Over the last year I’ve been working to determine what is essential. What is it about my life, my career, and my focus that is non-negotiable? What am I simply not willing to push aside for the sake of something else? For me, those things are faith, family, and health. If anything takes away from my essentials, then it’s a hard pass. Work on Sunday? That takes away from church (faith), so it’s a no from me. A weekend trip with the girls? That costs money and time that at this point in my life needs to be used for my family, so also a no. Remembering what my essentials are helps me determine what is a yes and what is a no. It makes decision-making easier and allows time and room to breathe. It also makes me a much more pleasant person to be around.
How does this apply to Christmas, you may be asking?
Every year we are bombarded with ALL THE CHRISTMAS THINGS. Yes, there are the oodles of commercials for the things we just have to buy because it’s Christmas and it’s on sale, but there are also the charities, parties, cookie swaps, Christmas lights, decorations, ice skating, Santa Clausing, traveling to see family, pictures, cards, adventures…the list is endless. They are all good things, so it’s nearly impossible to say no. I mean, who wants to turn down a cookie swap? I love cookies!
I’ve found, though, that saying yes to all the good things makes life crowded, stressful, and bad. In my effort to make Christmas magical, years past have been far from it.
This Christmas, taking all I’ve learned about the essential life over the last several months, I am embracing The Essential Christmas. I’m practicing the quick no and the slow yes. I am not committing to things just because they’re good or fun or valuable. I am posting my essentials in the forefront of my mind and saying no to anything that doesn’t fit.
What is it that is absolutely non-negotiable for you this season? Is it spending Christmas morning in your pjs, watching your kids open their gifts? Awesome! That means you say no to holiday travel. Are you all in on the holiday baking? Sweet! That means instead of agreeing to go to that nativity play, you’re going to say yes to your friend’s cookie swap…and that is OK! Do nights out wear you out? Then say no to evening parties and say yes to spending time at home watching Christmas movies.
Make a list. Decide right here and now what it is that you are absolutely set on making a priority this holiday season. Then, when the invites start rolling in, look at your list. Does it add to or take away from your priorities? If it adds, say yes. If it takes away, say no. Still unsure? If it’s not a clear yes, then it’s a no.
We are unbelievably fortunate to have so many opportunities to celebrate the holidays, but that means we have to be the ultimate life editors. You simply can’t fit it all in between November 29 and December 25. I’m giving you permission to say no.