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Making Christmas Merry | It’s ok to have an “imperfect” Christmas. And it’s ok to say no.

Making Christmas Merry

Last time, we talked about making a priority list.

But we didn’t really talk about resisting the temptation to have a perfect Christmas (as defined by other people, not you and your priorities), and I wanted to talk a little bit about that today.

Here’s the thing. So many of us go through the Christmas season doing things because they are expected of us, or because it’s tradition, or because we want to be like the mom who has it all together, or because we think we can create a Norman Rockwell Christmas.

But you know what?

You don’t HAVE to operate that way.

There are no federal laws about this sort of thing, and it’s not like God came down from heaven with a decree about how we should celebrate Christmas (it wasn’t even His idea to make it a holiday anyway!)

So, consider yourself officially freed, ok? Go celebrate Christmas in a way that reflects your priorities, not the priorities of “everyone”.

(You know that everyone, don’t you? As in “everyone” does it this way. The phrase, “We’ve always done it this way.” is his cousin. You can ignore him too.)

Maybe your Christmas won’t meet the textbook definition of perfect, but if you operate in line with your priorities, your Christmas will be be way more fun and joyous than any “perfect” celebration.

You don’t have to bake a bazillion kinds of cookies.

You don’t have to have multiple Christmas trees.

You don’t have to go to a farm and chop down your own tree.

You don’t have to make your own Christmas cards.

(You don’t even have to send out Christmas cards, actually. I haven’t for lots of years now and I don’t think anyone has been offended.)

You don’t have to go to the office party.

You don’t have to buy gifts for everyone, even though the magazines say you should hand out tips and gifts to pretty much everyone you hired throughout the year.

You don’t have to make homemade quilted stockings for your whole family.

You don’t have to buy everything your children want. (Really. It’ll probably be good for them if you don’t.)

You don’t have to see all of your relatives.

You don’t have to see everyone on Christmas day.

You don’t have to have a traditional Christmas dinner.

You don’t have to have immaculately groomed children on Christmas Day.

You don’t have to have a perfectly clean, perfectly decorated house.

If the things you do at Christmastime serve the people around you, bring you joy, and reflect your priorities, then great! Carry on.

But if you feel like your past Christmases have left you and your bank account exhausted, then change something.

Maybe someone will be a little put out with you at first, but honestly, you might be surprised at how much of the Christmas pressure you feel is self-induced.

And when that’s the case, the world really will not end if you simplify things.


Do you find yourself doing things at Christmas because you feel like you have not, not because you really want to?

Or have you experienced an “Aha!” moment, where you realized you had the freedom to not do something at Christmas?


Next post in this series: 3 ways to lower children’s Christmas present expectations

Previous posts in this series:


Think more about serving and less about impressing.

Make a priority list.


Joshua’s 365 post: Lisey bought something musical (but it’s not a guitar).

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Tuesday 12th of November 2013

I completely agree with you, and have simplified things in our home for the last several years. It's been wonderful! Probably the one thing that made the biggest difference was when we started celebrating Christmas with our grown children on the day after Christmas (the 26th) so they could be with their in-laws and other relatives on Christmas day. My sweet daughter-in-law thanked me for making such a sacrifice. I then confessed to her that I actually felt a bit selfish. She seemed a bit bewildered so I then explained that with having them here the day after Christmas, they didn't have to rush off somewhere else and we could spend hours and hours, all day if we want, together. It's been great!

Susan H.

Wednesday 31st of October 2012

I've done photo Christmas cards every year since I've been married. We send out 125-150 of them. I'm actually thinking of stopping that practice. I'm the only one that works on the card and letter. Does anyone care about Christmas cards anymore?


Wednesday 31st of October 2012

I think a lot of that has changed with the advent of the internet. Before, we could go a whole year without seeing a photo of the people we know, but who live far away. But with Facebook and email and everything else the internet offers, it's hard to NOT see or hear from someone in the space of a year.

So, I've decided this is something that I can just let go of.


Sunday 21st of October 2012

I definitely do more than I'd like at Christmas...and most holidays for that matter. I'd have put a stop to it a long time ago but my hubby doesn't want to. He wants to keep everyone happy and he also has more fun than me with all the gatherings, etc since I do most of the prep to facilitate it. :( One day.....holidays will be relaxing iinstead of stressful.

Tiffany R

Monday 15th of October 2012

Thank you for this post, I emailed it to my husband. I get stressed out every year from Thanksgiving and Christmas and I really want it to stop. Part of it is the pressure I put on myself for the holiday to be wonderful and part of it is expectations of extended family. This year I am letting go of Christmas cards and the yearly calendar that I put together for everyone. No one else in our families does as much as I do for the holidays and the stress from doing it all makes the holidays miserable. So, yeah for a simple Christmas!


Saturday 13th of October 2012

Kristen, Thank you so much for your Christmas series! I am so in need of hearing everything that you have written. It is so refreshing to me to consider scaling back and really finding the joy in Christmas instead of doing things "just because". God bless.

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