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How to Prevent Yourself and Your Holidays From Going Up in Flames

Dec 02, 2020

About 18 years ago I decided I should sew matching Christmas dresses for my girls for Christmas. Money was very tight and I figured this was the best way for my girls to look picture perfect in all those Christmas pictures we'd take.

I found an easy pattern and some inexpensive Christmas fabric. There I was, sitting at the kitchen table of our little apartment on Christmas eve frantically sewing these dresses so they would be ready the next day.

To help the Christmas spirit in our little apartment, I also had a Christmas candle burning on the same kitchen table.

As I took one dress out of the sewing machine and set it aside to grab the next one I inadvertently placed the dress on the burning candle. Within a few moments, the dream of having my girls in matching, hand-sewn Christmas dresses went up in flames.

With 5 kids in a small 3 bedroom apartment I often look back and wonder what I was thinking. Matching dresses would have been cute, but they certainly weren't worth the stress and hassle of what I had to put into them. 

Early in our marriage I would read magazine articles that shared unique holiday ideas. Then came the birth of the internet, social media, Pinterest, and blogs. The world opened up and I saw some wonderful things other families did. 

So. Many. Things.

30 days of cookies, Elf on a Shelf, wrapped Christmas books to unwrap and open each day in December, advent calendars, crafts with your kids, neighbor gifts, teacher gifts, lights to see, activities to participate in, money to spend, homemade ornaments, more cookies to make, more crafts to do, more decorations to create, and ALL THE THINGS!

I have always wanted to try new traditions and celebrate the old traditions. I want to create memories for my kids so that when they look back at their holiday seasons they remember good times.

I didn't even hear about Elf on a Shelf until I had birthed half my kids. What was this phenomenon? What would my kids miss if I didn't have an elf? What holiday magic were their friends getting who did have an elf? Should I start this tradition? What would it take? Maybe it would be fun. Maybe my kids would look back and regret that their family didn't have an elf. What if my kids got left out of school or conversations or LIFE because THEY DIDN'T HAVE AN ELF???? 

*Note how quickly my brain escalates things when FOMO comes raging through.*

When I take that same FOMO train of thought and add it to all the other things I see people do, I drive myself crazy. 

I pretty much want my holidays to look like this.

When in reality they can easily end up looking more like this.

The fear of not being enough for my kids is so real that some holidays I sacrifice my own mental health to be enough. I end up FEELING like that picture of a deflated Santa above.


When we moved to our new house a few months ago I found a box of gifts that I bought for a previous Christmas a few years back that I had lost. 

Every year I seem to hide those brown Amazon boxes SO GOOD that I hide them from myself. The week of Christmas eve is spent frantically looking through everything trying to find where I put the things I bought.

With seven kids, the amount of organization it took to make sure we had purchased everything and had made things as equal as possible for each kid was EXHAUSTING. Many Christmas Eves were spent rummaging through whatever presents I had stashed for birthday parties or future birthdays to try to fill in the gaps where one child lacked. 

So many Christmas days I woke up from a few hours of sleep not just physically exhausted but completely mentally spent.

It would take weeks to feel like I was back to my old self again. 

If I could walk back in time and give myself advice I would tell myself to stop. Stop trying to keep up. Stop burning the candle at both ends (and the hand-sewn dresses). Stop trying to appease other people. Stop trying to be what I thought everyone wanted me to be.

Just be you.

Fear of missing out is so real for most of us that it can be crippling. So right now, I am giving you permission to STOP.

You don't have to do it all. 

Your kids will be okay if they don't have the same experiences as other kids.

Your own traditions are as good as any other family's traditions.

Say no to extra things.

Under schedule your family.

Go to bed early.

Sit and just look at your tree.

Just BE.

I ran into this cute graphic this past week on self-care during the holidays that really spoke to me.

Which of the above tips speaks to you?

As you reflect for a moment, consider what your expectations are and what they need to be.

You do not need to wear matching pajamas.

The Elf can spend time in another home.

Your neighbors will be fine if they don't get a plate of home baked goods this year.

Send out virtual Christmas cards if you need to.

I give you permission to take care of yourself. Make YOU a priority. 

Perhaps this gift to yourself will be the one that will be remembered long after the holidays are over.

You can be resilient and thrive this holiday season! 

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