Parenting

Why I don't sweat the holidays

Nope, I'm not lying. I've learned (the hard way, of course) how not to stress over Christmas. So I thought I'd share my secret.

Photo: ElisaGH/iStockphoto.com

Photo: iStockphoto

Christmas is less than a week away. The presents aren’t wrapped. I’m not really done my baking. I haven’t decided what to make for Christmas day dinner. I’m not even entirely sure I’m finished shopping. Am I stressed out? Nope. Nada. Zilch. Not even in the slightest.

If you told me 10 years ago that I’d be this relaxed this close to the 25th, I would have thought you were nuts. But that was the Old Me. The Old Me wrote out 60 cards with personal, long messages, she cut down the biggest, most perfect tree, baked dozens and dozens of cookies for cookie exchanges, spent endless amounts of time searching for the perfect present for each and every person on her list.

Stressed doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt as I approached the holidays. If you told the Old Me to calm down, she would have tied you up in Christmas lights and told you where to stick the tree.

So how did I go from the Christmas-crazed-perfectionist to this more laid back version of my former self? I know I’m about to sound entirely sexist, but I’ll be honest. I took off the red- and green-coloured goggles and wondered: What would Christmas look like if men were running the show?

1. First off, they wouldn’t write Christmas cards. Well, most of them wouldn’t (my uncle still writes a Christmas letter every year). But seriously, most men only write a card out of duress. So I stopped cold turkey. That was a huge relief for me (I really hated doing them).

2. Men like to light up the outside (remember Clark Griswold?), but they don’t go crazy inside. So I minimized the decorating. I still put up a tree because I like the smell and the lights. I get it from a lot  now. Sure it sounds romantic to cut your own tree, but how many couples go from tree to tree, arguing about which one to take home, while the kids cry and complain that it’s too cold and everyone ends up in a bad mood. Fa-la-la-no thanks.

3. I’ve stopped thinking that I have to find the perfect present. I still get excited when I find something that I just know someone will love, but I don’t get myself wound up about it anymore. Does it really matter if it isn’t “the best present ever”? Back to my man’s Christmas analogy: guys love getting a six of beer and some beef jerky. All we really care about is being thought of.

4. Guys usually don’t make out long lists of people to buy for months in advance. So I shop for fewer people. Most of the adults in my life and I mutually agreed that we do not need any more crap…I mean, presents. We just want to spend time together.

5. I don’t bake unless I feel like it (and I only make one batch of each cookie). Because you know men don’t have cookie exchange parties (which I don’t go to anymore).

6. Oh, and I swear by the 12 days of Christmas. So I don’t do a whole lot until the 13th. It keeps the holidays short and fun rather than drawn out and exhausting.

7. I stay home on Christmas day. I used to go to five houses, trying to keep everyone happy. Not anymore. We still get everyone in, but we spread them out over the holidays.

Now where’s that six-pack and beef jerky? I should probably wrap a couple of presents.

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