By Sara Orellana
The holiday season is upon us. And for my family, this is the birthday season as well. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, my family and I are on a mad dash from one special moment to the next. After years of exhaustion, overspending, and tears, I decided to make a lot of changes.
Over the past five years, I have made positive changes every year to how we handle the season. I have created budgets and lists, and for the most part, stuck to them. But, every year, somehow, no matter how I plan, the overspending and exhaustion have happened. And while I love the smiles on everyone’s faces, the resulting stress is simply not worth it.
For the past 42 years, I have worked to meet the expectations and desires of others. There are birthdays I don’t remember and Christmas mornings I cried from exhaustion. Years I spent the next year paying off debt. And more times than I care to remember my daughter being absolutely miserable.
This year has been our year to start over. This year we chose to make it our year. We are setting personal and family boundaries, and for the first time ever, have the opportunity to create our family traditions. Many conversations later, we chose to skip Halloween, have a quiet Thanksgiving at home, have birthdays focused on activities, and have smaller Christmases. Our priorities are changing, and this time of year has become about laughter and memories, not gifts.
Moving to a simpler life, in a much smaller home, has made us question every purchase, and truly limit what we own. As much as we love the holidays and decorating, our limited storage says we need to think creatively. The challenges my daughter and I are facing are bringing us closer together, allowing us to have great conversations, and for once, to be truly honest about what we like and what we don’t like.
While this is what is working for us, I would encourage you to embark on your own journey. Start by asking yourself what the most important things about the season are. Maybe for you, it’s the meals or the quiet moments reflecting on past holidays. No matter what your priorities are, you need to define them and prioritize them. Build a holiday season custom-made for you.
Understand that you will inevitably hurt people’s feelings. We did. I feel bad about the people we have hurt, but I am excited to not feel all the pressure and stress, to actually be able to take a step back and enjoy the moments.
I hope each of you has an incredible December, and I encourage you to make this holiday season the best yet.
Sara Orellana is a community volunteer, entrepreneur, author, amateur chef, and advocate for rescued animals. She may be reached by email at email@example.com.