The past few months have reached new heights of hectic-ness, just in time for the end-of-year push of the holiday season. Every year I tell myself I want to do things differently; to slow down, do less, enjoy more, but my good intentions get swallowed up and buried in the middle of too many activities (setting up a tree, shopping, decorating, baking and parties, parties, parties). This year is going to be different–not only because I’ve been super sick for the past six weeks and don’t have the energy to do everything I usually do–but because I don’t want to do all of those things. Instead, I want to simplify. Here is the new holiday motto that’s echoing through my mind:
This definitely means less shopping. I honestly don’t like to shop, even on a good day. Is it just me or does it seem kinda crazy to try to give cool gifts to every meaningful person in your life all on the same day? The other day I was forced to visit a shopping mall (in the middle of holiday craziness) to find my daughter something to wear for a school event. The parking lot was a giant knot of frantic, agro drivers caught in traffic. I’m so glad I walked.
Why do we do this to ourselves, people?
Instead, I’m giving the gift of reading–magazines. Not only does this gift keep giving all year round, I don’t have to wait in line at the post office to mail it. The list of magazines I’ve found cover an amazing array of topics: classical music, German language, bicycling, Paleo living, and yoga. Younger readers are getting Discovery Girls and Cricket. Who wouldn’t appreciate a magazine dedicated to their passion?
We’re also choosing to do less socializing. I want to celebrate just like anyone else but I don’t want to end up burned out and sick, which is exactly what would happen if I said yes to everything. There are invitations from friends, community events, school events, and the annual party we always throw…it all adds up to too much running around.
It’s supposed to be the season to be jolly, not the season to be stressed out, right?
Instead of trying to do it all we’ve focused on doing a few of our favorite things: baking cookies with friends, decorating our house, a holiday meal with close friends. We aren’t throwing a party this year, either, and it’s a huge relief.
Choosing to adopt the less is more motto has paid off in some unexpected ways. Slowing down and remembering to breathe feels really good (especially after getting over a nasty bout of bronchitis). I find I notice and appreciate more of what’s going on around me, like the other morning when I was able to watch one of the most magnificent sunrises I’ve ever seen. It was a real-life Maxfield Parrish painting, the azure blue sky filled with fluffy pink and peach clouds streaked with stripes of glowing gold. The sky blazed a brilliant orange against the dark silhouette of the hills as the sun came up and bathed the entire San Francisco Bay in a swath of golden light. Words can’t really describe, so let’s just say it was stunning.
It was during those moments when I remembered how incredible this life can be. Slow down or you’ll miss it.