While I love the holiday season for it’s family closeness and feelings of giving, I also loathe this beast of a holiday. From the way the Christmas season starts earlier and earlier every year, to the fact that it almost exclusively revolves around presents are both turn offs. Sprinkle in the propensity for people to act like raging jerk bags for a savings and I am darn near turning into a Bah Humbug by noon. The only thing saving me some days is my peppermint mocha deliciousness in a mug. Certainly in this modern day we can find a balance during the holiday season. Who says we cannot enjoy the inner namaste of giving, while still making sure we see those smiles on our kids faces because their parents rock at gift giving. This holiday season, find your balance, eat your carbs AND do your yoga! All while enjoying that peppermint mocha, or whatever tickles your taste buds.
We all feel the tightness in the chest, and quickening of the breathing, when we see that red bucket dangling in front of every store we enter during the holiday season. Do you whip out your cell phone and pretend to be making Wall Street deals while walking past the bell ringer? Perhaps you dig out some loose change or a dollar bill, or at least pretend to look for one, and walk in feeling as though you have done your part. Whatever the case may be, there are plenty of options for giving back to your community without making you feel as though your purse strings are pulled so tight they will break. One thing I do every year with my children is have them go through their toys and clothes weeks before Christmas. We have two piles, donate and throw away. The items to be donated are cleaned up to be as good as can be, packed up and donated. The rest are gotten rid of as well, all of which clears out room for the incoming presents, hopefully less than what went out the front door.
Another good option, especially for those with younger children, is to donate to an organization like Toys For Tots. A fun, family activity is going shopping for a toy, or toys, to donate. Set a price limit and let the children go shopping for a those kids less fortunate. Bringing the toys to the donation box and sharing the story of how these toys will be distributed to kids who may or may not have anything for Christmas is a great way to reinforce the giving selflessly lesson. Also, some malls have programs in which you choose the name of a child from a tree, and there is a list of things the child wants, or needs. These can be a little more pricey, so remember to choose what works best for your family’s budget.
Now, about these Christmas lists your kids have handed you. I mean do they KNOW the iPhone7 has no headphone jack, I mean really. I kid, I kid…kind of. Just because your child has placed an item on their wish list does not mean you HAVE to provide it. I like to play my own version of Let’s Make A Deal with my kids, especially the older two, who are 12 and 14. The little one is much easier, she is 5. I simply take her shopping and play up the things I would like to get her, and have her sisters point out the down sides of anything on her list which are just not happening. Where there is a will, there is a way. Parents know their children better than anyone. Look at those lists and figure out what can and what cannot happen. Keep your sanity, your children will understand. Trust me, I know things.
The last piece of business is one that I have yet to tackle. Why the actual heck are we seeing Christmas decorations before we have even fisinshed with the Halloween costumes?! What kind of debauchery is the retail business up to that we see this stuff earlier and earlier every year? Also, can someone please explain to me how Black Friday can start on THANKSGIVING THURSDAY?!?! I refuse, just absolutely refuse to partake in this, and I believe everyone else should as well. Show the retail giants that we value our home time, and they should value their employees enough to let them have their family time as well. Attica! Attica! No, really though, if we as consumers refuse to partake it will become monetarily imprudent for the stores to open on Thursday.
Take back the power of the holiday, and enjoy everything the season has to offer, on your own terms. Enjoy the time with family, friends. Stay within a set budget to avoid unnecessary financial stress that lasts several holiday seasons later. Do not allow big business to continue to over commercialize the holiday season, overworking people and degrading the joy this season offers. Tame those tantrums by setting realistic wishes with your children, and by encouraging the joy of giving. These simple things can reduce your holiday stess and increase your holiday joy and happiness.