Miserly old Scrooge had the Ghost of Christmas Present to show him he was being a putz; we, on the other hand, have a gift. In the midst of an unusually busy season, we have the chance to give ourselves and our loved ones our absolute best–that’s the gift of our Christmas presence.
When the winter holidays come along, pressure starts to mount. We have to keep up with all our normal responsibilities, and we add gift shopping, travel, baking, holiday parties and decorations to the must-do list. A girl’s got wants, too, so onto the list go shopping for a perfect New Year’s Eve dress, wrapping presents with Pinterest-level perfection and sending seasons greetings cards to friends and family.
That’s enough to keep us busy well into January, and yet, we somehow manage to do it all before the 25th.
Religion aside, there’s magic in the winter season.
The weeks leading up to the holidays are made for spending time with friends and family and enjoying at least one late morning luxuriating in pajamas. Even if employers only give one day off or we have to work on New Year’s Eve, the weeks leading up to the holidays are infused with extra cheer. We just have to remember to embrace it.
Put down the credit card, set aside the baking pan, and think for a second: what do I really want for Christmas?
My answer is uninterrupted time with loved ones. When I’m completely honest with myself, I realize that I’m usually the one doing the interrupting! Hang on, I need to get a picture of this. That grumpy angel ornament is begging to be Instagrammed. Can we talk later? I have three dozen cookies to make for our holiday potluck tomorrow.
This holiday season as I make and buy gifts, I’m resolving to give one to myself as well. I’m asking myself for the gift of presence. I want be fully engaged in each beautiful moment of the holiday season, not distracted by stress, my cell phone or looking forward with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. I’m looking the pressure to do it all square in the eye and saying, “Nope, thankyouverymuch. I’d rather be singing carols, drinking eggnog, cracking up with my family and cuddling with my boyfriend. Peace!”
Here’s how to give yourself the gift of presence this holiday season:
1. Turn off your cell phone or put it on airplane mode.
My cousin recounted a party she went to where everyone was on their cell phone, missing out on the chance to actually catch up with friends. She noted, “I could’ve stayed home and looked at Instagram instead of actually going to the party, and I would’ve had the same experience.” Yikes! The holiday season brings loads of chances to reconnect with old friends–often a once a year opportunity. Make the most of it by powering down the phone and enjoying the conversation. If you do want to capture the moment, keep your phone on airplane mode and only use it for the camera function.
2. Just don’t do it.
You know what’s better than doing it all? Doing all the stuff you want to do, and none of the stuff you don’t!
Skip the hours in the kitchen and put store-bought cookies on a nice plate; order a gift online and attach a heartfelt card; throw everything into gift bags or outsource wrapping to an entrepreneurial young relative. (I used to make a quarter for every present I wrapped for my mom. Win-win!) The less stressed out you feel, the sweeter and funnier you will be at every holiday gathering. It’s your company that people really want this holiday season, so make your time count.
3. Make traditions count.
Traditions are one of the loveliest parts of any holiday celebration, but we often feel pressure to do everything just the way it’s always been done. If your grandma always spent hours decorating perfect sugar cookies, make sure you actually enjoy the process before you commit to doing the same! Call in friends to bake with you and have a glass of bubbly, or reminisce with your sister as you roll out the dough. If you hate baking (or decorating or tinsel-strewing or party hosting), look deeper into the tradition and replicate the part you do enjoy: playing cheesy music and dancing around the house with your siblings, groaning at your dad’s classically bad jokes or bringing together lots of loved ones in the same place.
I can’t wait to slow down and revel in quality time, Elvis’ Christmas album and the joy of being fully present this holiday season. What are you most looking forward to?
The insightful post you just enjoyed was brought to you by the lovely Alicia of Jaybird Blog. She is one of my very first sponsors and in getting to know her better over the past few weeks, has quickly become one of my favorite bloggers.
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Need a place to start? Check out her post on the Guide to Being Alone, her Paleo & Gluten-Free 5-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake recipe (um, YUM!), or What’s Your Mustache – a post that really resonated for me, in which she said the following:
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Hugs & snuggles.