When the Holidays Take Over…

By Kelly Goede

Every December, I’m filled with a swirl of emotions, wanting to create memories with my family and shrugging off the excessive materialism and comparison that seems to accompany this season of joy. And now with social media, not only do we try to do our best, but we now see what everyone else is doing (or wishes they were doing)… and we compare, and feel obligated, inadequate, guilty and just plain worn out. Here are some ways to know when the holidays take over:


…neighbors have compared your yard to the Griswolds’ and you received it as a compliment.

…you could open your own Bath & Body Works with your collection of holiday soaps.

…you’ve bought more than one Christmas tree just to incorporate your ten Pinterest decorating boards.

…you’ve accessorized yourself or your children with Christmas lights.

…your children’s hands are stained from one too many handprint reindeers/trees/snowmen/angels.

…your Elf on the Shelf has a larger wardrobe and busier extracurricular life than your children.

…something on you jingles…daily.

…Santa greets you by name when you are at the mall.

…your tacky Christmas sweater collection has its own closet.

…people regularly ask if you’ve been baking as your body lotion suggests a kitchen full of vanilla, gingerbread and peppermint.

…you’ve replaced your Facebook profile picture with one of your dog…wearing antlers.

The secret to enjoying the holiday season lies in our contentment with our lives year round, and being proactive about living a life you love requires intentionality. Theodore Roosevelt said that “comparison is the thief of joy,” with the holiday season magnifying the effect. Other people’s cookies are going to be more creative than ours, their parties a little more glamorous, their children always smiling. If we aren’t careful, we end up treating the holidays like a competition, and sadly it’s one that no one actually wins. The true meaning of the season lies in a spirit of giving, of simplicity, of investing in the people in our lives who are growing up quickly. Finding simple moments where the only agenda item is spending quality time with your family will reap more benefits than nailing a Pinterest creation or having the most innovative and creative contribution to your child’s class holiday party.

Creating an ornament together, reading a favorite holiday book, baking a simple holiday treat and watching movies together
all work to create sustainable holiday traditions. Ask yourself if what you’re doing is meaningful to your family. If the answer is no, then cut it loose, even if it was going to make you feel like the queen of all things Christmas.

By following our children’s leads and setting an example for them in the way we spend our time and money, we can abandon “keeping up with the Joneses” and create a holiday season that is truly special. The magic of the season is captured by living in the moment…being present and content with our families.