Several years ago a friend of mind told me that she wrote down reflections after each holiday season so that the next would be better. I took her advice and have been doing this for more than five years. I got out my reflections papers in November or December and looked over them. Because of reviewing them, I was able to make this past holiday season very enjoyable for me.
Some of the things that I did differently this year than previously:
- One of the favorite gifts for my kids each year is a bound book reviewing the past year. Many years ago I wrote a family blog and so I would “slurp” the blog and put it in a book. I don’t keep the family blog up-to-date any longer but I do love having the annual books. The challenge with the awesome gift is time. Years past, I have wanted to do every family event with the kids and then try to squeeze time in finish this book. Quite frankly it was super stressful and I have wanted to not do it. BUT I love to see my kids get all their books out and read through them during the year. So this year … (drum roll) … when it was time to put up the Christmas tree, I suggested that I be in the same room as everyone else but that I work on the blog book. It was a major win for me! I got a few hours of working on the book, without being isolated and tired.
- I have simplified gift giving. This has come out of necessity and sanity. When I have auto immune flares, there just isn’t much going out and shopping — so on-line shopping is the way I go. Here is a picture I put on FB this year about a week or so after Thanksgiving. Now that my kids are all teens or older, I request detailed lists from them. And because so much of what they want is clothes and shoes — they have to be very specific. I love Amazon wish lists. They can go on Amazon and make a wish list with the exact item (size, color, etc) they want. Then My Sweetheart and I just sit down together and decide which of the things they listed we want to buy. So in a matter of a few hours, all the shopping is done and I wait for it to show up at my door. Beautiful!
- Budgeting – we have actually done this for a very long time but because it is such a stress-reducer, I want to list it. We save a set amount of money each month that goes towards Christmas. Then when Christmas comes around, Sweetheart and I sit down and decide the budget amounts for each of the people on the list, the neighbor gifts, co-worker gifts, etc. So our December budget isn’t suddenly thrown way off just because buying of gifts is here. One of the first years that I wrote down reflections, I wrote that staying within the budget was essential and when I didn’t, it was super stressful.
- Related to this subject budgeting for gifts, is something that I am writing down on my reflection sheet for this year. I need to budget for holiday food. We have a few special meals between mid-November and January 2. These meals can really mess with my grocery budget. I didn’t plan well for them this year … but I will do better next year 🙂
- Some years I have not had the desire/energy to do a Christmas card – snail mail or email. I always note when I don’t do that and try to make sure I get back to it the following year.
- I keep track of who I receive Christmas wishes from — electronically or through the mail. Those are the people that I continue to send wishes to. Years ago I sent out SO many Christmas cards but heard back from few so I decided that unless someone sends me an email or a card, they don’t hear from me. Not trying to be mean, just saving my sanity here. I have also waited until February and done a February card just because that was when it worked for me.
- Five years ago I noted that it was super nice to have Sweetheart home on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as well as New Years Eve and New Years Day. When you are self-employed and making your own schedule, you don’t always remember those details from year to year. Now that it is written down, we block those days out in advance.
- About mid-November, we asked out kids if there were any certain things that were especially important to them that we do this holiday season. There were only a few things mentioned — but we made sure those happened.
- This year, as we drove home from our relative’s on Christmas night, I asked the kids what we did they liked that we did this year and what they did not like. Similar to #8, not a lot was mentioned but they did say that they want to do more secret service next year. So I am making note of it and we will make sure it happens.
- As I mentioned in my previous post, listening to a podcast that talked about the importance of enjoying life right now — rather than robbing ourselves of enjoyment by stressing out and worrying — really made my Christmas Even and Christmas Day super nice. I just enjoyed the moments with the family. I was able to not feel like I need to be thinking or planning ahead — just enjoy.
If you would like to have access to copy of a guide sheet and a fun printable to help you in your reflection process, click here.
After you write down your reflections, either print them out and put them away or save them on your computer and note where you save them. In either case, go to your calendar (I use google calendar associated with my email) and move ahead to mid-October or early November. Make a note on your calendar to get out your reflections so that you can implement the changes starting before the season begins. Works beautifully!
Wishing you peace, hope and harmony in all that you do!