Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you are enjoying your Christmas day and celebrating with family and/or friends. I hope you’ve had a moment to take a breath after all the frenzy that has become our modern day holiday season.
When I was growing up, Christmas, like it is for most kids, was my favorite holiday by far. (It didn’t hurt either, that I am a Christmas baby, born on December 26). There were the decorations, the celebrating, the food, and of course, the PRESENTS. Christmas was much simpler back then. Sure, there was a certain amount commercialization, but nothing like it is today. Of course as a child, I was not aware of all this. I just saw Christmas as a fun and exciting time, when everyone’s mood seemed to lift. (This was before the Black Friday/shopping madness that has overtaken our modern holiday season).
But as I got older, especially when I went to college, the holidays meant trying to cram in some holiday window shopping to get into the holiday spirit right after final exams and before a much needed break from school. I used to love going to the malls or downtown just to mingle with the hordes of people rushing around trying to find the right gifts for the people on their lists. Somehow that adrenaline rush put me in the right mood.
When I started working and things got even more hectic around the holidays, and time seemed an even bigger premium, I started to step back a bit from the frenzy and started to look forward more to the quieter holiday of Thanksgiving, which at the time marked the beginning of the holiday season. There was all that eating and the four-day weekend, and plenty of time still left before Christmas. When Christmas finally came around, it became almost anti-climactic because it marked the end of the festivities for me. (Growing up in a Chinese home, New Year’s has never been that big of a deal for me. The Lunar New Year is where it’s at in terms of ringing in the new year).
Well for the last few years, after I quit my corporate job, I have been trying to find a calmer holiday season than in years past. I no longer have to deal with the high stress levels associated with trying to meet impossible deadlines before shutting down for Christmas and New Year’s. Now I can actually relax a bit. But being the workaholic that I am, I’ve found myself working hard on my business throughout the holiday season. After all, this is the time of year when most people do most of their shopping all year, and as a business owner, I have to capitalize on this. So that has meant working through the holiday season to get as many items up online as possible. It’s also meant I’ve had to cram everything else – cooking, baking, sending out cards, etc – wherever and whenever I’ve had pockets of time.
About two years ago, I read a book, Four Midwestern Sisters’ Christmas Book, that really brought back the meaning of Christmas for me. It’s a memoir of four sisters who grew up in the rural midwest in the 1950’s and the memories they had of the enchanted Christmases of their childhood. They did not have a lot of money, but their holidays were filled with family activities such as baking, cooking, crafting, and sharing with each other. In light of all the frenzy and chaos and all-out bad behavior that sadly seems to escalate around the holidays in our modern incarnation of Christmas, reading about this family’s handmade Christmases was a welcome respite from the craziness this time of year brings.
After working hard on my business during the holidays for the last few years, I decided this year to try to balance out my work and life during the holiday season and bring back more of the quieter, creative aspects of the holidays into my life. I knew sleep would be a premium if I wanted to have both a profitable and personally satisfying holiday season, but I was willing to make that sacrifice. As much as I love to craft, surprisingly, this was the first Christmas I spent creating with my hands. It’s also the first year I’ve put the most effort into decorating my space for the holidays. (Read about it here). I have to say, as I am typing this post up on Christmas eve, that I am very happy that I made a concerted effort to bring more creativity into my holiday season this year. I feel that I made good on my goal of having a good Christmas, both in terms of business goals and personal satisfaction. Of course there were things I didn’t get around to doing, like sending out holiday cards, but I feel what I did this year during the holidays will serve as a springboard going into next year and future Christmases. After neglecting my creative soul for so many holiday seasons, I’ve decided that next year I will make a more concerted effort to continue riding the creative wave I’ve been on the last few months. I’ve already created a list of crafts I would like to make/try in the new year.
When all is said and done for this holiday season, I can honestly say that this was probably the best one I’ve ever had, not just for all the creative activities I got to try and do and the growth of my business, but also for the time spent with family and friends. Now that I’m older, I’ve really learned to cherish the time I spend with the people I care about. Maybe it’s leaving my corporate job and working on bringing a calm and peace back into my life that had been lacking for so long that has helped bring me to this place, but it’s also due to the awareness of the mortality of my parents and the specialness of those around me. We aren’t getting any younger, and with each passing year, I am reminded of how precious our time is with each other. Maybe this sentimentality makes me seem old, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. It has been borne of hard-won wisdom and growth.
How was the holiday season for you? Please share in the comments.