Christmas is a magical time of the year. It is the one time where every house on the street is lit up with beautiful lights and- if we are lucky- a white fluffy snow will cover the ground like a blanket. Presents are piled neatly underneath the Christmas tree and children are looking for Santa Clause. The picture I’ve painted is serene, but there is another side to Christmas. Sometimes we allow the pressure to make the holidays perfect overwhelm us. We have to find the perfect gift or cook the perfect dinner. The house needs to be perfect. This pressure can cause unnecessary stress and allow the joy to be sucked from the season.
This is the first year that my husband and I will spend Christmas as a married couple. I had a beautiful picture in my mind of how everything should go. I wanted the perfect tree- which was a problem since we literally have no room in our one bedroom apartment. I wanted to get my husband the perfect gifts, but all he put on his wish list were socks. I wanted to hang lights everywhere, but our landlord won’t allow lights outside. So when I finally stood back to admire my Charlie Brown Christmas tree, the socks I had bought my husband, and the absence of lights outside my heart sank. I felt like Christmas was ruined. Our first Christmas wasn’t going to special. My husband told me that next year it would be better. We’ll have more room and can do whatever we want. But I had made these unrealistics notions of what our Christmas should look like and when they fell short, I was upset. The fact that the malls and grocery stores are packed as the holidays draw near tells me I am not the only one seeking out the perfect gift or recipe. When we search for perfection, we are often disappointed and stressed. So how can we take the stress out of the holidays?
One thing that always seems stressful is wrapping presents. they have to be neatly wrapped with matching bows. The truth is that the paper is going to be ripped to shreds anyways. Why not simplify and relieve stress by opting for gift bags instead? They can be reused as well, so it saves money. Another fun idea is using the comics from the Sunday paper. They are colorful and easy to wrap. Add a pretty bow and you have an originally wrapped gift. Casseroles seem to be the food of choice for holiday dinners, but cooking them can be stressful. They call for all kinds of ingredients and realistically, they aren’t healthy. Instead of that famous broccoli casserole, opt for steamed broccoli with your favorite seasoning. It will save you time and money. A good recipe is to put organic peppered bacon and sea salt on top of your broccoli. It’s simple and still healthy.
In my quest to create the perfect Christmas, I was missing the point completely. Christmas is a time for families to be together. If I couldn’t fit the perfect tree into our apartment or get my husband more than socks, that didn’t take away from the time we were going to spend together. So don’t stress about finding your loved one the perfect gift or making the perfect dish. Simplify your Christmas routine and use that energy to spend time with your family. Time is the most important thing you can give those you love.