5 Ways to Rest During the Holidays

I have a new problem with the phrase “slow as Christmas.” I understand that when you’re a child Christmas takes forever to arrive, but I think it’s safe to say it flies by for those of us over the age of 12. 

I swear it was October 1st like 3 hours ago, and we were all freaking out over pumpkin spiced lattes and taking pictures of our boots sprinkled with leaves, and now look at us. In just a few short days we have to take down all the lights and garland and go back to normal life where houses don’t twinkle at night and my home doesn’t smell like I live in a wintery forest high in the mountains of Scandinavia. 

With all the last-minute shopping, frantic wrapping (and rewrapping when I cut the paper too short), Dirty Santa party attending and praline making, I feel like every year the holidays are over before I even get to enjoy them. But not this year. This year, I am trying to be intentional about relaxing, resting and actually acknowledging my favorite time of year before it passes by yet again (even if it took me until the week before its arrival to do so). 

I’ve come up with 5 things to do and not do in order to rest – really rest – this holiday season.

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1. Don’t Build a Gingerbread House

Ingredients: 
1 gingerbread house kit
1 garbage can

Ok, if you really like building gingerbread houses, you can skip this one, but man, those things are straight from Satan. In this step, “building a gingerbread house” is actually a blanket statement intended to encompass all of those holiday traditions we do because we feel like we’re supposed to but we actually don’t enjoy at all. 

I used to feel like I had to build a gingerbread house every Christmas and pretend it was fun, because it was supposedly such a festive, jolly activity, but here’s the truth: It’s not fun for me. It does not bring me joy. It’s sticky and messy and frustrating and I always end up eating too much icing and getting a headache. So I’m not building one, and I’m finding so much delight in knowing that I don’t have to. 

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2. Do Something Nice for Someone

Ingredients:
1 honey-baked ham

One weeknight last Christmas I was in a terrible mood. It was just a few days before Christmas and I was throwing a fit in my living room about how I hadn’t even had a chance to enjoy the holidays yet because I had been so busy. My husband suggested we watch a Christmas movie, and I snapped back at him that I didn’t have time. He left the living room, and when he came back he was holding a honey-baked ham.

“What do you want me to do with that?” I said to him in the most irritable of tones. 

“Come on,” he said. “We’re taking it to the neighbors. Someone at work gave it to me, and we don’t really need it.”

“Can’t you just take it?” I said, looking down at my list of things I had planned to accomplish that day. 

“No, I think you need to come with me,” he said as he put on his coat. “Let’s go.”

So we walked over to our neighbor’s house and delivered the honey-baked ham. They were so appreciative and said the kindest words of thanks, and according to my husband I “skipped” the entire way home. "We should watch a Christmas movie,” I said as we walked back into our driveway. He rolled his eyes. 

Doing something nice for someone else, even if it’s not a huge sacrifice for you, can make you feel so much better about the holidays. It sounds counterproductive to add one more thing to get done during the busiest time of year, but in my experience, it always brings me back to what the season is really about.

3. Don’t Read/Watch the News

Ingredients:
Self-control

Typically, I am a strong proponent of staying informed on what’s going on in the news, locally, nationally and internationally. As a former news reporter, it drives me crazy when people make irresponsible and uneducated posts on social media (I’m mainly looking at you, Facebook) about a topic they clearly haven’t bothered to research.  But – lately, the news makes me stressed and overwhelmed and a little rashy. A lot of it is over my head, and I feel helpless and like I have no power to change anything. These are not positive feelings. This is not how I want to spend my Christmas. 

So I’m taking a few days off from reading news articles – specifically anything out of Washington. Just until after the holidays. Instead, I’m going to spend that time reading a fiction novel or watching The Grinch for the 10,679th time. Because I still laugh every time his echo yells back at him, and that makes my heart light. 

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4. Do Drive Around and Look at Christmas Lights

Ingredients:
1 motorized vehicle
1 cup of hot chocolate per person in said vehicle
1 90’s greatest hits playlist - Christmas edition

Most of us would agree this is or sounds like a carefree holiday activity, but how many of us actually get off the couch, put our phones away and cruise through nearby neighborhoods singing/shouting Mariah Carey at the top of our lungs? Of all the Christmas activities, this is my absolute favorite, but it does require a bit of intentionality. You have to actually decide that you are not going to be productive for a night. You are not going to wrap any presents or clean your house or check anything off your to-do list. You are going to forget about the never-ending list and instead simply gaze at the sparkling lights and let your mind wander. Because this is that one special time of year where adults are still whimsical and fun and selfless. Selfless because they spend time adorning their own homes with lights, purely for passers-by to enjoy. For you to enjoy So go enjoy it.

5. Don’t Try to Please Everyone

Ingredients:
1 ability to not give a sh*t

I know you want to give every person you’ve met the most thoughtful gift they’ll ever receive, and I know you want your house to look like a five-star resort when your in-laws come to visit, and I know you’d like to be the superhero who brings three casseroles AND two desserts to the party…

but what if you didn’t? 

What if you only bought gifts for the people who matter most to you and you just got them things you thought they might enjoy? What if you left your house exactly as is and your in-laws discovered people actually lived there? What if you just picked up a side dish from a local restaurant to bring to the party? Would the world keep spinning? Would Christmas still come? 

It would.

I promise it would.

You do not have to be all things to all people this Christmas… or ever but that’s a whole ‘nother post.  This is new to me too, but it’s ok to say “no” sometimes. To not attend every event you’re invited to. To throw a gift in a re-used bag instead of hand-wrapping it. To leave the party early just because you’re tired. It’s ok. In fact, it’s healthy. And as awful as it might feel to say “no,” you’ll be much happier and much more rested this holiday season if you do.

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What are your favorite ways to rest during the holidays? Let me know if the comments. Or don’t. Because that’s ok too.