What do I mean by Marie Kondo your Christmas?
Don't worry! I do not mean folding your underwear in a weird way or having to organize ANYTHING in your home right now.
Marie Kondo is that incredible professional organizer who wrote the book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Did you read it?
Makes a great holiday gift ;-)! Just kidding. I mean it does, but that's not what this is about.
This is less about holiday presents and more about holiday presence...
which probably just made you feel guilty. Because in going overboard and trying to create a magical holiday for our loved ones, we are usually more stressed and less present than we are at other times in the year. And that feels kind of crummy.
Christmas is touted as the most wonderful time of the year ... except that comes with a hefty emotional and financial price tag for those of us who are orchestrating the magic for everyone else.
I saw the funniest quote the other day that basically said that December is the time of year where we switch from normal stress to super expensive, sparkly cinnamon-scented stress. Ummm, yes. that sounds about right.
Ok back to Marie Kondo.
Marie’s whole philosophy in decluttering homes is to only keep the belongings that spark JOY in you. She recommends thanking everything else for its service in your life and then tossing it!
What if we decided to Marie Kondo our Christmas?
What if we took a look at every holiday tradition, activity, party, obligation and made a conscious decision to keep it because it sparks joy or dump it because it just causes more stress in our lives. How would that feel?
Here are a few ways in which I Marie Kondo my Christmas...
- I'm gifting more experiences. I'm gifting gifts too, but I'm starting to shift into giving more experiences than stuff.
According to Thomas Gilovich of Cornell University: experiences yield better stories, they become a part of who we are, and they connect us to others.
Research has shown that experiences also create more gratitude (good to know for all of us who are parents of teenagers!) and have a more long-lasting impact on your loved ones’ happiness than the newest iPhone ever will.
As we all know, the new car smell fades fast, and most of our “toys” recede into the background before we’ve even cleaned up the wrapping paper.
With experiences, we not only receive a lifetime of memories, but we also forge deeper connections and bonds with our loved ones, and we even get a bonus serving of excitement in the anticipation leading up to the event.
- Instead of worrying about giving something nobody wants or needs, I'm giving to a family in need.
- The stuff stresses me out. Buying, hiding, wrapping, shipping, transporting, storing, organizing, and finally decluttering drives me bananas. And it all feels very excessive. Then I feel bad for buying too much stuff.
- You know what feels amazing? Buying stuff for a family in need. We've adopted local families in our area and we've also sent international families a cow or a goat through Heifer International.
- Reminding myself that the original intention of the holiday season is not for it to be one big tinsel-covered torture device.
This means that when I told myself the other evening that I shouldn't go moonlight snowshoeing with my friend because I needed to get my Christmas cards out, I realized how ridiculous that was. I send cards to connect with friends. Here is a friend who is wanting to connect in real life. So I said yes!
FYI, my cards will be late. I'm going snowshoeing this weekend.
- I'm going for holiday PRESENCE not presents
My kids have always valued my presence over my presents. Yet, I always make the mistake of thinking otherwise. As they are now teenagers, I realize how fleeting this time is. So I'm slowing down, I'm unplugging, I put the phone down. I close the computer. I give them my full attention. And I'm grateful for every second they want to spend with me.
- I love on the ChristMESS
I always try to practice Wabi Sabi, especially this time of year. Wabi Sabi is the Japanese philosophy that loosely translates to a state of being "perfectly imperfect". It's a complex and nuanced concept, but for the purpose of this, we'll just emphasize that one aspect of Wabi Sabi is in regards to something being more perfect not in spite of its imperfections, but because of its imperfections.
Picture that ornament you made in 1st grade. It's perfectly adorable because it's so imperfect.
I remember when my girls went to a paint your own pottery place with a babysitter to make me a Christmas gift and the vase they gave me clearly looked like the woman who owned the shop made it for me. I was surprised. I wanted the messy, scribbled, scratched version made by my little cuties. I wasn't looking for the "perfect" version made by the shop owner.
At our house, we embrace the messy. We attempt gingerbread house construction even though ours mostly look like Pinterest fails or a miniature frat house. Going for perfection gives me anxiety, going for perfectly imperfect makes me smile.
Wabi Sabi for the win!
- Get out of the compare and despair of Christmas
I don't really get too triggered looking at other people's celebrations. But I hear from many people that they do.
Here's my advice, if you go into compare and despair on the internet during the holiday season, ask yourself, "what is this really about?". Do I wish I was on a family outing to cut down a tree? Do I long for an adventure outside of my home town? What is it about this other person's celebration that I would like to incorporate into MY celebration? And how can I bring more of this into my life?
I also remind my clients that with most people's social media accounts, you're seeing someone's highlight reel, not their behind-the-scenes. In psychology, it's comparing your insides to someone else's outsides. The outsides are always going to look shinier and with a big bow on top. The insides are what matter and they are messier for ALL OF US.
- I stopped running around like a crazy person
I just stopped. Everything will get done or it won't. I stopped buying into this belief that this is what I am supposed to be doing. End of Story.
- I'm enjoying what is, not what’s supposed to be
Ok this is kind of key in de-stressing your holidays (and de-stressing your whole life). I started managing my own expectations and stopped buying into others' expectations years ago. Enjoying what is (or at least accepting what is) is my modus operandi. I sincerely work on letting shit go (and new shit inevitably comes up, so I get lots of practice!).
In regards to letting go of other people's expectations, that's pretty damn liberating if I do say so myself. I've kind of gone with the Popeye approach. I yam what I yam.
I strive to be kind, in integrity, generous, honest, present and loving. But I also have healthy boundaries. I don't overfunction, I don't manage other people's feelings, I don't try to force anyone to change or live into anyone else's expectations of the holidays. I'm oh too familiar with that way of interacting with the world.
So there you have it! That's how I Marie Kondo my Christmas. How about you? What sparks joy in your current holiday traditions? What doesn't spark joy?
Can you start to let go of the traditions you no longer want to keep and bring in the ones that you do? Can you have enough holiday presence to start to pay attention to what would truly make this season merry and bright?
I wish you the warmest of holidays -
Creator of The Life Feast and Gratitude Gravy
PS The Life Feast starts in January!!!