Let’s just say I wasn’t the jolliest Christmas elf you’ve ever met!

Back when my three boys were little, December meant the fun of watching their faces light up Christmas morning but not before a wave of obligations, chaos, clutter, and exhaustion.

It was also often the busiest month of the year for our business and my husband Peter would comehome exhausted.

I would race around like a bedraggled, cocaine addled elf… to town shopping returning to wrap gifts and prepare dozens of homemade cakes and goodies (despite not being the best baker).

Christmas Day, we’d attend an extended family Christmas celebration… because mum said it wasthe right thing to do.

The boys would protest and resist getting dressed up as they wanted to stay at home with their presents. Not that getting dressed up mattered since little boys will find themselves covered in dirt and food within minutes of arriving anywhere. (”boys”… ‘nuff said.)

We would all be stressed out. Oh, what joy!

Why did I do all these things when I didn’t enjoy it?

I had bought into the “Holiday Should-Dos” in hopes of giving everyone…

“The. Best. Christmas. Evah.”

…so I kept myself immensely busy, doing all those things that felt expected and one reads about inmagazines (Pinterest and IG these days).

Naturally – those “should-dos” left me feeling even more exhausted.

This annual slog carried on until one year we told everyone that we would be away. It worked thefirst year and then – whoops – we got busted. What was I thinking?

Christmas Light-Bulb Moment:
Rather than make myself (and my family) crazy with the “Should-Dos” and subsequently try and hide from the very expectations I hoisted upon myself…Let’s create our own perfect holiday!

Heretical I know… but hear me out.

I started by defining how I wanted the holidays to feel. Words like calm, spacious, quiet, restful, and inspiring came to mind.

Then, I planned the month of December to generate those kinds of emotions.

I told Peter I would happily accompany him to one holiday party, but that was it.

I purchased holiday treats from the local bakery, butcher and greengrocer. It felt good to supportsmall businesses.

Instead of cramming my schedule with “festivities” that felt more like “stresstivities”, I scheduled pilates, the garden and walks on the beach. I took the time to read and indulged in lots of pleasure and self-care. I filled my home with tropical flowers and had fun making “over the top” bonbons.

I bought myself the gift I really wanted instead of hoping somebody would get it for me.

I didn’t send out holiday cards and the world continued to turn. I do send them out now a days but not every year.

I spent the month of December being calm, centeredand feeling like a blissed-out beach babe. January 1st arrived and for the first time, I actually began the New Year feeling refreshed instead of drained.

I’ve learned that nobody is going to give you the holiday season of your dreams. You have to give it to yourself.

So, how do you want to feel this December?
What kind of holiday do YOU and your family really want?

This is an unusual holiday season. Most people are not traveling. This is sad and bittersweet, but alsofrees up a lot of space—a blank canvas to create whatever you want.

Create a holiday that you want to experience instead of operating on auto-pilot. Cancel stuff youdon’t want to do. Create new rituals that inspire and energize you. Make your own traditions.