Five Ways to Simplify the Holiday Season This Year


Before you read any further, let me go ahead and let you know that I am aware I am running the risk of alienating many of you with this post. I love you, I see you, I hear you…..but you guys need to slow your roll a bit. You are stressing the rest of us with your over the top merry and unattainable #Christmasgoals. Your inability to follow a calendar causes me great concern and I feel as if I need to create a master class to help remind us all how this works. Yep, you know who you are don’t you….you can feel that I’m talking about you…..it’s all of you in the pre-Thanksgiving Christmas decorating club. #soextra


As if our world doesn’t move at a fast enough pace….who decided that the Christmas season begins on November 1st now? Do we celebrate Easter in January? Valentine’s Day on New Year’s Eve? 4th of July in June? Of course not….that would be absurd….but Christmas trees up in early November?? Is this just one more doing of the Hallmark channel? Once those movies start rolling you just can’t help yourself?? I know, I know….your Christmas cheer just turned to rage with me….but before you label me as a Scrooge…keep reading.


You know what suffers the greatest loss in all of this? Thanksgiving….the most neglected of all the holidays. Let me show my age and be one of THOSE people who talks about the good ole days. Long ago (when I was a child) stores would not have dreamed of opening on Thanksgiving Day. There was no talk of shopping ON Thanksgiving. The day was spent eating, lounging, watching parades and football, eating and lounging some more. We may have spent some time outlining Christmas wish lists or even perusing the Friday advertisements and developing a game plan for weekend shopping. But we did so in the comfort of our homes still decorated with turkeys, pumpkins, horns of plenty and fall décor. The Christmas season sat where it belonged….AFTER Thanksgiving. It was a relaxing and most needed day as a gear up for the chaos that was to ensue in the short days to follow. A calm before the storm if you will.



I hope you realize that I’m being a bit tongue-in-cheek…to each his own when you choose to decorate and how you celebrate…but I do want to use this as a reminder to all of us of our societal need to SLOW DOWN and WAIT for things sometimes. And for me, Thanksgiving Day is the perfect day to pause, reflect, give thanks and plan for the season to come. It’s also the day to reflect on the many blessings we’ve been given throughout the year. I hope each of us will take the time to do that. (I literally just took a deep breath….lol!).


For those of you with your trees up and your shopping done…this might be the end of the blog for you. You are the people who ENJOY the busy and the pressure. It gives you energy and fulfillment. God made us all different, I am a big fan of that fact. We love you all so much and appreciate greatly the beauty and fun you supply for all of us. But for those of you who want to pull the cover over your head and come back out December 26th….you might want to keep reading. I’m afraid I relate a little too much to that camp. SIGH.


I am vowing that this year I will take back the joy that used to be Christmas for me! I will not allow things to get so complicated that I lose all sense of what the season should be about. With this thought in mind I created a list and I’m happy to share it with you.



Here are my five tips for simplifying the holidays this year.

1) Change my perspective. We’ve all heard it said, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” but what if we really operated as if that were true? What if, instead of focusing on the gifts, the decorations, the food, the parties, and the obligations, we spent 25 days turning the majority of our focus to Jesus. How might the season look different for us? When you feel yourself begin to get that “frazzled” feeling this year….take a moment, take a breath and turn your focus to the gift of the Savior of the World in the form of a baby. I’ll almost guarantee you that you’ll feel better immediately.




2) Set some realistic goals. What is it that you actually want out of the holiday season this year? Do you want to spend quality time with people you love? Make a plan to make it happen. Do you want to give amazing gifts? Make a list and go find those things. Do you want to spend an evening looking at lights or enjoying a Christmas movie? Put it on the calendar. Figure out what your goals are and make a plan right now to reach them one step at a time. And don’t miss the word REALISTIC. Unmet expectations are the source of resentment. Pre-planning and setting goals can save us all some heartache along the way.


3) Let go of perfection. One of my new favorite podcasters says, “Waiting for perfection is just a form of procrastination”. Far too often we miss out on doing things we would love to do because we want them to be executed with perfection. Is one of your goals to have some friends over for a holiday event? Do it without worrying about how clean the house is or what the menu will be. They will be happy just to spend time with you and all of the other things become secondary. Put out the mismatched decorations that hold sentimental value to you even if they don’t create a landscape that would grace the cover of Southern Living magazine. Don’t have the money to give expensive gifts? Take the time to write a letter that expresses what the person means to you and wrap it in a beautiful box or frame your favorite picture of time spent with them. I promise it will be more valuable to them than the Hope diamond if it comes from your heart. Perfection is overrated….and unattainable.


4) Don’t overschedule. Our days still only hold 24 hours in the month of December. Don’t fill them so full you can’t enjoy any of them. Unfortunately, this month will likely call for choices from many of us….and even choices that might result in disappointment for others. But, you can only do what you can do. Remember, “no” is a complete sentence. Fill your time with the things you WANT to do and physically CAN do….and let go of the other things. Make good choices.


5) Stay present. Far too often we get so distracted by things going on around us that we fail to stay present. I can tell you that I wish I had held on to so many moments that I didn’t even realize were precious to me at the time. Maybe allowing my kids more time to play on Christmas morning rather than rushing them out the door to the next family gathering? Maybe letting them help me decorate the tree or the cookies rather than trying to replicate a Pinterest board? Maybe donating more of our time and resources to people who will never know the joy of opening multiple gifts or overeating during a holiday party? Whatever choices you and your family make this year….be there for them. (And maybe even unplug from technology for a while and share in real experiences with real people for a few moments!).



Finally, let me remind all of us that for every one of us who loves the Christmas season, there is someone who struggles to get through it because of losses or other difficulties in her life. Let’s be sensitive to that and look for those opportunities to spread love and joy to some very dark places this year.


I feel better already and I hope you do too! Christmas truly can be the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year!” but only if we slow down and allow it to be.


I will be taking some time off from blog writing to enjoy my time with friends and family during the month of December. But I pray you all have an incredible Thanksgiving and a very Merry Christmas. See you in January!!

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© 2019 by Stephani Cook.

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