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Slow Down, Breathe, and Take it All In

No matter what you celebrate, this time of year has a way of taking things to a frenetic level. Most people have a bit of time off work to look forward to, but that also usually means they have to work that much harder on the days they will be in the office. Family visits are happening, so you either have guests to accommodate or travel to arrange and get through. There are gifts to be purchased, elaborate meals to be made, decorations to be hung, and a to-do list that is a mile long before kids… and just becomes that much longer after.

The holiday season is stressful. There is so much to do, so many people to see, and so many boxes that need to be checked off. And in the process of trying to do it all, most of us are guilty of forgetting to enjoy the moment.

Because that’s the thing about the holidays. For as frantic as this time of year can be, it’s also supposed to be pretty special. It’s supposed to be a time of reflection and love. An opportunity to spend some quality time with the people you care about most, to enjoy the foods you only allow yourself to splurge on a few times a year, to take in the sights, and to remember what it is to see the holidays through a child’s eyes.

How many of us really take the time to savor any of that, though?

With Christmas happening this weekend, and Hanukah kicking off as well, if there were just one gift I could give you all, it would be the motivation to slow down and really take the spirit of the season in.

That doesn’t mean giving up on all the traditions you’ve built over the years and curling up on a couch as you watch everyone else do all the work (though, if that’s an option…) Instead, it means not rushing through those traditions, and not doing anything just because you’ve always done it.

If it doesn’t bring you joy and remind you what’s so special about this season, it’s okay to drop it off the list.

But if you’ve always loved making cookies with the kids, dedicate an entire day to just that. Set aside a night to wrap presents with your partner, and pour a bottle of wine and talk as you do. Give your holiday menu a good, hard look, and don’t be afraid to cut the non-essentials off your list… and to convince your kids to start helping in the kitchen, so that the day of cooking can be a time of bonding, and not just you isolated and slaving away.

Don’t feel like you have to visit extended family if that’s no longer working for you and your immediate family… plenty of couples realize they would rather start staying home for the holidays once they have kids. And that’s okay (no matter what your mother in law says!)

Instead of giving gifts to your closest friends, talk to them about putting that money towards a girl’s night in January… one night where you get dinner and drinks with some of your favorite people, outside the chaos of the holiday season.

Maybe consider making the same deal with your partner.

Or, you know, ignore all of this and go all out. Hit up every party, make every dish, and buy enough presents to fill a small coliseum. If, only if, that’s what makes you happy.

If going all in is how you enjoy the holiday season, by all means… do it!

But for the rest of us, those who tend to get a bit overwhelmed or hyper-focused, and who seem to miss a lot of the joy of the season as result? Don’t be afraid to slow down. Because there is so much good that you very well might miss about this time of year if you’re overbooked, over-scheduled, and overwhelmed.