Make a list of the holidays you celebrate annually. Besides each entry, write down what each holiday means to you. For example, Thanksgiving may mean organizing a big potluck dinner for friends who don't have anyplace else to go. Next, make another list of holidays with columns entitled "Joyful Activities" and "Stressful Activities." Fill in the blanks. For example, a joyful Christmas activity might be "Sending cards," whereas a stressful activity might be "Finding perfect gifts for household help." Once the list is made, vow to maximize joy and minimize stress.
(30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 152)
OR for serious simplifiers only...
For one year, as each holiday approaches, choose one celebratory activity. For example, for Christmas, just send cards, or make a wreath, or decorate a tree. Fully experience one aspect of each holiday --- and ignore you least favorite holidays completely. To simplify gift giving for one year, give the same gift to everyone on your list or send a card. Get out of the loop for one year.
(30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 155)
Holidays --- I love 'em. Here are some photos from the last five years. No way around it. I love everything about them. Can you tell?
I love New Year's Day and watching the Rose Parade. I love Valentine's Day and making hearts with the kids. I love St. Patrick's Day and dressing green and drinking too much beer. I love Easter and the egg hiding and finding. I love Memorial Day parades, 4th of July fireworks, dressing up for Halloween (I don't miss a year!), gathering around the table for Thanksgiving, and taping Christmas cards to my door in the days after we drag home the tree from our church's Christmas tree lot tied to Red and Tom Thumb's red wagon. I even love obscure holidays like Talk Like a Pirate Day. I don't know if I ever met a holiday I didn't like.
Now just because I like holidays doesn't mean I'm immune from the stress that accompanies Christmas. Every year I push myself to do more and more surrounding Christmas. I send out around 100 Christmas cards, we decorate the tree, we go to the city tree lighting ceremony, we celebrate St. Nicholas Day on December 6th (there are some great resources for celebrating this holiday here), we buy and ship a ton of gifts, and we make the big crazy meal on the actual day. Last year I even made figgy pudding from this recipe! This year I'm ready to take a breather, but can I actually take one? My sister Andrea has invited us to Christmas at her house this year---her non-existent house that isn't built yet. She and her husband have been planning to build this house for the last 5+ years on some property given to them by her husband's grandmother. It finally looks like this will be the year it happens and I told her if it's built we will come. I think having flexible plans will be a good excuse for me to just relax a little bit and see what happens.
In sad news, the baby bunnies are gone. We're not exactly sure what happened, but we fear the worst since the Cobbler found some blood on a leaf in the nest. I'm really sad and bummed out for the kids. I haven't told them that they're gone yet.
And poor Red has to get evaluated for some dental work next week. She's been seeing the dentist since she was three years old with great results! The hygienist even praised her brushing abilities and told her she could give lessons to older kids. Well, genetics caught up with her yesterday. At her appointment 6 months ago, the dentist said there may be some decay between two of her molars in her upper jaw but they couldn't tell since they couldn't get the bite wings in for an X ray without her gagging. They were able to finally do the X ray yesterday and the decay was there. She has to see a pediatric dentist to get it repaired. In the meantime, I have to brush her teeth. Red actually cried at the dentist and said, "I'm a baby now? I can't even brush my own teeth!??!" I felt so bad for her that I even got weepy and had a good cry while locked in the bathroom when we got home. I feel responsible as a mom too. At the appointment six months ago, the dentist suggested flossing and rinsing with mouthwash daily. I kept up with it for a few months, but then didn't insist upon it. The dentist asked me if she uses sippy cups (no) or eats sticky sweet foods (yes, we gave her a lot of jelly beans while we were working with Tom Thumb on the finer details of potty training since he was getting them). I definitely had a bad mom moment. After talking to a few of my friends and realizing I'm not the only one with a kid who has teeth problems, I felt a little better. I've never had a cavity in my life, but the Cobbler's teeth aren't so hot and the rest of my entire family (my mom and my sisters) have all had a TON of dental work. I just need to buckle down, do what I can do (yes, we will be flossing and rinsing nightly from now on) and let the rest go. I need to apply that philosophy to other areas of my life too.