Keep it simple, enjoy company this Christmas

For the last several weeks, people have been asking me if I’m ready for Christmas.

For the last several weeks, people have been asking me if I’m ready for Christmas. Usually, I answer with a simple yes. The truth is, I don’t start getting ready for it until the day before.

I know — I sound like a guy. But it works for me.

Many years ago I wasn’t like this at all. I used to gear up for the holiday season early, making and buying cards and gifts for almost everyone I knew.

I also spent a fair amount of time and money decorating the house. I did that for decades and, each year, I’d feel pressured to outdo myself.

Eventually I realized how stressed I was over the self-imposed work I was inflicting and I stopped.

Now I don’t send cards, at all, and I only buy presents for my kids. Everyone else gets a gift card, if anything.

As far as decorating the house goes, my nine-year-old daughter now loves to do that and surprise us with the results. Her and her 12-year-old brother’s homemade decorations from years past are by far my favourite.

Even Christmas dinner is a piece of cake for me. If we stay home, my husband likes to cook, but more often than not we travel to his parents’ place, where the whole family meets, and all I do is the dishes.

If it sounds like I’m bragging about being lazy, I’m sorry, but I just can’t help myself. I feel excited about not being anxious and frazzled during the holiday season like I used to be.

Over the last few Decembers, I’ve been able to enjoy my time with friends and family in a way I couldn’t before, and I don’t feel guilty about it.

Why? Because I’m not burdening others with anything they don’t want to do, and that includes myself.

Fortunately for me, I lucked out in the mother-in-law department. I love all my in-laws, but my husband’s mother is really special and she’s also everything I’m not.

At this time of year, she cooks, bakes, decorates and goes all out with the presents. She seems to love every minute of it, and she makes Christmas day a lot of fun for our family.

The topper for me is how she doesn’t care that I’m so lame at what she does so exceptionally well, and she accepts me exactly as I am.

“You don’t need to do everything,” she told me many years ago when I expressed concern that I wasn’t cooking nearly as much as her son.

“You have enough to do. If someone else likes to cook and you don’t, let them do it.”

Always busy with a long list of things to accomplish, I loved the idea of not adding to it, and needed no further convincing.

I like to think that even if I didn’t have help, I’d still do my best to keep things at this time of year simple. After all, a Charlie Brown tree, something yummy to eat and the wonderful company of people I love is all I could ever want or hope for.

A stressful holiday season is definitely no longer on my list for Santa. It might have taken me awhile to understand what I really wanted for Christmas, but now that I finally get it, there’s no turning back.

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