Simplifying the Holidays

Welcome to the December Mindful Mama Carnival: Staying Mindful During the Holiday Season

This post was written for inclusion in the Mindful Mama Carnival hosted by Becoming Crunchy and TouchstoneZ. This month our participants
have shared how they stay mindful during the holiday season. Please read to
the end to find a list of links to the other carnival


Our family celebrates Halcyon and the Solstice, along with some other holidays such as Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. It’s something that is at odds with the area of the country we live in, where one is bombarded with Christmas every time you step foot out of the door. In previous years, I think I have, to some extent, tried to normalize my children’s experience, one based on a need for authenticity, by trying to do too much – making all of our gifts by hand, planning fun activities to go along with our solstice calendar, finding all-inclusive activities in which we can participate without the insistance that everyone must celebrate Christmas.

An incident this summer, in which several people told me that I should not expect all-inclusive winter events and activities to be accepting of everyone participating, had me re-evaluating things. I realized that I was trying to find community in the wrong places. I looked at the 5 dozen blown out eggshells I had collected with plans to make lovely hand-painted krysanky ornaments and realized how ridiculous it all was. I began cutting things out – ornament exchanges, card exchanges outside of our normal list, large group events, etc.

Then I reminded myself that simple living isn’t only about handmade. So, while I have made most of my children’s stoclittle items and gifts, I decided it was okay to not make everything myself. I don’t have the energy to do everything, and I was the only one who really expected it of me. So, I purchased comfortable pajamas to give our children on Solstice Night rather than sewing them. We found a $9 gingerbread house kit which took so much work off my back and was more affordable then if we had purchased supplies for the kids to decorate a homemade version. WE ordered fewer holiday cards this year to mail.

We scrapped coming up with something special to do everyday and vowed to celebrate just our family and Halcyon however we saw fit each day. It’s been relaxing and calming, and our little family has enjoyed the season just as much; I have enjoyed it more. So, we make our special treats together, play games, watch movies, snuggle, share our memories and talk about everything important to us and forget about the rest of the world. Sure, we still make gifts for others and donate to families  in need, something we do regardless of the time of year. However, we are remembering that we aren’t about the holidays – the holidays are about us.


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16 thoughts on “Simplifying the Holidays

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  1. Wonderful post. All it takes sometimes, is a switch in perspective! It’s amazing sometimes how much more difficult we make things when we do what we think others expect, instead of doing what is important to us. great point!

  2. Good for you for giving yourself a break! I completely agree that sometimes when we examine the pressure we feel, we realize it is mostly – or exclusively – coming from ourselves rather than others. I hope all of your holidays are wonderful!

  3. I have to say that I’m very impressed with all the handmade things – but also completely understand passing them by this year! It can be very difficult to find that balance between tradition and ‘doing’ the holiday wholeheartedly while still remembering what it’s all really for. We’re working on scaling back as well this year, and I’ve a feeling it will seem very worth it when we look back on it all. 🙂

    Thank you for sharing this awesome inspiration!

  4. I clicked over to read about your Halcyon tradition — I love it. I find the darkness of this time of year so oppressive; what better way to observe its impermanence but through candlelight? Plus, it’s so simple. I think that we may be adding this ritual to our traditions next year. Thank you.

  5. I enjoyed reading the journey of your family working outside the mainstream model but still ending up stressed out because of too much pressure on yourself because that sounds like me too. At this point I have just about given up on any obligations to holidays. I’m really looking forward to reacquainting myself with Solstice this year and inviting my children into the magic of planetary shifts. I like the idea of ‘make our special treats together, play games, watch movies, snuggle, share our memories and talk about everything important to us and forget about the rest of the world’ Thanks so much for sharing your process.

  6. Thank you for participating in the Mindful Mama Carnival.

    Your last line about remember the holidays are about us rings so true. I hadn’t thought about it in quite this way before “we aren’t about the holidays.” Yes! It is so easy to get caught up in other people’s or, more likely, our own ideas about what we should be doing or what we want to be doing for the holidays that we lose sight of the central meaning.

    Simplifying, saying no, and connecting with what is important to us gives us the freedom to breathe and be mindful. We can handle the stresses better. Things matter less and being with ourselves and those we love matter more.

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