For The One Who Couldn’t Fit it All In This Christmas…

Inside: Here you’ll find a little reminder that a happy holiday season isn’t contingent on you fitting it all in. Here’s a message to the one who couldn’t fit it all in this Christmas.

The other day, my daughter opened the fridge and pulled out an apple. While closing the door, she turned to me out of nowhere and said, “Wait! We didn’t pick apples at the apple orchard this year did we?

For a second, I froze. She was right.

You see, ever since my oldest could walk, I’ve taken them to the apple orchard in late September to pick apples. Literally, every year. Partly for the eventual homemade applesauce and apple pie, but a little bit for the photo op too.

I hoped they wouldn’t care or even notice we missed it this year, but based on the look my daughter was giving me, she absolutely did.

Here’s the thing though. Five-years-ago, this conversation would have wrecked me. The thought of not checking off an important tradition such as apple picking, strawberry picking or sugar cookie making would have devastated me as a mom.

I thought traditions such as these could only be called “traditions” if executed with precision and consistency. Once established, they should be repeated every year for all of eternity. Amen.

grinch agreement

That’s just not true. Just as sentiment isn’t locked inside a family heirloom or souvenir, neither is tradition beholden to the activity itself. Tradition and sentiment are found in experiencing connection. The activity is simply the vehicle. Holiday traditions don’t need to occur the exact same way, every…single…year in order for Christmas to feel like a success. The joy isn’t contingent upon what you’re able to squeeze in, check off or experience.

That’s a lot of unnecessary pressure we’ve been putting on ourselves. And it’s us who pay the highest price for it too. We miss out on experiencing the joy in the everyday moments when we’re too distracted by all the should-do’s and have-to-do’s.

My response to my daughter was far different than it would have been years ago. Instead of apologizing and feeling anxious for failing to maintain this “tradition,” I explained the intentionality with which the decision to forgo apple picking this year was made.

It wasn’t an oversight. It was on purpose. I chose for our family what mattered most while ensuring we weren’t overextended. This is something to celebrate, not regret.

Yeah,” I said, “You’re right. This is the first year we didn’t pick apples, BUT it’s also the first year all three of you played fall soccer. That was so much fun! We just can’t do it all and we exchanged apple picking for soccer. I think soccer was totally worth it.

She understood.

What a gift it is to model for our children the practice of fiercely guarding our time and energy.

Intentional living is about making exchanges. It’s about deciding where we are going to spend our time, money and limited energy when we can’t fit it all in. It’s knowing that some years, family traditions need to sit the bench to ensure we have the capacity to enjoy what fits. We’ve got to be willing to physically miss a few things or else we run the risk of mentally missing it all.

What good is it to cross the holiday finish line having enjoyed none of it?

on fitting it all in

Friend, if you didn’t fit it all in this year, own it, rest easy, sip some hot cocoa and soak in what you did.

Perhaps we’ll make it back out to pick apples again next year, but maybe not. We’ll have to see how fall looks in years to come. Sometimes it’s necessary to let go of traditions so we can make room for new ones.

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5 thoughts on “For The One Who Couldn’t Fit it All In This Christmas…

  1. Wonderful post. Just read book and was simply the best. I’m a mom of two boys under 10 and always loved the minimalist lifestyle. I always thought I had to do it “one way” the book was filled with inspiration faith and moments of abundance. Thank you and merry Christmas!!

  2. Thank you for this — I woke up this morning feeling so much dread for all the things I didn’t manage to get to and trying to figure out how to fit a bazillion things in the next couple of days. Probably zero of which will bring me anything but stress and exhaustion. I really appreciate this message — happy holidays!

  3. This article was so relatable. My husband and I have both had Covid following Christmas Day so many of our plans have had to be cancelled, including activities we would traditionally do with our boys. Although it has been a disappointment for us all to change activities we have had just as much enjoyment just staying at home in each others company playing games and chilling out. I feel I have also been a lot more present and appreciated the little moments a lot more as I haven’t been rushing to get my to do lists completed or feeling we must get our usual traditions checked off. I would prefer to be Covid free but I have been grateful for the down time it has provided.

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