May I please address the elephant in the room? Most of us have way too much “stuff” in our lives, in our homes, our closets, our drawers, even in our cars. We rarely tell ourselves “no” to that latest thing that has caught our eye. If we’re lucky we have many friends who are generous, so every time an important day pops up in our lives, we can expect to get another bottle of wine, or one more candle. Sometimes we might even end up with that coffee table book we’ve wanted for so long. Whatever it is, we end up with an abundance of “stuff” over the holidays, and we also end up gifting our fair share. We stress and panic standing at the stores, scanning the horizon of “holiday” themed items wondering what to get for whom, wracking our brains trying to recall whether or not they already have that book, or if they like floral, or musk scented candles? All this stress and anxiety can cause us to feel anything but joyful.
So what to do? How do we bust the mounting stress of the holiday season, as we find ourselves with only two days of Christmas shopping left. What can we do to help make it a time once again of enjoying good company, celebrating our blessings, and taking time off from the day in day out grind that is life?? Where is that happy medium if you’re a Christmas enthusiast, like me, but are seriously tapped out on the giving pressures of the season? What do you do, if like my husband and me, who are, strangely, as we get older, have a circle of people we love and want to be generous toward that is growing rather than shrinking???
Well I’ll tell you how I began managing this time of year much better as my giving list got longer, and longer.
I/we did some soul searching about what mattered to us on a charitable level, where we wanted to put our hard-earned money during the holiday season rather than how many bottles of wine our wine fridge could hold until they all got handed out. Once we came up with our criteria we researched local charities that matched them. The most important thing for us was that the money we would be donating needed to go directly to the people the charity was collecting the funds for. Meaning, we didn’t want any CEO’s making hundreds of thousands of dollars, in a marble office, and handing over a measly 25% to the charity. We were looking for at least an 80% (minimum) being used for the people the charity said it was supporting. Once we vetted that, we began to do another “old fashioned” thing, which is a sure-fire way to get you in the true holiday spirit, especially if you combine this task with some egg nog, or wine, whatever warms your heart. I began to order Christmas cards, but, I also added hand written notes on them. Notes specific for the person who would be receiving it. I didn’t want our cards to only have the stamped; “Happy Holidays” business on them, I took the time to let people know that I was thinking only of them while I wrote their card.
You see, in our busy, crazy world the one thing everybody could use more of is time. Which in my mind makes time one of the most precious gifts we can receive? So, if it is so precious and we all agree that it is, imagine how wonderful it feels for your friend to rip open your Christmas card and see, that not only did you remember them during the holidays, but you also took the time to let them know that you did? Trust me, a handwritten note, that accompanies a holiday card that lets them know that in lieu of giving out any more candles, you’ve instead given to people in need over the holidays will bring them way more joy, and help set their heart right for the holidays than any bottle of wine ever could. Everybody likes to know that they matter to us, and we all want to be the change we want to see in the world. Why not consider changing it up this year and turn your Christmas stress into Christmas Impress by putting the focus of the season back on the reason for the season, which is to bring joy not only to others, but more importantly to yourself. So, with only two shopping days left before the big day arrives, might I suggest that you google some local charities, see if there is one that resonates with you, and give to those who truly are in need rather than to those in your life who truly don’t need another pair of socks, or candle. And in doing this, you take the stress and pressure off yourself, by not having to wade through a bunch of other last minute shoppers who are all in the same exact boat as you. Freaking out trying to find something, anything that will be different than the last ten gifts you gave. Good luck, and happy stress free final days of Christmas time.