Each year, when the Pottery Barn and William-Sonoma catalogs arrive in November, I have ideas of grandeur about how I will decorate for Christmas: A big, beautiful tree, new tartan plaid pillows on the couches, fresh greenery on the mantels, holly in all the vases … But those thoughts are only fleeting because I soon remember that I don’t “do” the holidays anymore. My kids have outgrown the over-the-top holiday hoopla, so I’ve scaled back in response … Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself to assuage any lingering guilt I may feel.
Last year at the Tarr house, it was The Year Without a Santa Claus — mainly because we were out of town for the holidays. This year, it’s what I’m affectionately calling, “Slacker Christmas.” You see, I really enjoyed our stress-free, minimalist approach to the holidays last year and decided to build on that in 2015. Earlier in the year, we celebrated Slacker Valentine’s Day, Slacker St. Patrick’s Day, Slacker Easter and even Slacker Halloween. Now, it’s Slacker Christmas. It’s all part of my attempt to live a simpler, calmer, better life. To cut back on stress and cut myself some slack in order to be happy.
What does Slacker Christmas look? It’s simple: No family excursion to find the perfect tree and cut it down ourselves with a hand-held saw. No color-coordinated, professionally shot Christmas cards mailed to 200 of our nearest and dearest. No catalog-inspired decorations or grandiose outdoor light display. No Elf on the Shelf, mistletoe or homemade cookies for Santa either. Not at the Tarr house. Instead, it’s a store-bought tree displayed in the only decorated room in the house, a small wreath on the front door with simple outdoor lights and an e-card that uses a nearly year-old family photo because it’s the most recent decent one we have. Practical and understated, with just enough holiday cheer to keep my boys happy and me sane.
I admit it’s easier for me to accept Slacker Christmas now that my kids are older and don’t believe in Santa Claus or the Elf on the Shelf. When they were younger, I went all out decorating for the holidays. I felt obligated to create a picture-perfect scene and tradition-filled memories. I became a lunatic for weeks, spending tons of time and money on something that really only excited them for all of 10 minutes before they were on to the next thing. Now that they are older (and I’m older), I feel less obligated to make my home an over-the-top, Pottery Barn-inspired wonderland. I have two boys. They don’t care about tartan plaid pillows. All they want is a tree with cheesy, colored lights, their stockings by the fireplace and an endless supply of candy canes. Easy, peasy. Slacker Christmas, I think I love you!
I do get a little envious momentarily, opening all the beautiful holiday cards we receive from family and friends. And I still get occasional pangs of guilt, wondering if I’m cheating my kids out of lifelong memories or pushing them to grow up too fast. But like my grandiose decorating ideas, these feelings are fleeting because I know that forcing a 9-1/2 and 12-1/2-year-old to sit on Santa’s lap at the mall or finding time to host a gingerbread house-making party amidst our already packed winter schedule is just too stressful and, frankly, not worth it. The same goes for filling the yard with plastic skeletons and styrofoam tombstones in October or dying and hiding three dozen eggs that no one will eat once found. I’m learning that less really can be more.
So whether you’re a holiday powerhouse or a holiday slouch, do whatever works for you in order to have a very Merry Christmas, stress-free!