The holidays are magical and sparkly and...BUSY. Sometimes even, dare I say, stressful. This time of year can so quickly become something Else, something out of control, something less magical, less meaningful, and we sometimes feel mired in all that busy-ness. I think we often forget that it's the small things, the small acts, that mean the most....to the receiver AND the giver.
I think we need to give ourselves a break. I think we need to focus on what is important.
Having the most lit house on the block is great IF it is fun and joyful for you. But if it's a stressful, peer-pressured thing, don't do it.
Let the Griswold's story be a cautionary tale.
Take the pressure off.
Keep it simple.
One big, easy decoration on your lawn or porch is often a better bang for your effort than lots of time-consuming details. Think of Griswold
When we take the pressure of 'perfection' off ourselves and focus on what the holidays truly mean to us (spiritual/family/fellowship/philanthropy/peace/etc.), well, the magic and spirit of the holidays return. It frees time and money to do more of what matters and less of what doesn't.
Like Buddy says in the movie ELF:
(singing is free. watching holiday movies with your family is free. both are FUN and those memories will last a lifetime.)
Rather than keeping up with the Jones of the world, we can focus on being kind: to ourselves and to others...and have fun doing it.
There is a very special kind of joy that we get by giving. It builds self-esteem and good will, reduces stress and depression that sometimes hits during the holidays--for the giver and the receiver.
And spreading (small & easy) Holiday Cheer is FUN! The kids will love being Kindness Ambassador Elves.
Here are a few of my simple Holiday RACK (random acts of Christmas Kindness) ideas (many are free, all are easy, fast and fun):
Take in treats/candy to leave in the kitchen/staff-room at your work/office.
Donate all the change from your purse or pocket to the Salvation Army bell-ringer.
Make a meal (double your evening's dinner recipe) for a neighbor, friend, loved one.
Leave exact change for a soda or snack in a baggie taped to the vending machine.
Volunteer to do a craft or read a story at your local library or nursing home.
Donate extra pantry items to your local food bank/women's shelter/homeless shelter.
Send a handwritten letter to a dear friend or family member.
Pay for the coffee of the person behind you in line.
Tape a roll of quarters to a college area laundromat machine...or on a campus.
Take the kids for a drive to look at the lights in your area (with a thermos of hot cocoa) and tape a thank you card (maybe with a donation gift card or a Snowman Soup) to the 'winner' of the most festive house, thanking them for all their work for everyone to enjoy.
And here are some free printouts from the lovely Lindsay at Pillow Talk (and she has lots more cute idea, complete with photos) you can use with your RAKs.