Simplify and rejoice this holiday season!

It’s the season to be jolly. Or is it? The countdown is on, even though it’s been since September, that stores started adorning themselves with garland, ‘bobbles’, iridescent lights and perfectly symmetrical evergreen trees. As the weeks have gone by flyers piled up warning frazzled grown-ups of how many days are left to shop. As the weather outside gets frightful shopping becomes less delightful.Gingerbread man

Gift giving and decorations will always be part of the holiday season but is there a way of being less focused on gift giving, less stressed and more joyful? In my pursuit to embrace the true meaning of the holiday season, reconnecting and celebrating with family and friends, I have vowed to simplify and rejoice!

Now the hard part…how? If you’re not too deep into it yet, here are some thoughts:

  • I propose to limit spending. The ‘rush’ I get every Christmas morning, as my eyes transfix on seeing the gluttony of presents beneath the straining boughs of the tree is quickly replaced with dread when the bills start arriving in January. It is just not worth it! What I have learned over the years, especially with very young children, is that sometimes the best thing about a gift that comes in a box is the box itself.
  • Next on my list – make gifts! Homemade gifts such as a box of my favourite cookies will likely hit the mark with Aunt Ruby who already has everything but can no longer bake for herself, making giving more rewarding and the experience of receiving even more special. I plan on making it a family project, letting my children add their magic touch!
  • Reduce your carbon foot print. With a little tweaking of old holiday traditions I am hoping to do my part to save the planet. As a start, I have exchanged my not-so-environmentally-friendly lights for LED ones and I have been busy looking for cards made from recycled paper. And check out what our waste management partners say about a real Christmas tree or fake?
  • Embrace and participate in the random acts of kindness movement! For far too many people the holiday season can create feelings of despair.  It is with this in mind that I will commit to reaching out to someone who may be having a difficult time. My hope is that this low cost, no cost act of kindness will in some way make someone else’s life a little bit brighter and my heart a little bit lighter.
  • Re-commit to holiday traditions! Traditions have brought our family together over the years; building memories has strengthened our connections and helped us rise above some of the more difficult times that life has thrown our way.
    • Some of the favourite traditions of the elves I work with are:
      • Going as a family to select the most perfect tree. There is an art to this. It is not taken lightly. The measure of success is if the tree remains standing (without being tied to the ceiling) once all the decorations are on!
      • In our house a great tree is not always a ‘perfect’ tree. Our children have a box of their own ornaments, some store bought and some homemade, reflecting their interests at each age and stage of life.  Like snowflakes, each year our tree is unique, echoing fond memories of Christmas’ past.
      • Getting together with family and baking holiday favourites that our mom had always made is one of our annual traditions. This ritual allows us to acknowledge, remember and celebrate our mother, our grandmother and the importance of family.
      • On Christmas Eve we have a seafood feast with roasted chestnuts hot out of the oven. We pass the time by dividing the long dinner table, with the men sitting at one end playing a card game while rest of the ‘clan’ plays Bingo at the other.  A nickel per card, the kids take turns calling out the numbers.  Funny how it’s always one of the youngest who wins the jackpot!
      • Every Christmas Eve we open a gift bag, found under the tree filled with new pajamas! We get comfy in our new PJ’s, read ‘The Christmas Story’, have some special treats and watch a classic Christmas movie.
      • Our favourite tradition is to purchase a new puzzle. A table is secured near the hub of our home and no matter how crazy things get we seem to find time to gather around the puzzle, compete to complete and all the while building memories!
      • When my children were younger the days leading up to Christmas were spent making sugar cookies with them, knowing very well they were unlikely to eat their dinner. It didn’t matter; the excitement on their faces was food for the soul.

Above all, rejoice! No matter which special day you celebrate, the common thread that unites us all is the celebration of family, friends, community and culture.

Wishing you a very, merry holiday season from all of us at HaltonParents!

Share your experience:

We’d love to hear about your family traditions. Talk to us:

  • Leave us a comment below
  • Tweet with us: @haltonparents
  • Email us at
  • Call the HaltonParents line for parenting information or to speak directly to a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) Simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.

Gabrielle Hunter is a public health nurse with the Early Years Health program.

This entry was posted in Babies, Children & Tweens, Parenting, Parenting Your Baby, Parenting Your Child/Tween, Parenting Your Teen, Parenting Your Toddler & Preschooler, Pregnancy, Teens, Toddlers & Preschoolers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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