With Christmas fast approaching, my calendar is quickly filling. Can you believe it’s December already? There is the “optional” work party, family gatherings, dinners with friends, and get-togethers with all those I’ve been meaning to see through the year. I can’t complain though, they are opportunities to connect with loved ones, build on family traditions and indulge in delicious food.
And of course, the presents are a nice treat too!
Christmas is my favourite holiday—every year I get excited as December nears. That is until December comes and I realize how many things I’m trying to fit in such a limited time. The anxiety overtakes the joy and my focus shifts to just getting through the holidays.
But not this year. This year I’m going to enjoy Christmas more than years past.
Some dread holidays because they remind them of loved ones lost or they prompt painful memories of their past. For others, the financial strain of gift-giving or unresolved family tension is overwhelming. These are only a few of the many possible problems people are facing, but I’m not struggling with those ones.
My issue is with time—or what feels like not enough time at Christmas.
Every year, December seems to pass much quicker than I hope because I’m too busy trying to see everyone and do everything. I’m so occupied with doing that I don’t enjoy what’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. Wherever I go and whatever I do, I’m already thinking about what’s next on the calendar.
First, there are the demands of my everyday life—caring for my young family, balancing full time work and all that comes with being an adult. It all takes time. Connecting with friends and family takes time—especially when travel is involved. Shopping, cooking, cleaning, family outings; they all take time. As the expectations of the season mount, the amount of time available to us remains fixed.
How do we accomplish it all at Christmas and keep our sanity? I’ll tell you my plan.
1. Finish your gift shopping as soon as possible.
Nothing wastes time like battling crowded parking lots and stores full of frenzied shoppers. This year, I completed my shopping in October. Part of my motivation is that I dislike crowds but I also realized this was the simplest change to free up time. I took advantage of the Fall sales after back-to-school as stores cleared stock to prepare for the busy shopping season. It happens every year, so why not pounce? With shopping out of the way I’m free to hang out with family and friends, relaxed and fully focused on our time together.
2. Schedule days off when you won’t have to see anyone or go anywhere.
My wife and I experimented with this idea over the summer, reserving one weekend each month, and it was great. We took the time to rest and be free of commitments and it was wonderful. We enjoyed relaxing family time and low-key outings but we didn’t allow anyone to impose on this reserved time. We’ll do the same for December. As plans are made, we’ll block days between events to keep that time to recharge and spend quality time together. You can create the freedom for impromptu outings and activities—often the most memorable times are unplanned.
3. Write a list of the most important people that you must see during the Christmas season.
Make it a priority to visit them. They are a significant part of your life so give them quality time—there’s no greater gift. Make a second list of other people you’d like to see but aren’t as high a priority. It may sound mean but it’s important to be honest in this process. Don’t feel obligated to see everyone in December, just the first list. You may be able to fit some of the second list while keeping your reserved days but don’t feel pressured to do so. Give the most time to those who matter most instead of feeling pressured to squeeze everyone in.
We only have so much time available so try to spend it in ways that count. We often complain how little time we have but sometimes it’s because we haven’t planned well. Determine your priorities and schedule accordingly. You can spend quality time with people you love without feeling rushed and connect with those that matter most.
Christmas shouldn’t be a season we “get through”, it’s a special time we were meant to enjoy.
Let’s fall in love with Christmas all over again! Enjoy the moments, make special memories and be present—not just physically, but mentally as well—for the people you love. Life already has enough stresses. Let this be a time to be refreshed, recharged and reminded of the greatest gifts in our lives.
Christmas comes at the same time every year, it shouldn’t surprise you. So next year, get ahead of it. Be prepared, think ahead and don’t let time be consumed by things of little importance. You can choose how you spend time this Christmas so when it comes, you will love every minute.
 You’re not going to accomplish that this year seeing as it’s already December, but next year you will!