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When Christmas Isn't Magical

When Christmas Isn't Magical

"I hope you have a wonderful holiday!"

"Have a Merry Christmas!"

I've said, typed, and written these phrases countless times over the last few days, and I'll continue to do so over the next week. Of course I'd love for everyone to have the Best Christmas Ever. Yet every time I say, type, or write such things, I feel like something's missing. A big old "BUT."


If you don't have a wonderful holiday, that's OK, too.

If your Christmas is anything but merry, you're not alone.

I've shared the cookie recipe, the holiday meal plans, the traditions, and the decorating and entertaining tips. It's been fun. But now I want to share what's probably the most important advice of all when it comes to the holidays: CUT YOURSELF SOME SLACK.

Society puts a tremendous amount of pressure on us to have a “magical” holiday season. If you’re a parent, you probably feel pressure to create beautiful Christmas memories for your kids, to get all the right photos, and create meaningful traditions. But if your kid melts down because Santa didn't bring the right toy, or the elf forgot to move...if he/she wakes up on Christmas morning with a 104 fever...if you didn't make it to the holiday light display this year, or you didn't have the time or desire to bake any cookies…you're not alone.

If you're single, you might feel pressure to have a buzzing social calendar full of fabulous parties and events. According to the media, you should spend the holiday season glittering head to toe in "must have" looks, constantly laughing while sipping beautifully crafted cocktails with friends. But if you're sitting on the couch in your sweats, wondering if you're the only one who's not inundated with all those "last-minute cocktail party invites" that everyone on Instagram seems to be getting, you're not alone.

If you're part of a couple, you might feel pressure to be making great declarations of adoration to your significant other with expensive, heartfelt gifts, or taking adorable photographs to show the world just how in love the two of you are. But if you're second-guessing your relationship or wishing your boyfriend/husband knew that you'd much rather have a gift card to Nordstrom than a heart-shaped pendant from Kay Jewelers, you're not alone.

The pressure doesn't just surround the commercial aspects of Christmas, it affects the spiritual side, too. If you're a person of faith, you might feel pressure to have an amazing sense of closeness to God during the Christmas season, a strengthening of faith and joy, and an unending capacity to give. But if you leave your Christmas Eve service feeling less than inspired because you spent the whole hour trying to keep your baby from screaming, or you're riddled with guilt every time you bypass a ringing bell or decline the $5 donation at the register because you're completely overspent, you're not alone.

You might be lonely on Christmas, whether you're actually alone or just feeling alone in a room full of people. You might be sad. You might be ill. You might be angry. You might spend half the day battling a sense of self-loathing because of all of the cookies you ate the day before. You're not alone.

Of course, Christmas can be wonderful and magical and joyful and all those good things, but it doesn't need to be. Having a not-so-great Christmas doesn't make you a not-so-great person.

Remember, it's just one day. There will be other days. You might have a tremendous time surrounded by people you love sometime in January. You might feel closer than ever to God on a rainy Wednesday in March. You might feel that burst of adoration for your spouse on the day after Christmas, when he's lying awake with your puking kid or waiting in a long line to exchange the broken toy.

Take the pressure off, my friends. I really do hope you have a wonderful, magical, and merry Christmas. But if you don't, it's OK. You're not alone.

Christmas CAN be the most wonderful time of year, but sometimes it's just not. If you find yourself cracking under the pressure of the "perfect" Christmas, take solace in knowing that you're not alone.

This is going to be my last post of the holiday season. I'm going to spend the next two weeks organizing, relaxing, spending time with family, and working on some big posts I have planned for 2016! On that note, I welcome any feedback about what you'd like to see more of on the blog in the coming year. What areas of your life are you hoping to simplify in 2016? And even though I won't have a new post up for a while, I'll be sharing some things on Facebook, so come join us over there!

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Wednesday 7th of June 2017

The holiday season is much like contemporary weddings. Both have become so overblown, complicated and exhibitionist they have lost all meaning. Martha Stewart has a lot to answer for.


Monday 1st of February 2016

Hi! Catching up on your blog. Does it say something that it's Feb 2 and I am just reading holiday posts?? ???? Last year I made a list and asked my kids to rank the holiday "traditions" in order of importance, and was surprised how many things they really didn't care about (Cookies and cousins were still top of the chart.) It was so nice to know if we didn't make it to gingerbread houses or if the elf didn't move or bring presents (thank you over achieving friend) we were still ok. Of course this year brought a flood, flu and new puppy so we were a mess anyway. The best laid plans... Here's to the do-over and the random magic in March and May...


Monday 1st of February 2016

Ha! I feel like January was a blur, too. I was so ready to get my act together and tackle the new year, but I'm still in a bit of a post-holiday fog. :) It's so true about what the kids really care about vs. what we think they'll care about. They love the simplest things. Our favorite times were just hanging around the house, decorating the tree, and seeing friends & family. And of course the girls loved getting presents, but all but a few have been forgotten already! Your puppy is adorable - hope it's not wreaking too much havoc on the house! :) XOXO

Amanda Myers

Tuesday 5th of January 2016

Thank you so much for the truly authentic post! This is a nagging issue which has bothered me for several years. I am 38 years old, happily married with two healthy daughters. I feel pressured to wear the perfect new outfit to the endless holiday soirées, create new creative scenes for our Elf on the shelf and simultaneously provide a spiritually fulfilling, yet luxurious Christmas for my family -I am exhausted!!!! I woke up Xmas eve after hours of work, with a terrible chest cold and it ruined my entire Christmas Day. I had to keep telling myself "it's okay"! I think part of the magic of the Christmas season is reflecting on the people we love... It made me realize I am lucky to love all the special people in my life. Thank you...


Thursday 7th of January 2016

Thanks for commenting, Amanda! There's definitely tons of pressure on moms to put on the "perfect Christmas." There've been years when I felt like it was a full-time job, but one that was costing me lots of money instead of paying me!! All I can suggest is taking some time now to reflect on (and write down) what you want to do differently next year so that you don't end up so stressed next time around. I did that at the end of last year's Christmas, and it really made a difference this year. Our elf was less creative, many of my gifts were purchased over the summer, and I tried to focus on just enjoying time with family instead of scheduling a bunch of things. I was still exhausted when it was all over, but it was a good exhaustion instead of a stressed one. XO


Thursday 17th of December 2015

Amen Sista! Well said my friend!!! & with that I truly do wish you & your family a very Merry Christmas! XOXOXOXOXOXOXO


Thursday 17th of December 2015

Wonderful post! I keep thinking 'why does each holiday season seem to be more stressful than the last?' I'm usually on top of taking a holiday picture, sending out Christmas cards, making breads and cookies for neighbors, etc. This year though? I said eff it! The best part? We get a do-over every year, now don't we? :)

Happy Holidays to you and yours!


Thursday 17th of December 2015

Thanks Shelly! You're right - Christmas comes every year so we always get another chance. There were some years when I was just proud of myself for showering on Christmas morning, and other years when I managed to "do it all." Now I'm all about doing what's fun and meaningful, and letting everything else go!!

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