When I sat down to write this article, my point was going to be a simple holiday season would allow for gratitude to flow in more freely. That’s usually my campaign. But the more I thought about it, I realized 2020 is hardly the year for austere measures.
Before we begin, let me say one thing: If your holiday season is anything but austere, count yourself blessed. There are so many people suffering from illness, job loss, discrimination, grief, etc., that if you’re able to celebrate with any amount of gusto, you’re one of the lucky ones.
There is typically so much pressure, and thus a lack of gratitude, during this season that what follows is what I need to hear (and I’m guessing what is what you might need to hear, too).
I worry what this holiday season could look like in our virtual lives, given the intensity of sourdough bread-making and closet organizing that took place back in the spring. Every time I logged onto Instagram, yet another influencer had baked the perfect loaf of bread with her four beautiful children, who were all dressed in a rainbow of neutral colors in a pristine white kitchen.
Or maybe it wasn’t the perfect influencer who made us question every decision we’d ever made. Maybe it was a college friend who’d spent the weekend purging and organizing every single closet in her home, posting before and after photos worthy of a magazine spread, that led to feelings of laziness for spending the evening watching yet another episode of Emily in Paris rather than Marie Kondo-ing every square inch of your home.
By all measures, so many of us felt like we were failing quarantine.
And I have a feeling that in our Insta-worthy culture, a lot of us (moms especially) are going to feel like we’re failing the holidays.
It’s not like the holidays aren’t hard enough on moms. Every year, we feel the pressure to do all the things, to bake all the goods, to find the perfect gifts, and to spread copious amounts of joy at every moment. Which is why, in normal times, I advocate for slowing down, paring down, and prioritizing.
These measures still have a place in our 2020 holiday season; there’s no need to go tinseltown crazy if you can barely make it to 8:00 p.m. without falling asleep on the couch. With many activities and events being reoriented or canceled altogether, we’ll likely be left with a little bit more breathing room. And with that time to breathe, maybe we ought to do just that.
If going on social media triggers you to feel shame or like you’re not doing enough for your family, don’t get on it. Unfollow or mute the “supermoms” who make you feel bad about yourself. I’d contend that social media is the number one destroyer of joy, and it will be no different this holiday season.
Do what you want to do this season and leave the rest. Don’t want to bake Christmas goodies with your two-year-old? Dear God, me neither. Don’t have it in you to make bespoke salt dough ornaments of all your kiddos handprints to mail to grandparents? Don’t.
Or maybe, on the flip side, putting up every twinkle light you can find at Target will bring you joy like no other; do it! Maybe a Christmas tree in every window of your house or an extra special Advent calendar is right up your alley. Maybe you and your kids make green and red construction paper chains until your fingers fall off. Or you watch Elf every night in December. If it brings you joy, go all in.
So all that to say: Take that breathing room and empty calendar, and turn it into your own kind of magic.