Here are some ideas for how to incorporate slow living into your Christmas season. There is a lot of pressure to do Christmas “just right” during the holiday season. These pressures can end up stealing the joy of the season.
It’s January, but I’m still not tired of our Christmas Tree. It still stands in front our living room warming the space with its soft lights and festive decorations, the popcorn garland daily tempting my one-year-old to enjoy a quick snack when Mom isn’t looking.
I don’t know how much longer we will leave the tree up, but I truly love that it is still bringing me loads of joy when I sit and look at it.
Christmas Gone in a Flash
I think most of us can relate to the feeling of excitement leading up to Christmas when we were children. It always seemed like it took forever to arrive. Maybe you still feel the same.
As I’ve gotten older though, I find the holiday season speeding by faster and faster.
I used to adamantly be opposed to any Christmas preparations before Thanksgiving. But last year I realized something, Christmas was gone before I had had a chance to really enjoy it. The music, the decorations, the traditions I hoped to create and enjoy with my family had flown by and I had barely had time to enjoy them.
As November rolled around this year, I felt a dread rising in my heart. The holiday season was coming like a roaring train and was I going to miss it again?
Keeping Up With the Joneses
There is a lot of pressure online to “keep up with the Joneses.” There are so many wonderful and beautiful things to be enjoyed through the holiday season.
I personally have recognized that I don’t have the time, money, energy or desire to “go all out” on decorating, creating traditions or purchasing gifts.
While there is nothing wrong with that, it ends up creating more stress and less joy. And those things while good, aren’t the true meaning of Christmas anyway.
That’s not to say I don’t feel the pressure the same as you. You only have to spend a few minutes on social media to feel like a failure most days. And the failure feeling can be doubled over the holidays as so many of us want the season to feel wonderful and special to those we love.
The “Perfect” Tree
One pressure I felt up until recent years, was to create the perfect beautiful tree, and for a time the perfect tree was a creative themed tree. Was my tree unique enough? Would my tree be beautiful enough to post a picture online of it? Would others like it? I know, pretty silly…
When I got married, I wanted a beautiful tree for our home but the frugal part of me always resisted purchasing a bunch of beautiful and expensive ornaments. So I bought some plastic ones from Walmart that would fill out the tree and allow me to have the themed tree I so desired.
One year I did a red, gold and brown tree, then a white and silver tree, a music theme and then a woodland tree. I’m sure there were a few more themes in the mix too. But now I can’t even remember…
While I enjoyed the theme trees at the time, I’ve found more meaning in the collection of unique ornaments gathered over time, not having a perfectly coordinated tree.
And while I still don’t like having cheap and junky ornaments on my tree, I’ve learned to love the repetitiveness of the same tree year after year. No pressure to come up with a new and creative idea and purchase something different every year.
While there are many home decorators out there who do an amazing job of creating a new and beautiful tree year after year, I’ve found this isn’t what I value for my family.
A Simple Tradition
When I finally realized this, the burden of decorating the tree was lifted. What a good feeling!
What I do want, is to create a collection of fun, unique, quality ornaments. I hope to be able to send with each of my children a unique and beautiful collection when they leave our home and start homes of their own someday. Then they can take some of our family Christmas memories with them to their homes.
So each year, I take some time to look for ornaments that describe what our life is like currently or that remind me of what my children are like at that season of life, one ornament for each child.
This year however, we allowed the girls to each pick their own ornament. While we were traveling to TN for Thanksgiving, they found some fairy ornaments at the historical inn we stayed at. These fairies were the “most beautiful thing” they had ever seen!
I wouldn’t have chosen them for the girls and was even tempted to say no because they didn’t “fit the theme” of what I liked for our tree, or the “tradition” I hoped to create of me picking ornaments for them, but I’m so glad that I’m continuing to learn and grow even now. These little fairy ornaments remind me of what our little girls love right now; unicorns, fairies and rainbows.
I know they will remember the process of picking the fairies out, naming them (oh, yes they have names) and carefully finding the prefect spot for them on our tree.
I anticipate the joy they will experience when they unwrap them from their protective tissue to be placed once again on the tree year after year.
What Brings Me Holiday Joy
As our children have gotten older, watching their glee as they unwrap each ornament from the tissue paper is what I find bringing me joy. Not the perfect tree, with all the the ornaments spaced out properly.
Our tree this year definitely looks like it was decorated by children and for the first time, I’m ok with that. What a pleasure and blessing it is to have these little ones in our life right now.
I love seeing the ornaments I’ve made over the years come back out again. I love seeing the ornaments given to me by some of my beloved piano students from past years. The ones carefully made, collected and received as gifts remind me that slowly building over time is way better than tearing down and rebuilding every year.
We are slowly adding to our collection and giving our tree more memories to be rediscovered each year. Now I have no desire whatsoever to start from scratch and create a new tree each year. I like our Christmas tree to remember.
Oh, and I have finally joined the camp of Christmas before Thanksgiving is totally fine. I no longer want Christmas to rush by too fast. So if that means extending the season in either direction a little more, I’m perfectly fine with that.
Time To Reflect
Finally, realizing how I let what I saw others doing dictate what I thought I wanted, is helping to me reflect and see how that may be happening in other ways too.
It can be hard to separate social media and personal preference or opinion. We can often take on pressure to do what we see others doing because, it looks pretty and amazing. But is it really for us? That’s the question I need to ask myself often, not just at Christmas time.
This is the perfect time, right after the holiday season is over to figure out what I liked and didn’t like about this Christmas season.
I am going to write my thought in my calendar to remind me, so when the next Christmas season rolls around, I don’t get lost in the pressure of seeing what everyone else is doing and forget what I have finally realized over the last two years.
Ideas for a Slow Living Christmas
Maybe you are reading right after Christmas or leading up to Christmas or some other time of year. Here are a few things you can do to help reduce your holiday stress for this year.
- Decide what is important to you and your family. Write it down and reference it often, especially when you are starting to feel stressed.
- Stop looking at holiday inspiration online.
- Limit your time on social media and don’t feel the need to post all your special moments on social media too. Just enjoy them.
- Step back and look at Christmas through the eyes of a child again.
- Make memories with your loved ones, be together, hug, laugh, dance, etc.
- Remember that Christmas isn’t about presents, decorating, parties and traditions. It’s about Christ coming as a baby, to live a perfect life, to die on the cross for the sins of the world.
While I don’t know if you are in a similar spot with feeling pressure to create the perfect Pinterest worthy tree, holiday experiences for your family, or decorate to the nines, I hope you are encouraged to take some time and look for what is really important to you and your family. Not what social media is saying is “important” to everyone else.