Experiencing the holidays as an adult does not feel the same as experiencing the holidays as a child. Remember when you were a kid and Christmas was still magical? When the biggest worry on your mind was if you could make it to the big day without busting at the seams with excitement. When gifts were thoughtful, not car-payment-expensive. When you stayed up as late as you could, just to see if you could catch a glimpse of "the big guy" leaving your goodies. Those were the days, huh? Well, they don't have to be in the past. You can create those same feelings today. That magic is not gone, you just need to find it.
In order to find your magic, you have to find what brings you joy, then, do it. Sounds easy enough, right? What makes you smile? What makes you feel like the kid you used to be? For some it might be spending time, laughing with their favorite people (or animals). For others, it might be their alone time they spend curled up with a fuzzy blanket and a good book. No matter what your joy is, find it and do it often. There is no right or wrong answer here.
Think back to when you were a child; the sights and sounds and smells of the holiday season enchanted you with their magic simply by existing. The shiny bows, the smell of evergreen in the air, the twinkling lights, the holiday tunes on the radio, the scent of freshly baked (or burnt) cookies, weaving their spell as they waft through the air... THAT is the magic!
All the extra stuff is so unnecessary. All the stress of buying and wrapping and visiting and baking and shopping and being on time and remembering and rushing and hurrying... and for what? To come to the end of the holiday season broke, out of energy (physically and emotionally), sad and disappointed with lots of regret and hurt feelings? Yeah, no thanks!
Life is hard enough, don't make it worse by setting unrealistic benchmarks you know you can never meet. If you have three kids and a two hundred dollar budget, each kid will not be getting the newest Game Station 360... or whatever the new thing is. And that's OK! There are zero confirmed instances of a child dying or suffering permanent damage because they did not get the newest, bestest, most shiniest whatever on the market. Do what you can with what you have and it will all be OK. Read that again. IT WILL ALL BE OK. It always is.
No one should have to go in debt to prove to their loved ones that they are loved. I promise you, your grandmother is not keeping a list of who gave what and how much it cost... but if your tail isn't in that chair for Christmas dinner, you can best believe she will remember that! Let your presence be your presents.
Most of the holiday stress we all complain about is self-imposed. Think about it. Other than being on time to parties and gatherings, there are NO RULES. No one says you even have to buy gifts. Maybe, instead of physical gifts, you give of your time. Give from your heart, not your wallet. I would bet my last dollar your girlfriend would appreciate your offer to sit with her kids while she got a few minutes of peace to herself wayyy more than that pumpkin spice candle you were about to give her.
The holidays do not have to suck the life right out of you. With a few ideas and a whole lot of letting-go of your preconceived notions about how the holidays are supposed to go, I can show you how the holidays can suck the life right back into you..... wait.... what the hell did I just say? Whatever. Work with me... Just do a few of these things I am going to list below, hold a door open for an old lady at the store, smile at a stranger (or two, but not for long, then it gets weird), pay off someone's fines at the library... go out and make the magic that you so want to believe in. It is all around you, everywhere, if you just look for it.
Here are a few ideas that you can implement starting today, right now, from the comfort of your own (insert place where you currently are here), and a few more that may require you to wear pants and leave the house.
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