How can the holidays be more enjoyable and less stressful?
Those are the two words I want to bring with me into the holidays this year.
These words come to mind as I think of Jesus coming into this world.
His birth was intentional. Planned before time began.
His birth was simple. In a simple, little town. In a stable.
As I think of and plan for the holidays, I want to intentionally choose things that simplify. Enjoying the people and events that surround me this time of year is my priority.
Here are five things I choose this year.
Choose My Favorite Traditions
I’m asking my family and we’re picking our favorite traditions for the season.
We’ll only focus on those.
I’m choosing to decorate sugar cookies together.
I was remembering Christmas two years ago when we were in the middle of a remodel. Dust everywhere. My son’s friend joined us at the card table where we had our annual frosting and decorating of the sugar cookies. Dust all around us and a sheet on the window and what? Someone on their phone?
My kids choose the tradition of eating homemade waffles and sausage for dinner after we decorate the tree. It’s a terrible idea. I don’t suggest you start it if you are in charge of cooking. I stand there for an hour making waffles. Just order pizza. But I enjoy it for them as it’s one of their favorite traditions.
We all choose home movies. We laugh so hard we cry. I can’t believe I lived through those crazy times with four little kids five years old and under. It was soooo fun…and so loud!
This year my husband is choosing a new tradition. Were all going to a tree farm, hiking out to choose our first real tree, drinking hot cocoa, etc. Picturesque. I can’t wait to see how it really turns out. 🙂
Choose My Thoughts
Over the last year, I have learned that my emotions come from my thoughts. So if I want to feel happy and thankful and grateful and loving over the holiday season, then I will need to manage my mind.
My brain offers me a LOT of thoughts. Some create positive emotion and some don’t.
This year I’m going to watch my brain with curiosity. I am going to be selective with which thoughts I accept from my brain and which I will graciously decline. “Thanks brain, but I’m not interested in continuing to think that thought.”
Here are some of my favorite thoughts:
- I have the exact amount of time to get what I need done.
- Showing up with love and seeing the good in everyone present is my priority.
- I can stay in budget and have an amazing holiday.
- I’m doing the best I can.
Instead of blaming my circumstances or other people or situations around me for my emotions, I’m going to manage my own mind and be responsible for my own emotions so I can show up as my best self.
If you’d like to learn more about this, you can schedule a free coaching session with me here.
Choose to be Grateful
I want to notice and be grateful for all the things – little and big.
Road trips. AKA Bonding. We’re taking a 12-hour road trip…one way. We do this about once a year but now the boys are in college and the girls are in high school. I’m choosing gratitude for a vehicle and for family to visit.
Every Sunday in December I’ll watch my husband sing in the church choir and silently thank God for giving me him.
I want to enjoy the smell of garlic on my fingers right in the midst of all the cooking and heat of the kitchen.
I want to sit in the quiet morning with lights on the tree and treasure the scripture as I read my Bible.
Choose to Plan
Planning is good.
Make a list of all the things you want to do. Remember you don’t HAVE to do anything. Everything on your list are things you are CHOOSING to do.
Get out your calendar and map out exactly when you will do each thing. Then, throw your list away and find peace in the fact that it’s all scheduled.
I’ve started a Christmas gift idea list on my phone. I use the Notes app that comes on the iPhone.
We just buy gifts for our parents and our children. My siblings and I text each other and say, “Do you want to do gifts or not?” And we all say no. So we don’t have to get any extended family gifts. Easy. Done. I love it. In the past, we’ve drawn names or done a family gift of something homemade or a game we can all play together or we plan an activity we do together.
I’m having three families arrive at my home on December 28th. I’ve started to plan. I’m splurging on a housekeeper to come and clean.
Check. Done with cleaning.
I’ve planned our meals in my head and added an appointment in my calendar on December 26th to cook the meals and put them in the freezer. I want to be able to relax and enjoy the two and a half days I’ll have with them without having to cook.
I’ve decided not to do cards this year because we are getting a photographer after Christmas and didn’t want to plan for photos before. Done. One more thing off my list and I didn’t even have to do anything.
My list is shrinking as I write this post!
Choose to Be Available
I want to be used by God.
Over the holidays, I’m choosing to keep my eyes looking outward, my ears listening to the Spirit, and my heart open to what and where God wants to use me.
Will it be serving somewhere? Giving? Inviting someone over?
I’m praying about it now.
Simple and Intentional
Choosing my favorites, choosing my thoughts, choosing to be grateful, choosing to plan, and choosing to be used by God will keep my holidays simple and intentional.
What will you choose?
Tracy Hoth, Simply Squared Away
Tracy is a certified life coach and a professional organizer helping women end their struggle with disorganization through her Organized Life Academy and 1:1 private coaching.
Trusting Jesus when she was 23 years old was her greatest decision. She continues to learn that God is her everything, grateful that He faithfully pursues her.