Regaining Balance this Christmas
Christmas season is nearly upon us and holidays are usually a hectic time of year. It’s funny how when a busy time approaches, we know that balance is best. But why is it that these three simple words are so difficult to achieve? Isn’t that the way with so many things in life? Easier said than done!
For myself, my mental to-do list is getting longer the closer we get to Christmas. There are decorations to hang, presents to buy, school Christmas fairs and concerts to prepare for and then attend, family functions to plan, including what food and gifts to bring and don’t forget the all important teacher gifts! If you’re expecting to read some foolproof, magical formula to achieve balance this Christmas, this is not it. But what I can do is tell you how I hope to achieve a little balance this holiday season...
One Day at a Time
When things get busy around the holidays, my head gets swarmed with the things I need to do, places I need to go and functions I need to attend. There’s no way around being busy, but my plan is to just take it one day at a time. I can’t put my life on hold and ignore my other responsibilities just to do all those extras that go along with Christmas, but I can accomplish one thing at a time and take one day at a time. Rather than looking too far ahead at my long list of things to do, I’ll pick one thing I can accomplish and focus on that. It also helps to have a little bit of a game plan or timeline in mind to make sure you accomplish your task on time, like baking for the Christmas fair or preparing teacher gifts. There’s no harm giving yourself deadlines, but be sure to leave yourself enough time. Spread things out if possible. If there are things you can do early, like decorating or shopping, doing those things early so you can leave things like baking and cooking until the day before your function. I know that taking one day at a time and planning ahead a little will take the stress out of the equation and help me enjoy the holidays even more.
One Meal at a Time, One Treat at a Time
One thing I love about the holidays is the treats! To say I have a sweet tooth is an understatement. There are certain foods and treats from my family traditions that only appear at Christmas; Dutch treats like chocolate letters, stroopwaffels (thin ‘syrup’ waffle cookies), oliebollen (raisin and/or apple donuts with icing sugar), kniepertjes (New Year’s cookies) and boeterkoek (butter cake). Then there are stockings full of candy and the holiday meal (or should I say meals) with turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings. Over the last year and a half I have been much more conscious of nutrition. I like to eat a diet balanced with healthy fruits, vegetables, proteins and carbohydrates, as well as healthy fats. The problem with my favourite treats is that it is so easy to overindulge. If I were to be so strict with my nutrition I would not be ‘allowed’ any treats – and I’d be miserable come holiday time. This is where balance is key. There’s not harm in enjoying a small sample of my favourite treats. I can adjust my nutrition that day accordingly and ensure that once the holiday festivities are over, my nutrition is back on track. Or better yet, if you know you have a holiday meal coming up, make that day your ‘cheat’ day. When your cheat day is over, pick up right where you left off. You don’t have to be perfect all the time! The holidays are certainly not the time to restrict yourself. The most important thing is to enjoy your treat and then get yourself back on track right away.
One Celebration at a Time
With holidays comes celebration and who doesn’t love to celebrate? I guess the bigger question might be how many times or how many functions do you have to attend this Christmas? From family celebrations, to parties with friends, to work parties, the list may be long. Thankfully, I only have two family celebrations at Christmas and a work party that doesn’t take place until January, when everyone has a little more time. Often there’s travelling involved and that can be both time consuming and stressful depending on how far you have to go. For one of my family functions there will be travelling involved, but the other will be right next door. Family celebrations are busy and noisy and there’s food to prepare and messes to clean up. My plan this Christmas is to just relish in the celebration and remember how truly blessed I am. Rather than the size of the gift, or the cost, I will focus on the giving and just be thankful I have gifts to give. I often feel like my own kids get spoiled each Christmas, and I want them to focus on more than the gifts. To remember that Christmas is about family, friends and fellowship, and for our family, celebrating the birth of Jesus. Yes, they will get toys and other things off their Wish List, but my husband and I also plan to give them the gift of an experience. It may be a Monster Jam show or taking them to a Safari – we haven’t yet decided. But I know that for my kids, it’s the experiences that they remember and look forward to each year. Do what’s right for your family and for the stage your kids are at. And be sure to let the ones you love know how much you mean to them – not only with gifts, but with words and actions.
One day at a time. One meal or treat at a time. One celebration at a time. Balance is the best. I’m not sure I’ll achieve the balance I crave, but I do know I will enjoy the time spent with family and friends.