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How’s your to-do list this week?
It seems like once we reach the Rehearsing RetirementTM stage, our to-do list should be shorter, but often, it isn’t. We do this to ourselves, you know. In addition to our normal, busy lives, we add on:
- Decorate house
- Do Christmas baking
- Shop for & cook special holiday meals
- Mail Christmas cards
- Attend holiday events
- Purchase, wrap (and sometimes ship) Christmas gifts
“There are only six items listed there,” you say, “and two of them are cooking. We have to eat; right? Besides, it’s Christmas. It wouldn’t be Christmas without…”
In reality, each of the listed items takes time, energy and money. Ask yourself; does all of this lead to more joy? Or, an even better question: does the Christmas joy you’re experiencing balance with the expense, stress and sometimes even exhaustion you put in?
Before you start calling me Mrs. Scrooge McNoorman, you need to know that I love Christmas!
I also recognize that the holidays often result in depression and anxiety rather than joy. For many, the holidays are a reminder that their lives are not as fulfilling as they would like them. Their family gatherings are more frustrating than fun, and their Christmas gift budgets are extremely limited rather than lavish. University Health News Daily reports, “The biggest cause of holiday blues is unrealistic expectations.” Instead of dwelling on the sad, let me tell you what I’m doing – or should I say, not doing – this year to avoid the stress and exhaustion.
Decorating – Other than the beautiful Christmas wreath sent by my mother, I am not decorating our house. I usually do put up at least a small tree, but I was down with a bad cold for a couple of weeks after Thanksgiving, and that put me behind. We will be in Chicago for Christmas; so it seems silly to decorate for just Greg and me. I did consider putting it up for my house-sitting niece, but her mom has one up at their house. Less work now, and less work when we get back.
Baking – My mother, sister, and nieces just completed a two-day holiday baking marathon – 2 days, 6 families & over 2000 cookies, candies and bars! (I would have joined them, but they’re in South Carolina, and I’m in Michigan!) If I were hosting the holiday celebration, I might do more baking. Instead, each of my three girls and I will contribute one baked good to our celebration. (We can do more if we want to, but there’s no pressure to do more than one.) I’m making pumpkin pie and simplified Oatmeal Carmelita bars. (To simplify the recipe, I don’t pre-bake the crust or add flour to the caramel. I also don’t add nuts, but that’s just a preference.) With everyone helping, we will have more than enough to go around.
Holiday Meals – Our middle daughter, who is hosting our family party, simplified the meal planning by posting a shopping list & menu based on our family’s traditions on Google Docs and sending the link to everyone attending. Each of us marked what we were planning to purchase and/or cook, and no one person or family gets stuck with all the work or all the expense. Win, win, win, win!
Christmas cards? Not this year… I’m doing a blog instead!
Holiday events? We’ve cut back on those too. The ones that we really want to go to, we do. And the rest? It’s a whole lot more fun to catch up with other friends and loved ones over a cup of coffee or dinner out when their schedules (and ours) are a little bit more open. (Restaurants and coffee shops appreciate the business in January and February too when they aren’t so busy.)
Our family began using Amazon Wish Lists a few years back, and it has really helped us simplify our shopping. (It’s nice to be able to choose from items that you know are wanted and/or needed and that are the desired colors or styles.) For more personal gifts, I will be busy at my sewing machine this week, but that’s also one of my favorite places to be. Because I’ve simplified our Christmas to-do list, I have the time and energy to sew!
Last winter, I joined an excellent online business book club that has resulted in friendships, business contacts, and accountability – not to mention the reading of some great books. Our last 2016 book was (Affiliate link included for your convenience.) Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. If you’d like to make 2017 a less busy and more enjoyable year, I suggest reading it and putting McKeown’s ideas into practice.
I want to say thank you so much to all my blog readers and followers! Wishing you a Merry Christmas and many blessings in 2017!
Now you know my simplified holiday secrets. What are yours?