The holiday season took me by surprise this year. I guess I was consumed with my son’s first birthday and getting other things accomplished. Nonetheless, it’s here and in full swing and I’m not really pressed. My holiday perspective changed last year with the birth of my son. I decided to give myself the gift of intention.  Actually giving some thought on how I want to spend the holiday and whom I wish to spend valuable time.  I found joy in knowing in the end it will garnish healthier relationships and a happier me.  Don’t get me wrong, Thanksgiving and Christmas are wonderful and I enjoy them but I’m no longer a victim of the hype. I was one of those in the Black Friday crowd at 4am in my twenties. The holiday has an entirely different agenda for me and now I approach them with intention and simplicity.   They are no longer centered around food and gifts but love, family, friends, and experiences. I am learning to appreciate the smaller things. This year I will have less decorations, attend select holiday parties, and participate minimal gift giving.

Holiday Decor
Every Christmas for about four years I hosted what was known as the “Peppermint Party”. I invited a group of friends, coworkers, and family. My house was fully decorated and peppermint scented everything. After years of hosting this party I collected bins and bins of peppermint stuff.  It was so ridiculous some of it had to be placed in storage.  Now, I’m on a mission to minimize and declutter my home and life. So, the holiday decorations are kept to a minimum. I ask myself does this thing bring me joy or is it meaningful? After the holiday (birthday’s too) if it does not bring me lasting joy I’m getting rid of it. I found the meaningful things were being drowned in clutter or excessive decorations. This holiday I’m purging before packing. It will make room for the new things, gifts I love, and memories I cherish the most.

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Holiday Parties & Events
While I’m a girl who loves to attend and host themed parties, I’m selective in what I attend lately. I’ve become comfortable saying no thank you. I used to love to host parties every year but I have drastically cut it in half. I was focused on what brought my family and friends joy instead of what made me happy.   Although I love bringing joy to others, I’ve realized that you can’t give, give, give, and not replenish yourself. It’s ok to decline the Christmas party from an associate or the event that conflicts with the time you would rather spend with your husband and children. I decline invitations now without apology. It doesn’t serve me or the host the party if they knew I really didn’t want to be there. This is the season of joy and happiness and why not make what I want and love priority.

Gifts
This is a sensitive topic for so many people.  When it comes to gifts, many feel a sense of obligation or guilt. We feel obligated to gift someone who has gifted us or guilt of not gifting when someone has given to us. There is also the guilt of what to do when we receive a gift that we don’t like or doesn’t serve us in anyway. Now, here’s my I’m almost 40 version of all of this. First, if someone is giving me a gift with the expectation of a gift in return, it’s not a gift. And I don’t want it. I no longer feel obligated to return a gift either. Whatever the reason, financial or I simply don’t feel the need to, I should never feel obligated or guilty.

This one is really tough for some and doesn’t happen overnight. What to do with an unwanted gift or gift that doesn’t serve you? I have come to terms with donating them or giving it to someone it does serve. Often the person who gave it to you is not checking for it and won’t remember what they gave you for Christmas last year.  When I can, I will exchange tangible gifts with experiences.  Instead of giving my girlfriend a sweater, let’s go have a mani/pedi or lunch on me.  Another way to avoid the unwanted gifts is “if” they ask you what you want….tell them! My son needed some winter pajamas for his birthday. I didn’t say a word until I was asked. If your family or friends ask, they often really want to give you what you want and want you to like it. You can also have the Christmas gift conversation in advance.   It’s common when children are involved the adults opt out of exchanging gifts. And lastly but most important, I started to accept gifts with the intention in which it was given. We often give gifts as an expression of love. If it’s a gift I don’t like or not really fitting, I remind myself that it’s not all about the thing but the action.  I no longer crave the expensive purse or pumps. I would gladly exchange them for a walk or picnic in the park with my husband and son or game night with the girls.  Also, as a person who loves to give, I had to realize it is not the only way to show someone you love them.

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This holiday I encourage you to celebrate the best way suitable for you and your family.  If you would rather stay at home with some hot chocolate and a good book, don’t feel sorry about it.  We have to remind ourselves of the true meaning of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Our lives are not promised beyond today, so live everyday with love and happiness, it’s the best gift.

Blessings,
Shee

How are you intending to spend your holiday different from last year?  Are there any things or traditions you would like to change?  Do you find it hard to make you and your family needs or wishes priority?