Spoiler alert. You don’t need a permission slip from me to chill this Christmas, to tread more lightly this year. Are you kidding? I am one of the most hopelessly inconsistent, least-credentialed Christmas chillers in holy day history.
Permission to Chill this Christmas?
Reflections from a Recovering Perfectionist
Intensely mixed feelings swirl up in here every November. But if you think a permission slip might help you, I have extras.
Also, don’t be a hater. If hustle, expense, big feels, and tinsel overload bring out the best in you, YOU DO YOU.
As for me (and a messy midlife journey to unburden what can be unburdened within this inner landscape), chillin’ feels kind.
Feels like sweet freedom from a cage of culture-imposed holiday anxiety.
Opting out of the rush and excess reduces the impulse to compare my Christmas snapshots to yours. (Not a small thing in an age of social media.)
Will Embracing Calm Be Popular With Family?
Wait. If I’m not freaking about decorations, perfect gifts, and the trappings, am I even a good parent/friend/partner embodying a spirit of gracious giving?
It’s a personal question only you can truly answer by searching your heart.
Where does my responsibility to create a magical season of celebration begin and end? Will the magic not happen if I bring a spirit of calm spaciousness to it rather than emotional fatigue or frazzled desperation?
Won’t family and friends benefit from my presence if my nervous system is better regulated?
What underlies the pressures I feel each year to top last year’s festivities and to at all costs, impress, please, and make the days count?
Permission to Chill, Let Go & Allow Magic to Appear
For me, there’s this fear that if I’m not laboring and worrying about holiday trappings, the magic won’t be there. It’s hard to let go of: traditions that no longer fit, cultural pressures to perform, and even dreams of “the perfect family Christmas.” I guess it’s hard to trust that it will all be enough in spite of letting go.
It? Wait a sec. What is “it?”
Because it seems to me unraveling the “it” is important. For me, I think IT is the connection and unity felt each year on a holy day where our hearts are open to receive the light, the Good News.
Chillin’ feels radical and subversive!
Which is why it is so important to sink into your heart for such matters. Are there stirrings there to slow down and savor rather than speedily subscribe to spectacle? Is something new and loving trying to be born? Will you prepare room for the new?
What does free, wild, unburdened movement through seasons look like when I am audacious enough to offer my YES to what feels most true rather than “true enough?”
Letting Go of Old Holiday Stories
I’m suddenly aware of how my journey with chronic illness and pain magnifies how we prize hustle culture, the American dream, and “shiny happy families at Christmas.”
Without my poor health and failures, would I be as emboldened to challenge the status quo and imagine a new picture of happy holidays?
After all, it feels as though the culture still claims: if you don’t have good health, what do you even have? I can’t begin to tell you how much hurt, fear, and shame is perpetrated by this widely accepted sentiment.
It suggests human frailty and even aging are remarkable and to be feared, not honored. It links poor health to scarcity.
Even more confusing is how the same culture seems to make it difficult to eat well, age well, afford health care, and work a health-honoring schedule.
But I’ll tell you what you can have with poor health, friends.
Vision, wisdom, patience, mercy, compassion, love, integrity, creativity, intelligence, joy, generosity, adventure, fruitfulness, hope, beauty, courage, imagination, dignity, ambition, humor, gratitude, heartfulness, strength, and wholeness.
Poor health will not lock you out of Eden or automatically bankrupt you of these things.
Permission Slip for Holiday Chill
Goodness, I just typed a diatribe to express this:
You and yours are free to embody and welcome calm this Christmas. Free to choose how a joyous December and magical holiday will feel, sound, taste and look.
Search your heart and soul to discern where you will give your YES and where you will give your NO.
Choose what fits you right where you are, not where you were back then or where you’ll be next year.
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Try These Chill Strategies
Here are ways I have calmed down my holiday frenzy to welcome a chilled holiday.
1. I Decorate When I Feel Like It
I put up the tree for Thanksgiving but still haven’t decorated it. When the time feels right, I’ll embellish it. Or maybe the little white lights will be enough. And maybe it will stay up through January if we have a lot of grey days since it adds such cozy factor.
I’m thinking about limiting my color palette to white. Yesterday I put on a favorite podcast and began creating lovely white paper bag snowflakes.
You can find instructions on youtube, and maybe I’ll share my method. (But maybe not…pacing myself doncha know).
Ditch the Facade That Decking the Halls is Easy or Fun
If you didn’t guess it, I’m very sorry to reveal to you that the first rule of INFLUENCER 101 seems to be MAKE IT ALL LOOK EASY. And also to say “enjoy the process” like a lot. I mean, if a content creator wants you to buy the thing, make the thing, or use the thing, the content will suggest it’s all very manageable and mostly tidy. And it often appears easy when it’s hard work.
Decorating rooms, trees, porches, and cookies can be highly enjoyable with rich payoffs, but it is often not easy. So you don’t have to make it look easy or think you should be able to do all the things quickly and smoothly. Pace yourself. Make it more pleasant with Christmas music or while watching a movie. Treat yourself. Ask for help. Delegate. Curse as necessary. Or skip it because your energy is needed elsewhere.
2. Decorate With Food
I don’t think I’m inventing anything new here, but why do we forget that we can fill up our own senses by cooking and baking delicious holiday treats that can also serve as decoration? No need to be a pastry chef or to even spend hours watching youTubes. You can even buy a grocery store cake or cookies and place them on pretty pedestals. BUY LOTS OF FRUIT EVEN IF YOU DON’T PLAN TO EAT THE FRUIT. Bowls of green apples or clementines look festive everywhere. If you won’t be eating them, use them for a simmer on the stove before they go bad.
Not crazy about gingerbread house making?
Make a candy house or buy gingerbread cookies to decorate a Christmas tree.
Even jars of this with a pretty ribbon qualify as decoration!
3. Deck Just One Room
The Kringle police are not going to make an arrest should you choose to just make one room or one corner of a room holiday-ready.
If you have a fireplace, maybe that will be the only holiday moment. And maybe just maybe it will encourage you to relax more in front of it as it welcomes you with cheer.
If you are one fireplace short, maybe just a single shelf.
4. Light Candles
If your holiday decorating stress comes from being the one responsible for creating the magical backdrop for memories, think candles.
Could lighting candles eliminate the need for hours of housework? ALL THE YEPS. If you’re entertaining, skip the deep clean until AFTER the shindig. Turn the lights low and light those candles everywhere, you relaxed maker of Christmas magic!
Here are the votives I always have on hand.
Need an easy holiday get together idea? For an easy dessert and no baking, buy a plain cheesecake from your favorite restaurant or bakery. Buy a few topping options, and everyone can enjoy their favorite. In lieu of a full bar or a bunch of booze shopping, serve this as a cocktail and mocktail:
5. Ease Gift Giving Stress With a Theme
It keeps me organized when I come up with a theme for gifts. Even a broad category such as ‘gourmet gifts’ or ‘custom photo gifts’ or ‘puzzles’ can simplify the shopping.
Is this the PERFECT one size fits all GIFT for every human on your list?
Even freakouts can be endearing and slightly festive:
Peace to you right where you are.
Thanks for shopping RIGHT HERE to keep decor inspiration flowing on Hello Lovely!
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