“Help! Holiday Prep Makes Me Miserable!!” – Holiday Prep, Part 2 of 3 (Christmas/Holidays Unplugged)

By , November 20, 2007 8:17 pm

If this photo depicts the extent of your holiday decorating ambitions, then please read on…


The votes are in!

Am I, Mom Unplugged, a Type 1 “Holiday Slacker” or Type 2 “Holiday Overachiever?” Three of you think I am a Type 2 and two of you voted Type 1.

I am really extremely flattered that the majority of you think I am Type 2…but the real answer? I am so NOT a Type 2!!

I am the biggest Type 1 Holiday Slacker around. That old wreath and dusty artificial tree example? That is me. Except I actually put up TWO wreaths every year thank you very much! (Actually it is only because I have to since I have a double front door.)

So today’s post is for any other slacker-types out there.

If you are a Holiday Slacker and you are comfortable with your level of activity (or lack thereof), then that is great and perhaps you should be writing this post instead of me!

However, most of us who really do dislike all the Holiday fuss and preparation feel somewhat compelled to put on a brave face and make an effort anyhow, sometimes making ourselves miserable in the process.

So how can we change our lot and either manage to happily do more than we would like to, or come to terms with the fact that we are not going to do much? I don’t really know the answer to that, but I can put forth some suggestions. If you have any others, please feel free to leave them in the comments.

My best advice is to think about why you feel compelled to bake, decorate, and generally overachieve despite not really wanting to:

1) Is it because you think your family expects it?

Why not talk to your family and/or spouse about what they want out of Christmas. You may think they want the Perfect Holiday House, but perhaps all they really want is a Perfectly Happy Holiday You. If you are silently hating every minute that you spend accomplishing your required holiday tasks (or tasks that YOU perceive to be required), how positive and joyful can you really be with your family?

If your family does indeed want more than just an artificial tree and dusty old wreath, then have them help too. Why should you be the one to do it all? Christmas is a family time and even if your spouse would rather watch football and your teens would rather hang out with their friends, make them the deal that decorating and baking will occur only with their help.

If it is really that important to them, then they’ll probably be willing to join in. Once they do, they will probably even enjoy it (although those teens might be too cool to admit that to you). You will almost certainly enjoy it more too if you no longer feel that you are shouldering the holiday burden alone. You might even have fun!

2) You want to create a “magical Christmas” for your children?

There is a good chapter in Unplug the Christmas Machine: A Complete Guide to Putting Love and Joy Back into the Season entitled “The Four Things Children Really Want for Christmas” (read my post about this great book here). I’ll let you read the book for all the details, but basically kids want family time for Christmas. If you are rushing about madly trying to “do it all,” then you probably aren’t going to have time / energy or be much in the mood for family time with the kids.

It is the simple memories that stick with kids. Think back to your own childhood holidays. Hopefully you can dig up at least a few happy memories. What are they? Do you remember exactly what presents you got or how well the house was decorated? Probably not.

You might remember going with your Dad to cut a tree, or baking cookies with your Mom, or sitting in your pajamas on a parent’s lap and reading The Night Before Christmas. Or maybe one year you all got snowed in and played board games while eating peanut butter sandwiches. Or perhaps one year you had a “camp out ” in the living room under the Christmas tree.

Don’t get sucked into Hallmark’s vision of a “magical Christmas.” In reality, a “magical Christmas” for children doesn’t require much apart from some time and attention from Mom and Dad.

3) You read women’s magazines or watch Martha Stewart and feel that commercial and social pressure to do it all?

Think realistically. Do you know how many months of work of full-time artists and professional designers it must take to create those magazine “perfect Holiday” decors? Neither do I, but I suspect that it is a ton. If you LIKE to do that stuff then please, by all means do it and have fun. But if you have read this far in my post, you are probably like me and do not enjoy it. So don’t bother. You’ll never be able to achieve that result and you’ll only make yourself (and your family) miserable trying. Enough said.

(And next year, please simply take those December issues out of the mailbox and put them straight into the recycle bin!)

4) Was / is your mother a Holiday overachiever or underachiever?

My mother didn’t much care for Christmas prep either and I guess I am following happily in her footsteps. So for those of you who have Holiday overachieving mothers, I can see that you might feel compelled (either consciously or not) to live up to her seemingly impossible standard.

If your mother was a Holiday underachiever and you desperately wish to be different from your mother, then perhaps that is the source of your drive to “do it all” even though deep down inside, it is not really what you want to do.

My guest blogger for tomorrow’s post, a Type 2 writing about Type 2 organizational issues, begins her post by attributing her stellar organizational abilities to her mother’s lack of organization! Whether we like it or not, mothers influence us in many unforeseen and complicated ways.

I will not attempt any deep psychoanalysis here, but by acknowledging that our urge to unwillingly overdo it as stemming from a feeling of “needing” to be like or not like our mothers, perhaps that is the first step towards accepting that we should just be who we are and do what we really want or don’t want and get off the Holiday Hamster Wheel!


Next post: for the Type 2 Holiday Achievers out there who actually LIKE doing this stuff – tips on how to sequence and organize all that wonderful Holiday prep so you can really “do it all” and still enjoy yourself. The post will be written by a Master Holiday Organizer (hint…it is not me).

Read all the Christmas/Holidays Unplugged posts by clicking here.

Thank you to morguefile.com and photographer messa for this sweet photo of Diego.

9 Responses to ““Help! Holiday Prep Makes Me Miserable!!” – Holiday Prep, Part 2 of 3 (Christmas/Holidays Unplugged)”

  1. Cloudscome says:

    You make some really good points here about how we get sucked into feeling like we have to do it all. Spending time hanging out in PJs is what I look forward to the most about the holidays so that is top of my list this year!

  2. Karen (Pediascribe) says:

    Ok, I didn’t read the entire post (sorry, way to busy to get through my blog reading) but I, too, am MOST definitely a type 2! We put up the tree. I hang my Christmas themed cross stitch pieces. We put stockings on the mantle on Christmas eve. That’s it. I used to have all sorts of decorations and bows and garland up the staircase, and candles, and whatnot, but I’ve found we have an even better holiday if mom isn’t stressed about getting out (and then putting away) holiday decorations.
    Apparently, I’m good at being a type 2 holiday slacker because my Mickey Mouse wreath on the front door is still sporting 4th of July red, white and blue ribbons.

    Btw, awhile back, I mentioned to you that I bought a cross stitch pattern that used Bamboo floss. You wanted me to let you know how it was….

    I LOVE IT! :) The feel of it is very soft. It’s much smoother than regular XS floss but not quite as smooth and slippery as the silk floss I’ve used. It’s fairly easy to stitch with although with it’s extra smoothness it tends to slip right out of the needle if I’m not careful. :)

    Thought you’d like to know. :)

  3. CelticMommy says:

    Sorry I’m so late to comment… the list of thigns to do today for tomorrow is pretty long. I hope everyone loves the blog.

    If I don’t get a chance to talk with you personally, I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
    :-) Hettie

  4. HomeschoolJourney says:

    Interesting post. I had you figured for a type 2, but wasn’t sure.

    I like where your going here. My mother was a type 2 and I’ve tried to follow her footsteps. This year I’m going unplugged with our “pioneer Christmas” unit study. I’ll keep you posted. Literally. ha!

  5. Elizabeth Coplan says:

    How true! How true! I found out last year that the holidays was not about the decorations. After a severe storm that rocked the Pacific Northwest, we were without power for 8 days. It finally came back on December 23rd. I was not planning to put decorations up at all, but my children had favorite decorations that wanted. So we had a streamlined decoration party and now I know what is really important to them (and to me). I think we’ll pretend there’s a power outage this year too. (Of course, we may not need to pretend. Ah, Mother Nature!)

    Glad to have found you again Mom Unplugged.
    Cheers, Elizabeth at A Wild Ride

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