Tuesday, December 20, 2016


Want to feel bliss at Christmas time like my baby Isla?

I was talking to a friend yesterday who said "I just don't understand why I don't feel that peaceful feeling at Christmas. Instead I just feel stressed?" I know why! Because traditionally as women we do EVERYTHING to prepare for Christmas. We plan, buy and wrap the gifts, plan the dinners, buy the food for the dinners, prepare the dinners, clean the house, make special Christmas treats, plan and make gifts for neighbours, teachers, and write and send all the Christmas cards. If you are reading this and feeling tired already...you should! It's exhausting! 

Is it a surprise that come Christmas morning we are exhausted? 

Add on this the extra stress of how we're going to pay for all of it, family dynamics, lack of sleep, and sugar crashing and we are on a train to Christmas contention. So now that I've reviewed all the tough stuff about Christmas. Are we doomed to a holiday season of stress and exhaustion or can Christmas really be blissful? 

I've got some good news and bad news for you. The good news is that it is possible to feel bliss this time of year and feel more connected with the people you love than ever before. The bad news is that it takes some work to do it and some letting go of the idea that Christmas needs to be perfect. What is Christmas can be perfectly imperfect? What if there can be moments of calm and peace amidst the chaos of holiday business around us? 

What are some of the ways I have found helpful to create Christmas bliss & avoid all the things that can steal our holidays? These are a couple of ways we have simplified the season in our family and it has made a big difference in helping us to enjoy the holidays more. These steps don't mean that everything is perfect but they do make the holiday season a lot more enjoyable, less stressful and more meaningful to our family. 

Here are the 5 steps to Christmas bliss that will get you there.



One of the the things we do is buy less gifts.  I know…sounds crazy right?  We have just found that when we stick to buying our kids 1-3 gifts for our kids, they enjoy them more. We also found that when we make sure the gifts fit into our budget, we can truly enjoy Christmas. One year I had an epifany when our kids drawers were so full that we could not close them while we were trying to jam in their new christmas clothes in. I realized that sometimes our kids are given second hand clothes and toys that look just like new. I also realized that when we buy a toy for them, they are not interested in the box and 50 billion twist ties holding the toy in place. 

So why not set aside toys or clothes all year that look new and give them as Christmas gifts or buy gifts at a garage sale or from Craigslist? One year we bought a kids blowup waterslide that had been used once and was worth $600 new for $50 from a garage sale for our daughter's gift and it was the best gift everWe are being greener on our pocketbook and greener on the environment. Does that mean we never buy new gifts? No...there are some things that just need to be new but we are resourceful with the gifts we give. 

Another thing we do that might sound really insane so hold onto your Christmas cap is that we don't buy gifts for our partner.  I know that might sound grinchy but over the years we found that we just weren’t getting the joy we desired from opening sweaters and nick-nacs for each other.  So rather than buy each other gifts, my husband Andy and I have a "super Christmas date". What’s a super Christmas date you might be thinking.  Well it is something extra special that we decide on together to celebrate Christmas…over the years it has varied from going on a one night mini vacation, going shopping together after Christmas or going for an extra fancy dinner or a sleigh ride.  Anything that is really special that we would not normally do on a date night.  That way we have more bright futures…Christmas and our super Christmas date after Christmas.   


Another thing we do as a family is talk about what this holiday season truly means and plan how we can honor the true spirit of Christmas. Some ways we have done that is by collecting food for the food bank, talking about the gifts we can give to our Creator, planning exciting things to do as a family and searching for ways we can help the people around us. I know that each family is unique and what works for our family may not work for others so the important thing is to find what works best for you and your family. This year one of the things we are doing is an advent calendar that reminds of how we can follow Christ's example this holiday season and serve those around us.


Instead of having our focus on stuff at Christmas, we focus on things we can do together as a family. We have all sorts of awesome traditions that we do. Infact we have an advent calendar that is a large Christmas moose...you heard right...a Christmas moose with material pockets that we put ideas of all the fun things we can do and how we can serve others each day during the holdiays. These range from making cookies to bringing a neighbour a dinner. We also have some yearly traditions that we look forward to all year like our anual Christmas Scavenger Hunt. This is where we invite our friends anfamily to join us in a bunch of awesome activities as we race to see who can finish the hunt fastest. One of my favorite memories is of my mom sledding down a hill on a piece of cardboard during the scavenger hunt!

Let go of perfection! The holidays do not need to be perfect. All families have ups and downs and if you know that sometimes the holdays get messy and there will be times when everyone is not smiling in the Christmas photo, you will have a much better time of things!



State is everything. It is how we see the world and how we experience our family and events that happen. There are a couple things we can do that are pivitol in managing our state of mind. The first is that we need to get enough sleep. I know it can be particularly difficult during the holidays but if we are really going to enjoy them, we need sleep! There have been studies done that show if we are suffering from lack of sleep we have the same judgement as someone who is intoxicated


Another one that is critical is to have good nutrition. We don't need the sugar crashes robbing us of our happy holiday memories! 
So with all this delicious sugary temptations around how are we supposed to enjoy the holidays when we are so hopped up on sugar that our state of mind is constantly crashing?  What is the answer?  Is it to completely avoid sugar and when a friendly neighbor knocks on your door with a fresh batch of sugar cookies to slam the door and throw there cookies in their face?  Um no I’m not saying that at all…that wouldn’t be the spirit of Christmas now would it!  What I’m suggesting is to be aware of the sugar crash that happens after we gobble up those yummy holiday treats, find healthier alternatives (I have a healthy raw chocolate peppermint cookie recipe that is awesome) and if we do indulge on the sweet treats just eat them in moderation and if possible towards the end of the evening so kids and grown ups can be in bed drifting off to sleep during the crash rather than saying mean things to each other.  


It is critical for us to move our bodies to manage our state of mind. The cool thing about this is that we can do it in whatever way works best for us. Whether that means going for a walk, running, yoga...anything that gets your body moving! Let's offset some of those yummy and not so good for us treats we are going to induldge in by making in a priority to keep moving our bodies this holiday season. Most importantly though when we move our body we feel happier, it pumps in great feeling endorphins that make us love our family more! So take your kids for a walk or sledding or just do yoga in your living room...do whatever it takes to move your body! 


There is something special about the holidays that help us to reach beyond ourselves and think of those who are struggling and who don't have the things they need. There is a spirit of community and coming together to serve those around us. I know that when I have focused on serving those around me, especially during this busy season, that it when I can experience true joy and the spirit of Christmas is tangible. Service can. be in so many different forms. It may be complimenting someone, or telling someone you love them, or going to visit a person who is sick. It is absolutely anything that uplifts another. There is a Quaker Proverb that says "Thee life me, I'll life thee, and we'll ascend together eternally." When we uplift another, we are also uplifted and strengthened and given the gift of peace. 


Okay so now you are armed with knowledge about the holiday stealers that are lurking about trying to take away your holiday fun and you know the 5 steps to Chistmas bliss. Now it's time to make a plan so that you can use this information to create the holdiay season that you want. It doesn't have to be perfect but I promise using these things will make it better than you can imagaine. It will take some work on your part though. Are you committed to creating a holiday season that is less stress and more fun? Are you willing to let go of some past expectations and beliefs that you have had about what the holdiays "should" be? Are you willing to do what it takes to put yourself first in a happy, healthy, productive way so you can be the person you want to be for those you love? If you answered yes to any of those questions then you are ready so let's begin! 
    1. So what is 1 thing you can do to simplify the season this year?
    2. What does Christmas mean to you and how can you make sure that meaning is central to your holidays? 
    3. What family traditions can you create this year that will create happy memories for your family?
    4. What is something you can do daily to take even better care of yourself by getting enough sleep, having great nutrition or getting exercise?   

      I know that doing these things has made a makes a huge difference in helping us love the holidays again. I know that as find ways to avoid the holiday stealers and find more ways to be even more present and create a simplified holiday season, you will feel more peace, joy and happiness this Christmas. I wish you and your family all the love and happiness that your heart can hold this holiday season.  

      Much love,