Have Yourself a Merry Little Holiday

I don't know about "merry," and I don't know about "little," but the holidays can be a crazy time, that's for sure.  Up till 2:00 a.m. wrapping gifts?  Squeezing in extra rehearsals for the Christmas program?  Eating way too many cookies because you missed dinner – again?  Sure, we've all done it.  The holidays can inspire a feeling of overwhelm, the fear of missing out, and the frantic pursuit of perfection.  We fight traffic, crowds, and our own feelings of inadequacy.

handmade holiday ornaments

Holiday celebrations have become a juggernaut...

... a large, overpowering force requiring blind devotion and sacrifice.  When you consider opting out of any of the endless activities available, you feel like a Scrooge.  When you jump in with both feet, you feel like a leaf caught in a whirlwind.  Forget any notions of balance.

It doesn't help that advertising plays on our nostalgia for a holiday complete with a loving family and friends, surprise packages heaped under a gorgeous tree, cozy evenings by the fire, carolers singing, bells ringing, and colored lights aglow.  

But maybe by the fifth or sixth holiday party you realize you're exhausted and not having fun anymore.  Maybe your kid's meltdown at the mall (or on Christmas morning surrounded by a mountain of gifts and a houseful of relatives) lets you know you've pushed too hard and expected too much.  Maybe it's the credit card bill that jolts you into awareness of serious overspending.  Maybe your wakeup call happens when you step on the scale on January 2nd.  

Suddenly it's clear.  Going for a larger-than-life holiday, you've created an experience that has left you tired, stressed, dissatisfied, in debt, and fat.

Many arguments can be made that the overstuffed American holiday is an environmental disaster.  And it's true that the cost of yet another silk tie for Dad will feed and educate an Ethiopian child for a month.  Those are excellent reasons to scale back.  

But why not ease off for the sake of more joy?  Wouldn't you prefer a merry little holiday and a chance to forget your troubles, at least for a little while?  I'm tired of feeling cheated by Christmas – so rushed, so busy, so expensive, and so very empty.

That's why I wrote my book, A Minimalist Holiday: Simplify Your Celebration for More Meaning and Joy.*  It's full of practical strategies to help you focus on what you value about this season.  This revised and expanded edition can be your guide to remove clutter and prepare your home for Christmas, budget money and time for maximum satisfaction, deal gracefully with difficult relationships and sad memories, discover that the most wonderful parts of the season have nothing to do with gifts, and much more. 

* This blog is reader-supported.  If you buy through my links, I may earn a small commission.

P. S.  I plan to donate half of my November royalties to World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization helping children, families, and communities around the world overcome poverty and injustice.

Updated June 2023


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