It’s Okay to Say No This Holiday Season


It’s Okay to Say No This Holiday Season

The title of this blog post seems almost profane, doesn’t it? Truly, I debated on even writing it. The holidays are supposed to be all about giving, being rosy cheeked and cheery, completely overcome with excitement, thinking less about yourself, and (literally) checking things off lists just in the nick of time.

The holidays are all about meeting up with friends and family that are in town, taking your kids to see Santa and Grandma and Great Grandpa and 1,000 other relatives, making that soup for the church potluck, finding coordinating family pajamas for everyone including the dog, making the cookies for the kids’ holiday parties, having wrapping paper that doesn’t look like Santa’s, decorating the house, packing the car for the trip to see out of town family, getting an angel tree gift, volunteering at the local shelter, making sure to spend time with your kids, cleaning the house spotless for visitors, ensuring everyone has a gift to give and receive, and no one is left out, getting those Dirty Santa/White Elephant gifts that are under the game price limit (but yet cool and appropriate), doing something fun as a family in the three days everyone is off work, sending out those holiday cards to people you hardly even know, making sure you hit every family and friend holiday party (even if it’s just a brief appearance), and making sure the kids spend equal time with all of their family members, and, and, and…

I want to cry just looking at this insane, but not even complete, list.

This is the reality of the holiday season. At least, I have made it my reality the past few years. The normally unspoken, glorified and overwhelming busyness of it all can be overbearing and mind-boggling. The chaotic scenes in the movies of the family running helter-skelter through the airport trying to make their Christmas Eve flight back home, lugging the luggage, making sure everyone has their tickets, and dragging kids in tow? That’s what the inside of my brain looks like from roughly November 20th to Jan 5th. Every year at some point, in tears no doubt, I ask myself why I put myself in this predicament. Why do I load my plate so full? Why do I try to do ten thousand things that no one in their right mind can accomplish on such a schedule? Why do I try bending over backwards to please every single person I know besides the people that live inside my own home? Why do I expect to be able to accomplish all these things and still have the joy that the holidays are supposed to bring? 

The true holiday joy has been lacking on my end and I am the one at fault.

This year I have vowed to be different. (Much to do from the begging of my husband who has to deal with me the insane two months of the holiday season. Bless you honey, and thank you, because I don’t know if I would have seen my chaos without you). 

This year I am saying NO.

I am not going to load things onto my plate so much that it’s cracking. The kid doesn’t have Santa pajamas? That’s fine. We don’t make the friend/church/family/community event because we honestly just do not want to go and instead would rather spend time at home? That’s A-OK. We decide to skip out on the picturesque gingerbread house building, Christmas Eve cookie baking, sending treats to the neighbors? You know what, it’ll all be alright. The world will still turn.

My change in attitude this year can possibly be attributed to the fact that I’ll be nine months pregnant by the time Christmas rolls around, and granted that will allow me to (willingly) remove quite a few things from my to-do list, but I will be honest — I’m excited for this year to be different. I am excited to finally let go of whatever weight I normally let hold me down and worry me. I want to experience the holiday joy this year, but more importantly, I want the people that live in my home (and those that visit us!) to sense the true joy too. I don’t want anyone to be worried about setting Mom off over the tiniest thing. I want them to be happy, and I want to be happy, so I’m saying no to quite a bit this year. 

Busyness is over-glorified. We are all supposed to have so many things to do that it’s basically a competition to see who has more on their plate. The words chaos and holidays go hand-in-hand and almost everyone knows that. But that’s not what the holidays are about, and I want to change that this year. I want to see the excitement in my son’s eyes Christmas morning and soak it in instead of being worried about cleaning all the mess up for people coming over later. It’s fine for there to be a mess — it’s Christmas! I want to soak in moments with my husband in our pajamas watching the joy of our soon-to-be-big-brother son truly experience the magic and true meaning of Christmas instead of watching the clock worrying about what time we need to leave the house in uncomfortably nice clothes to go eat at so-and-so’s event.

Don’t get me wrong, spending time with friends and family is one of the absolute best parts of the holidays! But when it began to take away from my own family inside of my own home, I decided it was time to reevaluate my holiday priorities. There will be plenty of time hundreds of other days of the year to worry about going to visit alllllll the other people, and doing allllll the things on the crazy list I mentioned earlier. Basically everyone has a crazy holiday to-do list. Why do we do this to ourselves? I know I’m not alone in this. Why do we try to cram it all in to fewer than two weeks a year? We can see great grandma on a random Tuesday, participate in the community stuff another time, and fly home to visit grandparents a week out of the year that everyone isn’t already insanely busy anyway.  

I’m vowing to keep it simple this year. I’m going to do less instead of more.

Decorate the house, spend focused time with my husband and kid, pick and choose what we participate in, teach my son the true meaning of the holiday season, and make memories that are full of happiness, excitement and joy instead of letting stress, confusion and worry take over my mind. Will I miss the people we don’t see this year and the get-togethers we probably won’t make it to? Absolutely. But they’ll find me knocking on their door in a couple of months with two kids and a dog in tow, less stressed, happier, and with a lot less on my plate. I’m very much looking forward to actually spending quality time with everyone at a different point in the year instead of watching the clock wondering when I need to bounce in order to get to the next thing on my holiday to-do list. 

If you normally let the stress and chaos of the holidays consume you, try changing things up this year with a simple “no.” Let’s enjoy this next month and a half instead of dragging our feet over it! Try not to let the busyness and stress of the holidays get to you. Littles aren’t little forever and the best gift of all is time, and this year I plan to be more intentional with how I spend mine. 

Happy holidays!


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