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I was selfish, but I learned to change

Last week, I talked in the blog about dealing with the overwhelm and stress that can happen during the holiday season. For me, the holidays are so important. They represent love, family, and togetherness in my mind. I love shopping for gifts, finding the perfect thing for each person, and seeing their faces when they open them. It’s a serious business for me. I start shopping early in the year and I’m usually done before Thanksgiving. I spread the cost out over the whole year and when the holidays come around, I have something for everyone. It sounds organized and maybe a little over the top.


Imagine though being someone who is in my family, who doesn’t feel the same way. Who only wants to buy gifts for the people they are with? Who doesn’t want to have to deal with mailing packages and all the planning that goes into getting ready for cards, gifts, etc.? For them, my style of planning and preparing is overwhelming. It stresses them out, and it makes them feel like they must buy a gift for me because I bought one for them. It’s an added expense in an already expensive season. I know this about myself and some of my family members. I used to buy them gifts.


Now, early in the year, I send out an email to help plan for the upcoming year. I ask what they are planning for the holidays and we coordinate for when we will be together and when we won’t. If we’re not together, we only send gifts for the kids. It reduces costs and stress for everyone.


I’ll admit, the first time I didn’t send everyone a gift, I was a little put out on the inside. I didn’t share my feelings with them because they were my feelings. I knew it wasn’t fair to put that on them. Over time, my feelings changed. It was a selfish move on my part to expect them to share my need for Christmas excess.


My love of the season still exists, and I still love to find the perfect gift, but it’s secondary to having time with the people I love. I have found a great deal of joy in simplifying my holidays and focusing on the things that are truly important. Now, I have a plan and it helps me to keep things simple for myself and my loved ones.


Some techniques you can use to plan for simplicity during your holidays are:

  • Make a list of the events you have on the calendar and work with your family to pick the ones everyone wants to participate in

  • If you are bringing food to an event, prepare it in advance so that you can grab it and go on the day of the event

  • In the months or weeks leading up to the holidays, purchase gifts for the people you know you will be celebrating with. Be ready in advance.

  • Have some extra gift cards on hand in case you’ve forgotten someone or something comes up last minute. I like to have Starbucks and Target gift cards on hand because they work for almost everyone.

  • Say no to last-minute events that will cause you more stress than joy

  • When you decorate, keep it simple, you don’t have to put a ton of decorations out to feel festive in your home – quality over quantity

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Christy Zuehl

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