In Defence of the Holly and the Jolly

In Defence of the Holly and the Jolly

Full disclosure:

I am 31 years old and love Christmas more than most children. It’s my absolute favourite time of year and always has been. I love it all, the decorations, the baking, the snow, the carols, the general merriment. One of the top reasons I wanted to have kids was so I could watch them experience the joy of Christmas, and when we were house hunting, “would look amazing with Christmas decorations” was on the must-have checklist.

So, not surprisingly, it makes me so sad when I hear people say they hate Christmas. But what makes it worse is the most common reason I hear is that Christmas is just too materialistic and a big commercial grab and causes nothing but stress and credit card debt.

I’m a big believer in the “life is what you make of it” theory. If you hate your job, fix it. If you hate where you live, fix it. If you hate Christmas, fix it! You are in control of how you experience your life. And so, it would follow, you are also in control of how you experience Christmas. Absolutely, there is tons of junk in stores way too early in the year trying to make you spend too much money on stuff you don’t need. But please do not let that define the whole spirit of the season. There are so many other wonderful aspects to the holidays to focus on. Making extra time for family, being thankful for the life you have, and the food! Let’s not forget the food.

Take this time of year as a reminder to make time for the things that always seem to get brushed off. Take it as an opportunity to send grandma a card in the mail with some photos. Use it as an excuse to spend some extra family time decorating a tree, baking some holiday treats, or watching a holiday movie instead of doing other chores. If you truly think Christmas is too commercialized, then I challenge you to change that. Change the way your family does gifts. Pare down the budget. Whatever makes it easier for you to focus on the positive feelings of the season.

So, try this out!!

Here are some ways you can make your holiday change, according to your holiday grievance.

Grievance: I hate spending money on all these silly decorations

Solution: Then don’t. Buy a smaller tree and decorate it with candy canes. If you have kids, make some ornaments. No one ever said your tree has to look like it belongs in Rockefeller Plaza to count.

Grievance: Gift giving is so expensive.

Solution: Giving an expensive gift because you think you have to is the worst reason ever. Have a sit-down with your clan and talk about alternatives like Secret Santa so everyone only has to buy one gift. Even if they don’t agree, make it clear you only intend on buying small gifts this year, and set a hard limit for each person. For your service providers, like day home providers, teachers, and the mail carrier (does anyone still do this?), consider something homemade like cookies, or some bark packaged in a nice tin from the dollar store. Bark is literally the easiest thing in the world to make. Smear some melted chocolate on a cookie sheet and shove some crushed stuff into it. Voila. Bark.

Or, this may sound counterintuitive, but try putting some extra thought into your gifts this year and the good feeling of making someone smile will probably negate the pouting. If you ask me, there is no better feeling than watching someone open up a gift you know they’re going to love, and seeing them smile. Challenge yourself to think outside the box this year. And no, unique and thoughtful does not need to mean pricey. Read our blog post on this topic for more inspiration.

Grievance: Christmas is just so stressful and there’s so much pressure to make everything perfect. What even is an Elf on the Shelf?!

Solution: Say it with me now: “This season is what you make of it”. Choose love this Christmas, people! Instead of teaching your kids that this is the time of year you get to make Santa bring you the stuff mom and dad are too cheap to buy you, encourage your whole family to focus on the spirit instead of the stuff.

A friend of mine does a Kindness Elf instead of an Elf on the Shelf. It’s a little dude she found one year at Costco and instead of tricks and bribing her kids to be good, he has notes that encourage the kids to do something each day to help the family and their community get ready for Christmas. The ideas are a mix of Christmas housekeeping, fun adventures, acts of kindness and service learning. Things like hanging a special ornament on the tree, picking out a can of food and taking it to the food bank, or writing Christmas cards to send to far away family members. These tasks don’t take a long time, don’t cost a lot of money, and are not materialistic. Does it take some effort? Yes. But it can all be done in advance and it really teaches kids about the spirit of the holidays rather than the stuff of it. I love it! (Check out @christmaskindnesself on Instagram to see her daily ideas so you can steal them for next year.)

Or, do nothing of the sort, have your kids write a letter to Santa and tell them Santa’s on a budget this year, and call it a Merry Christmas. That’s all my parents ever did and I grew up to be a well-adjusted Christmas freak.

Grievance: I hate twinkle lights, carols, snow and joy.

Solution: Put on some fuzzy pants, make a very large hot toddy and drink until you feel jolly.

Merry Christmas, one and all!


Jill Urbanoski

Jill Urbanoski is a wife, mother, communicator, cooker, snuggler, wine drinker, chocolate eater, shopper, positive thinker, philosophizer, and human, loving life in Okotoks, Alberta, Canada.

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