Every year as the holidays draw near, my dread, overwhelm, and anxiety begin to heighten. Almost to the point of a panic attack. What is supposed to be the most magical time of the year is met with manipulation, guilt trips, and in some instances, downright nastiness as I try tirelessly to please everyone.

This is the year things change. This is the year I set firm boundaries. The year I simplify. The year that my goal is to bring as much JOY back into the season as I can possibly muster, and if that causes disappointment and hurt feelings, well . . . sorry, but I’m not sorry.

I can no longer take responsibility for everyone else’s feelings about the choices we’re making for the health and happiness of our familyincluding me. 

That’s right! Including ME. Because I matter in all of this as well.

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As the facilitator of nearly every detail to get this holiday plane in the air, I deserve to have some peace, calm, and happiness surrounding the season as well. And my family deserves to have a mama who isn’t run so ragged and mentally drained that she can’t enjoy it all with them.

So, for starters, we are staying HOME for the holidays. All of them. 

No longer will I commit to dragging my young family across three states in an effort to factor everyone in with our presence and time. My young family doesn’t travel well. These kids don’t sleep worth a darn at homein their familiar environment on their regular schedule. Being on the road with them is a sleep disaster resulting in tired and crabby kids (and parents). 

I’m not dealing with the contention about how much of our time we spent where and with whom. I’ve triedrepeatedlyand apparently failed (based on all the complaining and grumbling to our faces and behind our backs), to accomplish this in a way that works for everyone despite all my best efforts and intentions. Running myself and my family ragged for it all to end with an issue . . . is no longer on my list of priorities.

Folks are welcome to pack up their adult selves, make the trip and visit us for family time in our home. I’ll even prepare a simple, but festive, holiday meal. If we don’t have enough space, I’ll look into renting the Airbnb house just up the street.

But, we are staying put and the door is open.

If you don’t get a holiday card from us, there are no hard feelings. I’m limiting the number I’m sending out and have a very specific (and fair) list for this time and resource suck of a project . . . that just ends up in people’s trash cans anyway.

I’m not dragging out and putting up every bit of holiday decor we own.

Our house will be reasonably festive, and I intend to save myself from days worth of setting up (and then tearing down) decor.

We will be cutting back on gift-giving. This isn’t because I don’t thoroughly enjoy giving an amazing gift, it’s because this time of year is super expensive with holiday giving PLUS all three kids having birthdays. I’ll be keeping it simple for my kids as well with a few themed packages and a stocking from Santa. The kids? They won’t notice anything different and will be thrilled, regardless.

I’m probably not going to embark on a sizable holiday baking journey. A few goodies here and there, maybe, but I really don’t have time. I also don’t really enjoy baking, and we don’t need all that guilty indulgence food in the house anyway.

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We will be taking all invites for get-togethers in stride. If it fits without forcing into our schedule, we’ll be happy to attend. If it doesn’t, again, nothing personal, and maybe we’ll catch up the next time.

If you’re reading this and thinking “Hey, Scrooge!” allow me to clarify: These decisions are being made and boundaries set in an effort to ensure I’m not a “Scrooge” for the holidays.

What I want more than anything is to have the energy and desire to participate in the holiday to the fullest with my young family. I want to make memories engaging in traditions that we create for ourselves. Traditions that don’t include exhausting ourselves and draining resources on the things that don’t really matter.

I’m taking back my authority to be an adult and parent and make decisions, alongside my husband, that are best for our family. If that means I’m in the business of disappointing people this year, then consider me open for business.

Hilary Doyle

Hilary is a wife and mother of three living in Colorado. She enjoys projects (especially with her young kiddos), gardening, writing, reading and swinging a club on the golf course. Her education and work experience fall in the category of mental health but her heart is in her home - just as God intended. Follow her at SimplyWriteous.com.