Musing from an accidental entrepreneur, mama and once upon a time yogini.
Stressed getting ready for the Christmas holidays? It’s an easy thing to do. Here in NZ we are preparing for what is essentially a nationwide shutdown. (Barring a few things like grocery stores, gas stations and industries like fruit picking). As an American I used to hate it. Odd hours, things not functioning the way I expected and general inconvenience. I look back and realise I was a foreigner out of step with the internal timings Kiwi’s grew up with knowing. So it felt inconvenient to me and a well earned break for them.
After being here for over 10 years I now love this time and year and see so much value in a nation taking a collective pause. It’s like the whole country gets to hit reset and comes back fresh for the year. But in the last decade I have watched what I assume is capitalism under the guise of convenience gain a foothold here. We come back a little sooner in January and it’s busier before we close down. It’s easy for us to overwhelm our already overwhelmed schedule and feel stressed and depleted this time of year.
Earlier in the year when it became clear we were staying in NZ for Christmas one particularly dear friend and I decided our families would celebrate Christmas at their home in Raglan. We have travelled the world together with our children in tow and have spent holidays together and had many adventures pre and post children. They are really more family than friends so it was an easy and joyous decision.
So stress for our holidays? Other than a potentially over sugared or tired child there will be exactly none. Our experiences rarely feel stressed. So when I heard about other people feeling stressed about Christmas it made me think about what we do differently.
- We choose something we feel inspired to do. This can be Christmas, birthdays, Disneyland, Tonga, yoga retreats, anything. This provides something of an anchor point, focus or theme to what we are doing.
- We think about the fun things we want to experience. This year the mama Christmas fun has been around trying different gins and mixers for our summer drinks. I found some extraordinary local gins to try, she brought in some recommendations from a well versed gin drinking friend. So both contribute and add creatively as it feels right to us.
- We know our priorities. Neither of us gravitate toward cooking but love nice food. So the obvious answer was to splurge on a Christmas food box. There’s minimum effort for maximum payoff. We even ordered the larger box so we had plenty of leftovers for the next few days. Making life even easier.
- We have a few anchor points of activities but are willing to let those go if it doesn’t suit at the time. This year we have talked about some boat time in the harbour and little mini adventures to other beaches. But this will all be very go with the flow. We could just as easily stay put in the property as it has its own swimming spot and everything we need.
- We leave lots and lots and lots of white space. With two young boys and NZ summer there will be plenty of beach time, and toy time, reading and reads. We can essentially do what we feel like in the moment.
Admittedly all of this is made easier because our values align and we all genuinely like and enjoy spending time together. But the themes that became clear to me circled around ease, a bit of novelty, fun, connection, opportunity for adventure, room for everyone to contribute and space to do what feels right for us.
We love this and I would highly recommend for anyone to try. But what I would recommend even more enthusiastically is to do your own self inventory. What really matters to you? Is it details and decorating, surprising everyone, do you love time in the kitchen, formal meals, music, big crowds, alone time, how does this align with who you are celebrating with? Do the traditions that are time consuming and a lot of work really matter to you? Why?
There are so many ways to create memorable experiences together. You can spend a lot of time, effort and money for a whole lot of stress. Or you can figure out what brings real meaning to your life and connect in those ways with love ones. This kind of connection is vital for our wellbeing.
So even if you are overseas and not able to be with loved ones or are here and celebrating with friends we encourage you to find the things that are meaningful to you and do those. And try to let go of the things that clutter your lengthy list of things to do but matter little to you. Let go of your ‘should’s’ and ‘supposed to’s’ and hopefully this becomes a daily practice and not just one reserved for the holidays.