Strategy for a Slower Christmas

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The year my Christmas nightmares started happening in January, instead of their usual start time of July, I knew something had to change. The nightmares were always some version of the night before Christmas and I didn’t have anything ready. Have you experienced this?

These nightmares were also during a time that I was helping raise twins and I wanted to do everything “perfect” for them. It ended up being a crazy mess of  homemade gingerbread houses, homemade ornaments, perfect homemade gifts and assortments of cookies for every person we had even the slightest connection to. Plus, there were the desserts for extended family events and a Waldorf Holiday Faire.

Photo courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography and
Photo courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography and

I know there are at least a few of you out there who understand what I am talking about. I would spend most of the days surrounding Christmas completely sick and feeling rotten because I had run myself to the ground for the month leading up to it.

Here is how I stopped the nightmares and exhaustion. It was actually very simple and it worked.

The next November when I went to make my list of everything I could conceive of to do for Christmas, I still let it be the super long list that it had always been. I added everything I wanted to get done in November and December to the list. Everything I could think of. No holding back.

Then, I decided that I would get a huge amount of joy from crossing things off the list, whether I actually did them or not. And, I made it a game to see how many things I could cross off the list without doing them.

I think two of the secrets to having this work is:
1.  When you make your initial list, don’t leave anything off. Really write down everything you would want to do before and during Christmas if time wasn’t an issue.
2.  Leave the list as is and then cross things off organically as you progress through December. What I noticed was that as I got closer to Christmas, I had less time and had to prioritize differently. This is when it really started to feel incredible to cross things off the list and let go of them. There is something magical about having it written down on the list and then consciously deciding to cross it off. You can also see all the things you  are choosing not to do and it feels good.

I am here to say that it worked for me. And I know it will work for some of you, too.

As I crossed things off the list, I could feel space and time opening up. It was a relief knowing that less things on the list would allow more time to really enjoy making the gingerbread houses. I discovered that making my own wrapping paper is actually more fun and more important to me than Santa’s Sleigh Ride. You will gain insight, too.

As for the following January? No more nightmares. None. And I haven’t had any since.

Be well.