Making the Christmas season more peaceful – Tip #5

#5. It needs to be more meaningful.

Darci at Christmas

 

Make it more meaningful. Traditions do that. Create more traditions. Here are some of ours. We celebrate LangMas on the first snow fall (order supper and a Christmas movie). The Christmas tree goes up on November 1st. We buy a new ornament each year that reflects our year. Celebrate your religious traditions. These will be what our children remember.

Growing up, my favourite tradition was the search for the perfect Charlie Brown Christmas tree with my dad. He and I would bring it home in his Volkswagen beetle with the top down and set it up in our tiny little house. Funny I don’t remember a single present I ever received but I sure remember these special times with my dad.

Making the Christmas season more peaceful – Tip #4

#4. Family dynamics come into play.
Don’t let them. Put your hand on the door knob of the house you are about to enter this season and choose to see the 90%s of the people on the other side. Before you enter breath deeply and choose love first. Change your family dynamics by changing you. Don’t drag the past to every family gathering.

I grew up and around five different families and all the excitement that comes with that. It was very interesting for me to watch how people would park their differences around the holidays. Husbands could pick up children from ex-wives and still come and have a drink with their children’s new family.

There is a new sitcom called “The Neighbours” about a regular family living amongst a neighbourhood of aliens who have taken human form. What I love is how they mock how humans behave. In one episode, the “human” mother-in-law visits her daughter-in-law and is very hard on her and makes the visit very difficult. The alien son asks her why she treats her daughter-in-law that way. When the woman explains that the generations of her family have always treated the daughter-in-law unfairly, it’s just what they do. The alien boy told her to go back in the house and be nice to her instead. The boy challenged her to “change the game”. Maybe its time for you to “change the game” with your families.

Making the Christmas season more peaceful – Tip #3

#3. It costs too much.
Stop spending so much. We only buy for the children in our immediate family. Set spending caps with your families and stick to them. My friends and I do not buy for each others’ children.  At the beginning of the year, start a Christmas budget, start saving a small amount each month.  Teacher’s gifts are small donations to charities. We like to teach our children to be grateful for what they have by being grateful for what we have.

Our daughter Jayda is very concerned about the environment and is always challenging us to recycle and reuse. So we reuse as many Christmas bags as possible and wrap in recycled paper. Or we wrap in the comic section of the newspaper. Rather than use gift tags, John had the idea to simply write on each package with a felt pen. So now once they are done (not me!) wrapping the presents for their cousins, they draw wonderful greetings on them with their felt markers! You should see how our presents look next to the family members who do love wrapping the perfect gift!

I buy that paper on clearance at the end of the season and throw it in the Christmas decoration box.

I stopped sending Christmas cards and Christmas letters.

What can you do to cut down on the costs?

Making the Christmas season more peaceful – Tip #2

#2. There is too much to do.
Stop doing so much.  Take a good look at your list of things to do and ask what you can eliminate or delegate. Consider buying your baking, giving gift cards and letting your children wrap the presents. 

I love to observe shoppers close to Christmas. Didn’t they know Christmas was coming?  Early in November, I carve out a day. I grab a big green tea and I head to the store with my children’s wish lists and I am done by the end of the day.

I remember the Christmas my grandmother ordered Christmas dinner. Yup, ordered it. And my grandmother was one of those women who really loved making the meal. She would cook all day then actually stand in the kitchen and watch us all eat first. It was her way of enjoying the fruits of her labours. But this Christmas her health was not great and she did not want to deplete by the “doing”. A local caterer showed up with a complete turkey meal with all the fixings! I remember putting those large foil take out containers into the garbage and thinking, this is awesome, no dishes to do after.

So our special friends are coming for supper tomorrow. We have ordered a Ukrainian feast from a local restaurant. We will simply reheat it all and throw out (and recycle!) the containers. I can’t wait. Rather than cooking and cleaning, we will be visiting and playing games.

Making the Christmas season more peaceful – Tip #1

Let’s talk about making the Christmas season more peaceful.

I just wrote a booster about  5 ways to keep Christmas peaceful. Let’s look at a different one every few days until we get to Christmas

#1. The season never seems long enough.

Start it earlier. Because of my colourful childhood, I have many families to celebrate with. We decided that trying to cram in all in a weekend was too stressful. So now we start in November and spread the family visits over many weekends. Trust me that makes it feel longer! By mid-December the only Christmas left is Christmas morning when Santa arrives.

Or what if you made it last after Christmas? We have scheduled some of our Christmas visits for AFTER Christmas. Rather than trying to quickly see everyone before, we say, why not get together in the New Year and celebrate that instead? The gatherings are always really fun meals, centered on our resolutions, what the New Year brings etc. rather than sitting around a table before Christmas talking about how busy we are and how much we have to do before Christmas arrives.

Think before you speak – remains true today.

As indicated in my September newsletter (read it here), considering if things are true, necessary or kind in my mind are essential before opening your mouth. If more people were that considerate the world would be a much better place. I would like to add to that for you.

I have always subscribed to the THINK before you speak method.

T – Is it True?

H – Is it Honest?

I – Is it Intelligent?

N – Is it Nice?

K – Is it Kind?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then perhaps you should consider not expressing it. A friend shared this with me many years ago and I have always considered it one of the best gifts anyone has every given me.

The Cell Phone Solution

Cell phones are everywhere.  The 90% about them is we can keep track of our kids, coordinate our busy schedules and catch up with friends whenever we have a moment. The 10% is that some people never put them down.

Cell Basket
I met a beautiful woman named Janice in my presentation last week who shared a great idea she got from Pinterest (www.pinterest.com) about how to ask people to put away their phones in a very positive way.  It was the picture of a basket with a note attached that said, “BE with the friends that are HERE.”

Janice used the idea to encourage her friends to leave their cell phones in the basket at the door so they could be fully present at her party.

I love this idea! I am not someone who is tied to technology and it is wonderful to get back to basics and have real meals and real visits with people who are “here”.

Just do it!

I travel every week (spring and fall) so I need to be very organized in my office.  I’m often asked how I find time to write, work on my presentations and do all the things that have to happen in a business — how I stay focused on what is important without getting lost in the 10%. Speaking at a home based business conference, I shared with my audience that I treat my days in the office like the day before you go on holidays. You know those great days? Friday before you go away? You have this renewed energy. You are ruthless with which emails are priority and you dump any that are not of value. You switch on your voice mail and dig right in. You don’t worry about the one complaint. You find a way to make the customer happy and you move on.

That is how I work. I try to treat my work days as the day before holiday days. I don’t go for long coffee breaks and extended lunches. I just work. I don’t read an email twice. When I have attachments to send I attach them before I draft the email then I don’t forget and have to go back. I never touch a piece of mail twice. I don’t make a note to email someone. I email them the second I think of it.

So ask yourself, If this truly was the day before your vacation, what would you do first, differently etc”. Oh and quit telling people how busy you are. No one cares! And the time you spent telling them, you could have been working!

I have. I can. I will

Before I speak I like to interview a portion of my audience. I ask them questions related to my upcoming presentation…tell me about the 90%s and 10%’s of your job, with the people you work with and with your clients. Then I ask them a personal question that they can decide if they want to answer.   I ask if they are working on anything in their own personal development journey because I believe that  most of us are “works in progress”! It is so interesting learning about people and what they are doing to improve their lives.

I asked one of my audience members if I could share with you what she wrote.  Her response on my questionaire was, “ I have. I can. I will.” She went on to explain to me that she has in the past sought ways to be happier. She can always find ways to improve herself. She will always be committed to do that.

Great advice.

Changed?

A man approached me after I spoke one day and asked me, “Do you think people will leave here changed?”

It is amazing to me that people think that one presentation, one book, one PBS special will change them. Changing requires lots of work. Trust me, I know this first hand. It is about going to many seminars, reading many books, eating food that nourishes you and makes you feel happy, it is about taking care of your body so you have energy to face whatever life hands you, it is about hanging out with people that add value to your life, and it’s about putting your family first so you don’t live with regrets.

So no, I don’t think they leave changed. But my hope is…they leave inspired enough to say, “I do want to be happier. Now what do I need to do to make that happen?”