I’m Dreaming of a Calm Christmas

December 8, 2011 2 Comments

In case you haven’t noticed, we are officially in the holiday season. There are only 16 more shopping days until Christmas. There are cookies to bake, parties to plan, gifts to buy, gifts to make.

My stress level is usually running really high this time of year. I’m never good at planning ahead. I save my shopping until the last minute, put pressure on myself to create perfect moments, beautiful cookies, and lots of happy holiday memories that my children will cherish their whole lives.

But this year I don’t feel stressed. Seriously. What am I doing differently?

This year I am choosing to focus on the experiences instead of the materials.

One tradition that is helping me focus on the joy of the holiday experiences is our activity advent box. I started this tradition with my children two years ago. The advent box is one of my very favorite holiday traditions because it is all about the experiences.

Activity Advent Calendar

Every day I put a small slip of paper, along with 2 Hershey Kisses, into that day’s box. The slip of paper contains an activity for the day. Sometimes the activities are very simple, like make a simple Christmas craft or watching Charlie Brown Christmas. Other days the activities are more complex, like putting lights up on our house or going to get our Christmas tree.

Advent Activity Day 1

Admittedly, these are things that we would do anyway. But somehow, by having them in the advent box, the activities, events, and moments are celebrated more.

I will never forget my son’s face the first year we did the activity box and he opened the box that said “Go get a Christmas Tree”. Pure, unadulterated joy and excitement. And frankly, that is what I want for my children. I want them to enjoy the moments, to celebrate the traditions, to get excited about everything that goes into the holiday, not just waking up on Christmas morning and opening presents.

Our advent activity box is a wonderful way for me to slow down a bit and really enjoy everything this holiday season. Mostly, it offers me the chance to make a choice; to choose to enjoy the holidays, to enjoy each moment, instead of allowing the holidays to run me.

I still have a big to-do list. I’ll be baking, shopping, decorating, going to parties. But this year I’m making the choice to enjoy the moments. I will see the blessing in spending time with family and friends. I will feel the joy my children feel when we light our Christmas tree. I will savor the smell of cookies baking, the sweet taste of sugar and flour baked to delectable perfection.

It really is a simple choice. I could choose to get stressed out, to drive frantically from store to store buying gifts, to swear at the bowls stacked in my sink, to think about the high electric bill from the colored lights on our porch. But really, who wants that?

It can be a stressful time of year. I don’t contest that. But each of us always has control over how we face it. Every day we have the power to choose.

I have to buy a gift for my in-laws. A choice — stress or generosity? I have to organize my son’s class holiday party. A choice — stress or gratitude in being able to watch the children have a fun filled afternoon?

It really is as simple as making a choice. There will be moments when the stress creeps in, and you might feel like yelling “this doesn’t feel like a choice!!!” But let that serve as your reminder. Or maybe a clue to slow down and enjoy a cup of tea before starting the next task.

I want to truly enjoy the magic of the holidays. So this year I choose calm. I choose joy. I choose to see with my children’s open-eyed wonder and shriek with delight at every Christmas light we pass.

What do you choose?

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  1. Becky says:

    Love this Kelly! I am also having a much better time this Christmas due to focusing on the activities. But I LOVE the idea of combining the advent calendar and activities! Where did you get that adorable advent box? Opening the little boxes each day would make any simple activity even more special PLUS it would keep me organized and on track as well.

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