Tis the Season to Audaciously Cross Things OFF the Way Too Long “To Do” List. It’s one sure way to notice the magical spirit of it all.
Step 1: Take out the To Do List
Step 2: Take a big breath and start crossing things off.
“I can’t do that!!” you might be thinking. Let me convince you: Your TO DO List is likely a key factor in you’re not getting to enjoy the season nearly as much as you could be. The list is long. It’s overwhelming. It’s full of unrealistic expectations. It’s in your thoughts so much that when you are doing something you enjoy, you’re thinking of the TO DO List.
So let’s turn that TO DO list into an “I GET TO DO” list.
Step 3: Across the top of the TO DO List, write: How can I make this simpler? Heck, how can I make this fun?
Step 4: Cross things off the list – pretend you are an editor who must trim a 500 word article to 50 words. Your house cleaning list will start to look like this:
TIPS for CROSS OFFS:
The Baking List: Cross off all but 3 or 4 favourites. Cross off everything that’s complicated to cook. If tradition has you building a gingerbread house that gets thrown away at the end of the season, cross it off. Will it still be Christmas without Russian Teacakes or fudge that you burn three times before it turns out right? Yes.
Kids’ Gift List: Still trying to balance the number and value of gifts for your kids? Stop. You know you love them equally. “Balancing” just costs you more and more money. If the list is already way out of balance – so much so that one child will be sure you don’t love them at all – cross the extra gifts off the list. Put them away for a birthday or return them after Christmas. A tip to simplify gift giving for kids: Give them one thing they think they want, one thing they need or that you know they would like, a book, and if you love board games or movies, add that. This could be the year that you’ve decided to reduce ‘stuff’ to help the environment. Your kids might.. maybe.. buy into that, especially if ‘experiences’ like movies or skiing become a part of the gift giving tradition.
Gift list that has you going to 12 different stores: Pick a theme like ‘books’ and spend a relaxing afternoon in the book store choosing a special book, magazine or journal for in-laws, parents, siblings and friends. Or pick a craft or baking project and spend creative time at home with a hot chocolate, fancy coffee, or mulled wine making gifts. Or buy them experiences like movie passes, gifted with some nice organic popcorn, perhaps.
Christmas Dinner: Can you break tradition and make it simpler? Premake side dishes? Have others bring a side dish?
One year, most of my family was out of town, and just my two daughters and I were going to be having Christmas together. They told me not to plan dinner. They had a surprise, they said. Do you know how hard that was? What? No Turkey? No preplanning all that goes into Turkey dinner? The surprise was that they had planned to cook us a Persian dinner! I hadn’t had persian food since I’d lived in Iran when I was in my 20’s… it was such a thoughtful and delicious present. And look, here I am talking about the Persian Christmas dinner and not about all the other 50+ turkey dinners. We survived (thrived) doing Christmas dinner differently. So can you.
Events: What events on the list make you smile and what ones feel like pressure? Try really really hard to cross off the pressure events. They might be events you ‘should’ attend, but remember you are trying to reduce the overwhelm. Once you are done with all of the cross off’s, you might actually have time to do the things you’d adore doing. Your list might start to look like this:
- More story times with the kids.
- Read a book.
- Write a story. Play with paints.
- Sit by the fire and do nothing.
- Go Tobogganing, snowshoeing, skiing.
- Breath. Be present. Notice that there is actually magic at Christmas.
Notice how your TO DO list is turning into an I GET TO DO list? Feeling some relief? Now, in this more peaceful state; watch for it, listen for it, feel it…there is magic….