Simplify Your Holidays


"How often have you fervently and possibly not so secretly
wished that you didn't have to go through with today's
commercialized Christmas and all the shopping, presents, cooking,
office parties, family dinners, overeating, overdrinking, and overspending
that's a long way from simple
and in fact complicates your life a great deal?"

Elaine St. James


OK, so it's the first week of it too early to start talking about the holidays? 

I think not - after all, go into any shopping mall or department store, and you are already surrounded by holiday decorations. 

We have not one but several holidays coming up: Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year's Eve...and other festivities added to the mix over the next couple of months. 

If you want to have a holiday season that delights you and feeds your soul, rather than leaving you exhausted, stressed, and deep in debt, you will do yourself a big favor by taking a few minutes now to imagine how you truly want your holiday to unfold this year. 

Most of us get so busy with all the activities, shopping, baking, planning, present-wrapping, party-attending, and keeping-up-with-Martha-Stewart holiday decorating that we completely miss out on the joys of the season. 

My invitation to all of you, over the next two months, is to create and experience a wonderful, joyful holiday season - the way you want it. 

First, take a few minutes and look at what you truly enjoy about the holidays. 

Do you love the feeling of closeness with friends and family? If so, is buying presents going to create that feeling? Or is there another way to share the closeness you enjoy? 

Would you love to experience more of a sense of quiet and peace? If so, how about making sure you have plenty of time to relax and enjoy...which may mean giving up some of your usual holiday activities. 

Maybe you love a variety of homemade holiday cookies, yet don't want to invest an entire weekend baking. How about creating a cookie exchange at work or with friends? Each person bakes several dozen cookies of one kind (enough for one dozen for each member) and then you all exchange cookies. That way, you each get a couple dozen cookies of different varieties, and you've saved a lot of time in the process. You could even get together to do the baking, and enjoy each other's company in the process. 

Think of some creative ways to add more of what you love to this season in the simplest, most enjoyable way possible. 

Second, take a look at what, if anything, you no longer really enjoy during the holiday season. 

Do you no longer enjoy cooking for hours to create meals that take 20 minutes to eat, or shopping for the next 50 days to pick out the perfect gifts? Do you no longer care for charging all those gifts, and paying for them until July of next year? 

Do you enjoy attending every holiday party you've been invited to, or does the thought wear you out? 

Take a few minutes and write down any activities, traditions, and obligations you no longer enjoy (or maybe never enjoyed). Now take a look at how you can eliminate them from your holiday this year. 

You'll also want to give your family and friends a gentle heads-up that you'd like to make some changes this holiday season (so start now), and let them know why. 

This one key to a simpler, more joyful holiday season is keeping the traditions you truly love, and letting go of all the rest - and now is the time to start imagining.