December 12, 2012

Soothing Holiday Words

I am speaking soothingly these days into my own ears: "No, no, shhhhhhh, it's fine, you ALWAYS think there's too much to do before Christmas, and it ALWAYS works out JUST FINE."

A soothing mantra, I've found, is "No one really cares." I used this most recently to help me dial back the perfectionism with the Christmas cards this year: I genuinely enjoy sending them so I don't WANT to skip them (I know I COULD skip, but I don't WANT to), but it absolutely works to write "Love, Swistle" and call it a day. No one really cares; no one will say, "Awww, but she usually writes 'Happy holidays and a very happy New Year!' first, and then writes the names of all seven family members! How are we going to have a happy holiday/year without Swistle WRITING that we should have one?"
 
And just because I OWN tons of cute gift wrap and ribbons and gift tags doesn't mean I have to USE them. Some years it's fun to do that, making a pretty assortment of wrappings under the tree and figuring out interesting combinations of coordinating/contrasting ribbon/tags. Other years I want to use a roll of gift wrap until it's gone, and then start on the next one and use IT until IT is gone, and I want to use a sharpie to write to/from on everything. No one really cares which way I do it. No one will say, "Awww, last year my three presents were in three different papers! This year they're all in the SAME paper! Christmas is RUINED!"

And it would be NICE if I had each of the three younger children make cards for their teachers. It would be NICE if I made the little plates of treats for the mail carrier and our neighbors. It would be NICE if I got some extra snapshots printed to send with the card to my great-aunt. It would be NICE if I arranged a gingerbread-house-making activity. But I'm not going to this year, and no one will deep-down care.

(This would be the opposite of soothing on the years that I am getting everything done.)

27 comments:

Laura said...

YES! I am calling this my Good-Enough Christmas. The cards weren't perfect, I did not involve the children in making the gingerbread house, I went a complete cheaty way in creating blankets for my girls. But the cards were out ON TIME and the gingerbread house was made WITHOUT YELLING and the blankets were done in such a timely fashion I got to make pillows to go with them. Good Enough. As you write, I'm happier and no one really cares anyway.

artemisia said...

Since we abruptly (and happily!) became a one-income household, many of the trappings of Christmas are simply off the table. There is no budget for it.

I've found that it has released me of the guilt/stress/good intentions that accompany extravagant (for us) gift-giving, cookie-making and giving, package-presentation, etc. etc.

I feel like I came to the peacefulness by way of cheating, and you came to it by way of growth. Either way, yay for us!

I am broke and can only do so much. People in my life understand this. If they don't, well, I've decided I don't give a f*ck and screw 'em. Maybe I don't "need" them in my life after all.



artemisia said...

The whole point of my comment was to say that I AM struggling a bit with Christmas cards. I have trimmed my list as much as possible, but it is still going to be over $30 in postage.

Is it okay to spend that on POSTAGE? It fits in the budget and we've done awesome with our spending/budeting. But I still feel guilty.

Someone tell me I can buy the postage. (I already purchased cards, paper, and envelopes after last Christmas for 75% off. Score!)

Bailey said...

artemisia: buy the postage! That is over seventy cards (which is nearly A HUNDRED CARDS) for people that will open their mailbox and get real, pretty, Christmas mail from you. That is the shiz.

Bailey said...

1 large "Santa gift," to be left unwrapped under the tree - CHECK

Enough bits and bobbles to fill a small kiddo stocking - CHECK

As for the rest of the trappings, "La la la! Whatever. La la la! It doesn't matter."

Swistle said...

artemisia- "I feel like I came to the peacefulness by way of cheating, and you came to it by way of growth. Either way, yay for us!"---Ha ha ha! I love this.

You can buy the postage. Don't think of it in a lump. Think of it as only 45 cents per household to send season's greetings PLUS a pretty card for them to use for decoration! Plus maybe a card back to you for YOU to use as cheap decoration!

Melissa Haworth said...

I do believe we are having the exact same holiday season. The 50+ (oh crap!) people who are coming to our party aren't going to care if the windows are cleaned or if the cookie assortment is not as vast as last year. We will give them wine and company and it will be FINE.

I'm also having to remind myself (as I'm staying up till midnight making said cookies with less assortment than last year) that I LIKE to make cookies. I LIKE to host parties. I made the CHOICE to invite folks and I WANT them to come. I should NOT feel put upon for doing things I LIKE to do.

It is a big circle of self reminding. Nobody cares and I like to do it. So no stress!

Katie said...

Who cares? That has been my latest mantra. Who cares? No one except me on most things. So why do I do it to myself? If I'm the only one who cares?

I loved this post. It is a great reminder...Yes. All these ideas I have would be NICE. But they aren't necessary and they certainly aren't worth stressing over.

I keep getting ready for Christmas earlier and earlier every year, thinking I will free up my mind and lower my stress level to really actually ENJOY December. And yet....it is never over. I keep thinking of more things to do. All those things that aren't necessary, but just nice. Now I have time/money for them because I did so much ahead of time. And now I'm doing way too much crap and I'm still not slowing down and enjoying. I have got to get a grip!

Jennifer B said...

"Christmas is RUINED!" Love this.

Alison Presley said...

I like this! I think we all need to be a little nicer to ourselves during the holiday rush.

leenie said...

"nobody cares" was the mantra for us during wedding planning, and while it sounds bleak, it actually freed us to do all the weird things WE wanted to do (taco truck! no centerpieces! no flowers! marrying ourselves rather than a officiant!) because NO BODY CARES. It was a magically freeing way to think about things.

LB said...

I always stress too much over Christmas but then I realise the person who cares the most about these little details is me! The rest of my family doesn't care or notice that much. I'm sure people enjoy getting little gifts and cards but I think i get more enjoyment really from giving them. And I doubt many notice if I skip a year.

Somehow ironically that makes me feel better. I have to realise that I am doing all this work because in the end I enjoy the results. And if I feel like the work is not worth the enjoyment I get from the result? I can skip that particular activity and Christmas will not be ruined.

All this to say, yes. I get this post.

KeraLinnea said...

The paragraph about the wrapping paper really strikes home. I do that very thing. Some years feature beautifully coordinated ribbons and paper and gift tags, with a different combo on each gift, and other years feature every present wrapped the same damn way, maybe some of that curling ribbon IF I FEEL LIKE IT, and sharpie scrawled tos and froms. Some years it seems as though too much is being requested of me: "Wait, I not only have to spend time and money thinking of and finding a thoughtful gift for you, I also have to think of a lovely way to present it? Screw this, I'm just gonna drink Bailey's and eat candy canes until the damn ball drops."

I almost never actually do that. I might this year, though.

Artemisia: Buy the postage. It will be fine.

Lawyerish said...

My mantra this Christmas season (and in life generally) has become, "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good."

If I'd given myself grief for not even signing my name to our Christmas cards, they'd never have gone out. If I'd made a big thing about taking/selecting the PERFECT card and PERFECT photo for said cards, they wouldn't even have gotten made in the first place.

Same with cookies for the neighbors (last year, I had time for that little pleasantry and it made me feel great; this year, I decidedly do not have time and NO ONE WILL DIE); extra-thoughtful gifts or presents for people I don't usually buy for; and viewings of every Christmas movie ever made. This year is about surviving and enjoying what nice moments/traditions I can, but giving myself a damn break because I also have a life that doesn't stop for the holidays.

The perfectionist me is wriggling with discomfort about this, but the me who has to get up in the morning, put on my pants, and go to work is quite comfortable with it.

MomQueenBee said...

Yes! Yes, yes, yes. Please excuse me if I completely plagiarize this post, because it says EXACTLY what I'm thinking this year.

Erin said...

Ahhh, this is a relief to read. My only problem is that I SO EASILY employ this mantra (mine is, "Meh." ... same difference) in ALL aspects of life.

Nicole said...

The thought of writing a Christmas newsletter this year was making me very very anxious and crabby. So I didn't do it! And now I feel SO VERY FESTIVE AND CHEERY. Christmas wasn't ruined after all.

Lynn said...

Ugh, I wish I could say I was there with you, but I'm still feeling the pressure to Get It All Done. Even though I KNOW no one cares, and I BELIEVE no one cares, I still MUST DO.

I need some sort of intervention. Am off to re-read your post and hope it talks some sense into me.

Leslie said...

Oh, Swistle, I'm with you on this. The thing I'm beginning to realize about myself is that even if I do everything I feel I'm supposed to do and as perfectly as I can, I'm still not satisfied. (I must be adorable to live with!) This year, I'm really trying to focus on enjoying the holiday instead of making sure it looks like the perfect holiday. Being immensely pregnant and tired is helping. I just don't have the energy for perfectionism right now, anyway.

Gigi said...

I have been that "perfectionist" Christmas presenter in the past. And slowly, I drifted away from the "I must send a card to every person who has entered my life AND write a personal note to each" to just sending pre-printed cards to not sending a darn thing (mainly because of finances). And you know what? Not one person has complained (to me) because they haven't received a card. Not one.

A few other things have been cut too and still, no complaints. Makes me pretty sure that no one ever noticed in the first place.

Tell yourself "It's fine!" because it is and have a wonderful Christmas.

H said...

I'm sort of in...opposite world. I have never been a perfectionist about Christmas (although I am in nearly every other aspect of life) so my decorating/wrapping/baking efforts have been adequate. If I had to grade myself, I'd generally give myself a B and I'm OK with that. Gift selection, however, was a huge deal for me, for some reason. I had to find the perfect gifts. If I had a list of desired gifts, I'd go to the ends of the earth to find the items on the list. However, I realized that my efforts were not appreciated and people changed their minds, so now I have reduced my gift-seeking frenzy by about 75%. My stress level has dropped significantly!

Sarah said...

Oh my yes. Realizing that all the stuff I tend to stress about matters mainly only to ME has been so helpful for me since Tali was born. Tables/bookshelves kind of dusty? No one gives a rat's patoot but me. Kitchen floor less than shiny? People give only a tiny rat's patoot, and easily give me a pass since, hello, three kids plus new baby. And all that goes double for the EXTRA work (I mean magic!) of Christmas decorations/traditions/gifts. I have had to keep reminding myself of it, of course, because old mental habits die hard, but I am ever so slowly finding a peace in less-than-perfect. Glad to hear I have so much company.

Kara Keenan said...

Unfortunately, I am having an expensive Christmas. The kids are between the ages of 5 and 9, and no longer really want toys. Instead, they want expensive, small electronics! And Furbys. So there's that. As for wrapping paper, I wrap EVERYTHING. And each kid gets a "color" of the paper. So Kid 1 gets red, Kid 2 gets blue, and Kid 3 gets green. Adults get white.

Then, I'm hosting dinner this year. 12 adults, 10 kids. So, we'll need a huge bird and a big beef tenderloin. Plus the sides and desserts.

Buttercup said...

Swistle, this post inspired me (as so many of your posts do) just to get things done. So I stopped worrying about picking out/wrapping/delivering beautiful 1st Christmas ornaments (don't ask why I was so fixated on this) and just picked out a lovely one on the Macy's website and let them send it for me. And I feel so much better, because the parents will be surprised and pleased that someone sent a gift, and not disappointed that I didn't hand wrap it and bring it to their house.

Shelly said...

I'm going to print this out and whisper it into my own ears daily (and perhaps more than once on some days). Between my stressful job and trying to organize a year's worth of pictures into a photo calendar for the grandparents, I am about to lose my ever-loving mind.

We sent out regular cards this year instead of photo cards and LO! the world did not end.

CARRIE said...

I sorta do the same thing with the wrapping paper. I swore this year I would NOT buy more paper; I would use up what I have. And I have stuck with it. I have even (almost) decided to purchase a bunch of Christmas fabric on sale after Christmas and use that for all my wrapping next year. Not only will it end up being cheaper in the long-term, it will be less wasteful.

Christina said...

Yeah, this was the first year I did the whole printed on "love blah, blah, blah and blah" on premade picture card.
Normally I do a real card, with a handwritten message, and include a print of the pic.
This year I said screw it. No writing!!! It took like 1/10th the time! And I've already heard "best card ever" and "you guys are so creative" so nobody noticed/cared anyways.

Hubby and I already exchanged gifts by giving them in the amazon box. We removed the packing slip first, we're classy like that.