I know there is a great deal of pressure this year to try to make Christmas and the holidays extra special. I think part of it is the pandemic and all of us having plans thrown into the air and not being able to see our families and being stuck at home. I think part of it is just the nature of the holidays and our brains thinking, “What can I do to make up for a really rough year?”
I’ve been reading comments from you all sharing how this unspoken extra pressure of how do I make this holiday good in the midst of chaos is adding so much pressure. And I started thinking about it, about the weight of this year and the culmination of the year and how the holidays add to the dichotomy of tragedy and joy.
Because lets be honest – this year has been filled with hardship. Right now, as I write this, a good friend of ours is battling for his life with Covid induced pneumonia. When I read updates it’s like getting punched in the gut – that reminder of the fragility of everything. I think it would be a disservice to not acknowledge how we are teetering between happiness and sorrow almost constantly this year.
And then, add in the holidays. And if you have kids, the pressure to make just one more thing normal for them in a year that is abnormal.
I think we all need to just breathe.
To slow down in a world that feels slow but is racing with dramatic changes.
First of all, kids are resilient. In fact, my kids, despite all the trying times and losses they’ve dealt with, are still excited about the simple things – lights outside or making Christmas cookies or that Christmas list. And they seem to adapt much quicker than us adults. They deal, they get out the emotion, they move on, they look for the good. In fact, when I look back at my Christmas adventure as a kid most don’t stand out. I’m sure my parents tried and tried, but it was the really simple things that made an impression. Like one year when it snowed big, puffy, wet snowflakes as we opened presents or the year my parents wrapped the presents without nametags and we spent days trying to figure out whose was whose.
You know, even if we just make it through, I have this feeling that this Christmas is one they won’t forget. But it won’t be because we did all these extra things to make it better. It might just be because of the simplicity. Of being with family. Of not having the rush. Of not feeling the pressure. Of small things. Of time spent together instead of racing to and fro.
We all get this year where we get to slow down the holiday frenzy. How many years have we read posts about reclaiming the holidays or the slow Christmas? So here we are, in the midst of a year where all the traditions and expectations and busy are like plates dropped on the ground. Here’s the beauty, the power – we each get to decide what we want to pick up. It’s a time to let go, to free ourselves from the crazy that most of us found ourselves in.
So if you’re wondering if you need to do extra to make this Christmas extra special – the answer is – whatever fits your family. But, I would challenge you to look at this year, to recenter and to make it less about making it extra and more about being together. If anything the pandemic has taught me it is that the stuff doesn’t matter. None of it does. No one goes around talking and wishing they had more things or more stuff to do.
My friend’s family, the man who has covid, doesn’t share about things.
We all just want simple, normal, health and family.
Maybe that is the greatest gift.
So breathe, breathe, breathe.
Do what works for your family. Love those who do extra, be proud in your story. But let those expectations go. Sometimes in life we have to let go of what we once knew in order to celebrate the beauty of what is right in front of us.
Love you all.
ps. I’m exceptionally grateful for all the essential workers who, even in the midst of a crazy holiday with less expectations, still show up, still give, still deal with all of us. You matter greatly.