How to Recapture the Magic of the Christmas Season

Filed in Living by on November 26, 2015 3 Comments


Now begins the official start of the Christmas season, so I want to discuss how you might better enjoy your experience this year.

When we were children, Christmas was a magical time. We approached it with the simplicity inherent in childhood, which allowed us to fully immerse ourselves in the spirit of love, joy, and generosity that fills the air during this wonderful time of year.

As adults, many of us allow Christmastime to instead become a huge burden of obligation and responsibility, usually due to the demands of others. Because it is now filled with work rather than joy, we begin to dread the season. We view all of the decorations we need to put up every year as drudgery. We fret over all the presents we’ve obligated ourselves to purchase. We overload our schedules by saying “yes” to every Christmas function. We slave over Christmas dinner. In short, we somehow manage to turn a potentially wondrous time of year into something we loathe.

This doesn’t have to be the case. By simplifying and prioritizing, you can reclaim the joy and wonder of the Christmas season!

First, let’s discuss decorations. If you have children, and/or you entertain over the holidays, then some decorating is necessary. But consider just doing what I do: put up the tree, throw a few Christmas knickknacks on some tables, put up a wreath, and be done with it. Your home will look festive enough, and you will have escaped hours of drudgery. You will be especially pleased with this strategy after Christmas, when the time has come to put it all away!

Second, you don’t need to buy presents for every relative and child in your and your spouse’s extended family. If you need to speak to some relatives beforehand and let them know that you will be cutting back on your gift giving, it will be a one-time conversation that will produce years and years of benefits for your sanity and your checkbook. And they will get over it. Time heals all wounds!

Third, you don’t need to attend every party or function. Some just aren’t likely to be enough fun to justify attending, and being overscheduled causes a lot of stress. It is easy to “thin the herd” of holiday functions by politely telling the hosts you have a conflict and thanking them for their kind invitation. Voila!

Last, you do not need to make “from scratch” every food you serve at Christmas dinner. This is not the 1950’s and you don’t need to be June Cleaver. Honey Baked Hams has a great spiral ham that only needs to be reheated. Trader Joe’s and your local grocery store have very nice side dishes which also just need to be heated up. Place them on a fancy plate prior to serving, and take full credit!

So now that you have cleared the decks, you can do whatever it is you really want to do during the holiday season!

For me, I like to go to the mall just once to buy some presents, so I can see the decorations, experience the hustle and bustle, and pick out a couple of interesting and creative gifts. But just once. I also like going out to nice restaurants with close friends, so we can enjoy good food, good conversation, and the festive atmosphere. My wife Elaine’s favorite Christmas activities are spending time with the grandkids and just staying home to watch hours and hours of Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel. What are the things you most enjoy to do during the Christmas season? Make these your priority this year.

Some might say that this approach to Christmas is insensitive to those around you because you are focusing too much on yourself. I think that by participating in Christmas in the manner that makes you most happy will actually benefit those around you, because you will be much happier and less likely to be stressed and grumpy! Being happy, content, and joyful can only benefit whomever you come into contact with during the Christmas season, and you will likewise be being kind to yourself, which is always in season.

About the Author ()

TIM MCINTYRE retired in 2004 from his position as president of Applied Systems after facilitating a successful sale of the company. At only forty-six years old, he made the unusual decision to fully retire to pursue other interests and simply enjoy free time. As a hard-driving Type A personality, this turned out to be a significant challenge for the Notre Dame and University of Chicago-educated MBA, CPA, and Certified Cash Manager.

Comments (3)

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  1. Deborah Mcloughlin says:

    On point, well put

  2. Colleen says:

    You are right on, Tim. I love to keep it simple and painless. That makes me smile throughout the whole holiday season!


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