Feeling the overwhelming weight of holiday guilt? Take the advice of Elsa and Let It Go!
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The holidays are mere weeks away, and if you’re like most people (specifically, most women) you’re feeling it. Crunch time is rapidly approaching. Maybe the thought of the holidays approaching makes your palms sweat. Maybe it sends your stomach into flips and flutters of anxiety. You’re not ready. You’re not going to be ready. Everyone is going to be SO disappointed. You’ll be ruining everyone’s Christmas!
First of all, if you need to get a handle on your holiday anxiety, be sure to check out my last post about it. It’s nothing to feel bad about, especially if you have trauma or issues tied to the holidays or your family of origin.
That being said, what about the rest of us? How can the average woman let go of holiday guilt?
How to let go of holiday guilt
For years, the though of Christmas shopping has sent waves of panic through my body. I thought the holidays were supposed to be a joyous time, and I used to love shopping for others. So what has changed?
Well for starters, I have a difficult relationship with my father. It’s not something I talk about, but it’s there. I won’t go into details but let’s just say the relationship is strained threadbare from years of tumult. So naturally this makes shopping for him stressful. Then there’s the money aspect. Then there’s the expectations in my head of what everyone will think of their gifts. And of course let’s not forget the time, effort and planning that goes into purchasing, ordering, wrapping, shipping and delivering said gifts. I’m already exhausted!
So these tips, are not just for those of you looking to let go of holiday guilt, they’re for me too. Let’s work on this together!
A survey in 2016 showed that a whopping 43% of Americans felt pressured to spend more than they could afford on gifts during the holidays. Whether that pressure comes from your kids “needing” the newest gaming console or the “need” to impress friends and relatives, it’s gotten out of hand. Gifts should be personal, thoughtful, but not necessarily lavish and expensive.
Don’t assume that Aunt Myrtle wouldn’t be just as happy with a pair of fabulous memory foam slippers as she would with a new iPad that she won’t know how to use. If you really must get her that iPad, why not make it a group gift from all of her favorite nieces and nephews?
We need to lose the notion of “the perfect gift”. What you’re looking for with the perfect gift is that overwhelming reaction, maybe even tears of joy. But know that there is zero correlation to elation and price tags. Some of the most amazing gifts I have gotten from family have cost nothing at all. I still have a clay jewelry box my youngest brother made me in art class in middle school.
Why? Because he hand made it just for me. AND that year I was living in New York and when my family flew out from Minnesota to spend Christmas with me, he carried it, wrapped in bubble wrap in a shoebox on his lap the entire 3 hour flight because he was afraid it would get broken otherwise. That gift meant more to me than any store-bought thing EVER and I still treasure it.
Think about the gift you’re giving. Are you gifting someone something for their reaction? Or because you think they will get use out of it?
Now let’s look at the flip side. Are you looking at a meager stack of gifts under your tree? Are you feeling that holiday guilt because you think you should have bought more? Or because you fear your kids are going to be disappointed? Kids by their very nature are always going to want more. We can’t possibly accommodate their every whim, nor should we.
Instead of feeling guilty you didn’t get your kid the new Xbox One console, or the latest iPhone, think about the positives: there’s a valuable lesson you’re teaching them. In the real world, we don’t always get every single thing we want. Your kids will learn they can work for things, and appreciate what they have all the more, which is a lesson noticeably missing from most of today’s generation.
My Nana used to tell me she always hated when someone bought her a lavish gift when she knew they didn’t have money. She always told me that while she put on a thrilled face out of politeness for their gesture, below the surface she felt guilt every time she used the gift, because she knew that they couldn’t afford it. She would have much rather had something less expensive and thoughtful.
Nana was right about so many things, and this was no exception. If you are living paycheck to paycheck, do you think your mom is going to feel comfortable wearing that diamond bracelet you got her? No way! She’s going to wonder whether you had money to put in your gas tank every time she looks at it. Hard pass. Now you’re just taking your holiday guilt and giving it to someone else. And that’s a gift no one wants to receive.
The bottom line is, the holidays are not about gifts. Stop agonizing over whether you spent enough, bought enough, did enough. YOU ARE ENOUGH. Period. Full stop.
If you choose to give gifts anyway, do not stress over them. Don’t pile on the holiday guilt. Figure out a reasonable budget, pull out some crafting supplies or look for thoughtful, cheap gift ideas. Check out our holiday gift guides, which have been thoughtfully curated based on specific interests of the recipient. I spent a lot of time putting them together to help inspire you and all the ideas are budget friendly in a variety of price ranges!
Bottom line-give yourself permission to LET GO of that holiday guilt. It isn’t serving you, and it’s not welcome at the holiday table this year!
What are your strategies for letting go of holiday guilt?
What sort of things do you feel guilty about when it comes to the holidays?