What Are You Saying Yes To?

Nine days till Christmas, and I still have at least three more gifts to buy (assuming I haven’t forgotten anyone), multiple projects to move forward and untold miscellaneous tasks that keep popping up like some kind of nightmare whack-a-mole game. Isn’t this supposed to be the season of peace and joy?

This year, I pledge to take back the beauty of the Christmas season. If I added up the hours it would take to do everything I want to do before December 25, it would keep me going well into the new year. So I will remember: every Yes I say to one thing is a No to something else. And, in the spirit of giving, I’d like to share the gifts I am giving myself to fully enjoy this Christmas season.


Whenever I start to feel overwhelmed, I will take a deep breath. Even a short pause in the midst of chaos is a great way to refocus and put things in perspective. So when my daughter tells me at 10:00 p.m. on Thursday that she needs to bring a gift and snacks for the last day of school, I will take a deep breath and remember that failing to plan once in grade 8 does not mean that she will go on to fail in university and in life.

Say Yes to What’s Important

It’s so easy to get caught up in the “everything is important” mindset of the holiday season. Do I really need new tree ornaments and a gourmet turkey dinner? What if I focused my energy by asking this question: If I do this, what am I saying No to? Every time I take on a new task, I’m assigning my time and energy to that task at the expense of another. Especially at this time of year, I want to be crystal clear about the value of what I say Yes to.

Remember That I Made It Up

Ah, family holiday dinners, a chance to reconnect, laugh, share a glass of Christmas cheer with a side of childhood resentment and unresolved adolescent angst. When that happens – or just run of the mill political discussions – I will remember that all the thoughts I have about what’s going on are simply stories I’ve made up in my own head. That look of irritating self-righteous superiority? Just in my head! Maybe she’s thinking about her favourite sports team. It can be very powerful – and liberating – to realize that so much of our thinking is our own made up stories. Once we realize that, we can choose to go with that thought or to choose another.

So these are my commitments to living a more peaceful and joyful holiday season. What tips do you have?