuggled up to watch a Christmas Movie, and the moment they played with their new toy.

Christmas is not about how far you travel to make your family look perfect in a photo together in front of 30 other people.

Christmas is not about how many gifts you bring to impress your in-laws.

Christmas is not about how over the top your home looks so people remember the time spent there.

Christmas IS about YOU and your FAMILY.

Christmas IS about the little things you do to make it special together.

What can you do?

• Put down your phone, exit out of the Amazon.com App, and go color a picture of Santa with your kids.
• Make cookies.
• Build the messy gingerbread house.
• Let them eat a little sugar.
• Sit down and watch the Mickey’s Christmas (even though you’d rather pull your hair out).
• Load them up in the car and go look at lights.
• Build a snowman.
• Make a Christmas-Count-Down-Chain.
• Decorate the Christmas Tree.
• Volunteer at your local Church or Food Shelter.
• Have a PJ day.
• Buy an Elf on the Shelf. (See my post here for a super easy ideas!)

Enjoy the time you have with your children, before they grow up and have their own lives and traditions and spouses and crazy schedules that they think they need to keep up on. Relax a little will you! This comes from a Mom who struggles so much with wanting things to look and be perfect. Who wants the big Holiday get togethers, even though they no longer exist. Who wants the fancy décor just because. Who loves to blast the Christmas music and make cookies. But it also comes from a Mom who is expecting her fourth child and is realizing that the Christmas she remembers is completely different now. That it might just be time for her to make her own traditions.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to YOU. To the person who has taken a moment to stop her crazy schedule and read something that hopefully gives her a little peace of mind. Now go! Go enjoy your life and ENJOY your time with those you love. Remember that your kids are only this little ONE time.