It wasn’t long after Gary & I got married that we started questioning the tradition of gift giving for the holidays.
Because we don’t live close to our families, it was difficult to stay up do date on what everyone was into, and notice what they needed. When you’re physically around someone frequently, you notice what things are getting worn, or if a gadget or subscription to a service would make their lives easier. But we really didn’t have that since we live over 2000 miles away from our nearest relative. So, unless we were able to pick up through a conversation that Dad needed a new drill, or visiting that Mom’s bake wear was really in need of an upgrade, we – like many others – would ask for a list. And since our families visited us less frequently, they’d ask us for a list too.
The problem that arose was that we are fortunate enough that when we want something, we just go out and buy it. Things that we hold off on purchasing, are probably more expensive than you would expect a family member to spend – unless that person was Daddy Warbucks.
So, during the months preceding the holidays, if there were any small purchases, we’d make a mental note not to buy them, but add them to a list, and then we’d scramble to make a list of stuff that we really didn’t need, with links to the exact products that we wanted – color, size and all. They’d do the same for us.
The delight that comes with Christmas morning – the anticipation of opening your gifts, wondering what was in them – just wasn’t there. We knew exactly what would be there. It was everything we had asked for.
I don’t know – it just felt wrong. Kind of like when Gary was a teen, he and his brother made a pact that they’d each buy & wrap their own presents, but just put the others name on the card as to whom it was from.
It’s kind of the same – isn’t it?
Occasionally a relative would go rogue & buy us something which was not on the list. Which is totally fine. BUT what it resulted in, us with a look of disbelief, sighing, ‘you don’t know me at all!’
Some favorites from this collection:
- A Slot Machine Liquor Dispenser – Apparenty you would fill this baby up with your liquor of choice. Then, where a real slot machine would dispense coins, you’d place a glass. Pull the handle, and your liquor would pour into the glass.
- A ceramic cat with a 1″x1″ picture frame attached by a spring to it’s paw. Not exactly like the Maneki Neko (the good luck ceramic cats that you see in Asian establishments), but not that cute.
- A green metal votive holder in the shape of a frog. That one I didn’t mind so much, but Gary hated it. Ha!
Now before you judge me for not being appreciative of gifts, please be aware that I am very thankful that I have people in my life who care enough to express their love through giving. I do.
BUT all of those gifts weren’t anything that brought us joy, or that we would even use. It was just stuff. They represented an obligation that so many of us have during the holidays, birthdays and other events. We ended giving almost all of it away. And in that sense, I see the gifts more as a waste of money.
Christmas is expensive! And it’s stressful
So we stopped.
We only give gifts to nieces and nephews, and it has made a HUGE difference in our holiday experience since we made the change.
That first Christmas season that we dropped gifts, felt like a weight had been lifted! It seemed like I didn’t have anything to do. I wasn’t over-scheduled, and hurrying from place to place. I became one of those obnoxious people at the mall who strolls! Ha! – because I didn’t have anyplace to BE!
We had time to sip coffee or wine & watch the shoppers (I loooooove people watching!) It was amazing.
So, my holiday experience has completely changed in those years. But that doesn’t mean that holidays are completely stress free. There are still holiday parties which translate into drinking more alcohol, and eating foods that I normally don’t eat. Which impacts my sleep and the way that I feel.
So, this year, I’m giving myself the gift of self-care. I”m trying to be more conscious of those things that drain me versus re-energize me.
What self care means to me
As women, it’s part of our DNA to nurture others. As a result, we keep piling more and more on top of our schedules. And it seems to happen so gradually – doesn’t it? Years ago, we would have balked at the schedule that we have today – exclaiming, ‘There’s no WAY I can get all of that done!’ And yet, here you are, and you manage to make it look effortless.
Of course, there’s only so much time in the day. So when we say yes to something, that means that we say no to something else. More often than not, what we’re saying no to is ourselves – our rest and recharge time – those things that we do that energize us instead of drain our energy.
So, when I think about self-care, I think about adding myself to the list.
- Making sure that I get enough sleep
- Committing to myself to eat nutritious meals – not only ones that taste good 😉
- Committing to myself to keep up my normal exercise schedule
- But if I don’t – giving myself permission to not beat myself up about it.
- Saying ‘no’ to things I don’t want to do
Basically, it’s focusing on things that will make me feel good in the long run – not only those things that only make me feel good now.
How you can do it
So those are the things that are on my list. The things that are on your list might be different. Scheduling down time, or bonding & play with your partner and/or kiddos could be something that restores your energy. Baking, baths, drinks with good friends – these are all examples of things that might recharge your batteries, and help you de-stress.
How to know when to say NO versus YES!
The last item on my list above (although it is probably the most important) is saying “no”. Now, I’m not saying no to everything. Only those things that I don’t have a guttural “HELL YES!” reaction to.
You know what I mean – right? If someone asks you to do something & you feel heavy at the thought of doing it? That’s for sure a NO! That heaviness is a sign that you feel guilt, pressure, or obligation to do whatever it is. If you say yes, you’re going to regret it, and probably feel resentment towards the commitment or the person asking. Avoid that at all costs. It means that you’re not honoring your true feelings. And we’ve already talked about that in a previous email.
BUT if you are immediately excited at the thought of doing whatever it is – then for sure say YES! Doing things that make you happy bring you more energy and joy. Which, when you think about it, is what this season should be all about.
There’s still room for you in my new online accountability support group – Health with Friends. Even though ‘the holidays’ only consists of 4 days, many of us tend to go a little overboard. If you need some support in sticking to your routine – whatever that looks like for you, we oils love to have you join us. It doesn’t cost a dime, and if you don’t like it, you can leave (but why on earth wouldn’t you like it? It’s an amazing group of awesome women!) We’d love for you to be a part of it. And it’s FREE! (did I mention it’s free?) Click here to Join or just Learn More.