Unless you’re one of those curmudgeonly, Scroogy types, Christmas holds an ethereal, almost magical quality: The music. The greenery. The lights. The gleam of anticipation in the eyes of children. It’s a joyous, delightful season!
So how is it that such a lovely time of year is almost always cram-packed with STRESS?
It’s our own fault, moms. Let’s face it. We’re the queens of over-commitment. We over-plan, over-schedule, over-buy, and over-obligate! Saying NO to good times and good causes and good friends can sometimes seem to go against our very natures.
But, my dear friends, it’s okay to say no sometimes. Really. In fact, learning to say no, especially during the holidays, can often save us boatloads of time and tears. So listen up, ladies!
1. It’s okay to say NO to party invitations.
Sometimes the only way to make it to every party and event at Christmastime is to push ourselves to the very edge of our sanity, which only serves to make us exhausted, stressed-out, grouchy wives and mothers. Lord forbid we please everyone else by making it to every. single. get-together., all while being a holy terror to those of our own household!
I realize it’s tough, but sometimes we have to pick and choose which invitations to accept. It’s not about playing favorites, it’s about being realistic with our time and energies. So prioritize the invitations and let go of the guilt. (And don’t make excuses, either. RSVP to say you won’t be attending and be done with it.)
2. It’s okay to say NO to requests for help.
I’m kind of a stickler when it comes to keeping commitments, so if you’ve already volunteered to make costumes for the Christmas play or to bake pies for the Christmas benefit dinner, I advise you to stick to it and do what you said you’d do.
But taking on new obligations is another matter.
It can be really hard to say no, especially when it’s for a good cause, but remember that NO doesn’t mean you don’t care or you don’t want to help. It simply means you’ve considered the time and effort the commitment will require and you are unable to assist this time around. There should be no guilt in that.
3. It’s okay to say NO to organized gift exchanges.
Some well-meaning lady in your Bible study group has proposed a gift exchange. But, uh-oh… you just remembered your kids are doing a gift exchange in their youth group. And your husband has one at work. And you’ve been doing a gift exchange with four of your neighbors for years! So where do you come up with the extra money for all these gift exchanges, not to mention the time to shop for them, especially when you’re not even done shopping for your own children?
Rather than criticize the one who made the suggestion… Yeah, it’s easy for her to talk about a gift exchange! She doesn’t have any kids! And her and her husband both work!…why not kindly and respectfully bow out? You don’t have to whine about your financial status. (In fact, please don’t!) Just say you would rather not participate this time. (But then, of course, don’t come to the Christmas party expecting to receive a gift. Believe it or not, I’ve actually been to an exchange or two where people didn’t bring gifts, but still expected to receive one.)
4. It’s okay to say NO to extensive decorating.
Last year, Christmas decorating almost didn’t happen for us at all. We were in the midst of selling our home and we were showing the house throughout the month of December. I had to stick to the basics both for time’s sake and to keep my small house looking as large and open as possible. I didn’t particularly like it, but light decorating was necessary. And I didn’t die from it! 🙂
I know you want your house to look a page out of Southern Living. I do, too! But sometimes, certain years in particular, it just isn’t practical. Don’t feel bad for limiting the decorating when doing so may save you a lot of time and stress.
5. It’s okay to say NO to Christmas baking.
Hey, I love filling my house with the aroma of pies and cookies and candies, and I love passing them along to friends and family, but Christmas baking can take an incredible amount of time! If baking is a priority with you because it’s something you enjoy, then let other things go and by all means bake to your heart’s content! But don’t do it out of obligation. Uncle John may be a little disappointed you didn’t make his favorite chocolate-caramel-pecan fudge this year, but he’ll be okay. Trust me. 😉
*Oh, and don’t fall for the myth that says homemade gifts are always cheaper than store-bought ones. It’s not always true. It’s not hard to spend a small fortune on ingredients for holiday baking, plus the containers to share them in!
6. It’s okay to say NO to gift wrapping.
I’m not suggesting you deliver your gifts in plastic grocery bags, but don’t feel like you have to spend lots of time and money wrapping gifts or paying others to do it for you. I LOVE beautiful packages wrapped in velvet ribbon and accented with holly sprigs and jingle bells, but that stuff takes a lot of time, especially when you consider most of it winds up in the trash!
My dear moms, GIFT BAGS ARE OUR FRIENDS! Don’t feel bad using them! And discount stores sell packs of lovely printed gift boxes that look very nice without any wrapping. Add some curly ribbon or a peel-and-stick bow and you have a perfectly acceptable gift without having to wrap!
And incidentally, I wrap my children’s presents because I love seeing their excitement as they tear the paper open, but gifts for others don’t always get the same consideration. And you know what? I haven’t heard a single complaint yet!
7. It’s okay to say NO to gift giving altogether.
Now don’t misunderstand me here: I know it is more blessed to give than to receive, but it’s important to give responsibly and with the right motive, and often that truth gets lost at Christmastime.
Spending more money than you have is unwise. Period. You also shouldn’t feel pressured to give out of obligation or as part of some competition.… They always buy for me, so I have to buy for them… She always buys the teacher a really nice gift, so I better do the same… I wouldn’t buy so much for my children, but my sister buys her kids such elaborate gifts and I think it makes me look bad…
Stop it, moms! Don’t fall into the gift comparison trap.