This Holiday, Just Say No

Every year I have to remind myself again that the most memorable events of the holiday season are the simplest.  Why do I need to complicate it, or get so busy that I don't have time or energy to savor the things that make me happy?

For a more satisfying holiday season, don't forget to say NO.

snowy tree

10 holiday no-no's

1.  Just say no to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other forced shopping situations.

I feel more pressure to purchase when something is on sale, even if it's not exactly what I want.  Really, if the best thing about something is the price, is it worth it?

2.  Just say no to new holiday d├ęcor.

I know the Christmas Village dinnerware is festive, and so is that cute Nutcracker doormat.  New holiday gear is always tempting, since retailers need us to buy every year to preserve their profits.  But take a look at what you already have.  Is it enough?  If there's plenty, but you still want more, think about what's making you so dissatisfied.  I have enough, and I'd rather feel contented with what I have than focused on something I think I'm missing.

3.  Just say no to the mall and the big box stores.

Why risk road rage in the parking lot and tired, frustrated shoppers and workers?  Visit the small locally owned shops.  I live in a bountiful agricultural area, so it's easy to buy locally grown nuts, dried fruits, honey, olives and olive oil, wine, and organic wild rice.  I love to give books, and a local independent book store sells quality used books along with brand new bestsellers.  In the museum gift shop, I might buy a pack of handmade greeting cards or a pair of earrings created by a local artist.  In the yarn shop I find soft washable wool to crochet a scarf or hat.

I can choose experience gifts too:
  • tickets to a play at the community theater
  • a gift certificate for a massage or facial at the day spa
  • a movie theater gift card
  • tickets for the local escape room
  • a gift card from a favorite restaurant

4.  Just say no to spoiling the kids.

Your child will benefit from fewer toys in so many ways.  In fact, when I see the toys most kids are drowning in, it almost feels like child abuse to me.  Don't believe it?  Check out this article by Joshua Becker and see if you're not convinced.  We give gifts in order to show love, so let's not give in a way that might actually be detrimental.

Give a few items that encourage learning, cooperation, and creativity, such as:
  • books
  • toys for pretending, like dishes and cookware, a doctor kit, dolls and stuffed animals, or dress-up clothes
  • building sets, like wooden trains, Duplos, Legos, or Magna-Tiles
  • tools for exploration, like field guides, binoculars, or seeds and child-size gardening tools
  • sports or camping equipment
  • art supplies
  • sewing or knitting/crochet supplies
  • a musical instrument
  • a board or card game

5.  Just say no to holiday competition.

Does your house need to be draped with the most lights on the block?  Does the pile of gifts under your tree need to be larger than last year?  Are you a contestant for Most Homemade Cookies or Most Lavish Holiday Outfit?  Who are you competing with?  You are enough.  I am enough.  There's no prize for holiday overspending and overwhelm.

6.  Just say no to over-committing.

Holiday parties and concerts and outings are fun, but they quickly become less than special when you're going every night or every weekend.  When you have a constant string of errands to perform and pageant costumes to sew and a canned food drive to organize, something will have to give.  Losing sleep and skimping on self-care will sap your energy very quickly.  

Please don't put yourself in a position where you're just trying to survive the holiday season.  Limit your commitments so you can be joyfully present at each one.  You do enough.  I do enough.  Let's focus on activities that have the most meaning for us, and leave out the rest.

7.  Just say no to overeating and overdrinking.

I'm not hungrier on a holiday than on any other day, so why should I pile my plate full of food and take seconds and even thirds?  Scale down the holiday meals and parties.  You'll save money, waste less food, and be more inclined to savor and enjoy your favorite foods when you're not gorging on them.  More importantly, you'll be more available to the people you love and you won't feel regret at the end of the day.

8.  Just say no to negative talk.

You don't have to moan about how much you have to do or how high January's credit card bill is going to be.  You can choose to lower the pace and the cost of the season.

9.  Just say no to drama.

We have so many expectations for this season of the year, so much nostalgia, so much riding on feeling "the holiday spirit."  Sometimes we push too hard.  And then when something doesn't go just right, or when someone doesn't flow with our plans, we're extra disappointed.  I think this contributes to unpleasantness that sometimes occurs, especially at family parties.  

So take a deep breath.  You can choose peace, patience, and compassion.  You can accept imperfection.  Following the other suggestions in this post can help make it possible.

10.  Just say no to living on autopilot.

Pay attention to what your senses are telling you.  Notice and enjoy the scents of wood smoke and fir trees, the sounds of laughter and carolers, the sights of fresh snow and twinkling lights, the feel of a warm scarf or your loved one's arms, and the tastes of spiced cider and Grandma's walnut pie.  Perhaps you'll realize that you already have more than enough reasons to celebrate.

Updated November 2022


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