Image credit: Tessa MW Photography

Let me preface this by saying I love the holidays! Christmas is my favourite time of the year. I love the warmth and kindness of the season. I adore the lights and trees. And mostly I enjoy spending time with my family. Since childhood Christmas has always been a magical time of year. Now that I have my own children I am always excited to share this special time of year, and especially the magic of giving and Santa Claus. However, I sometimes find myself wondering, is Christmas getting a little over the top?

Every year the Christmas kick-off begins earlier and earlier. Community tree light ups were in early December during my youth, now the majority are in November. In the eighties, we were lucky if we did Christmas themed activities the last two weeks before the big day, and now I’ve discovered that I have to buy tickets well in advance if I want my children to go to any Christmas themed event in December. Back then, radio stations wouldn’t even play carols until mid December. This year we found one of our stations blasting the festive tunes in late November. And Christmas trees!!! My mom was always a stickler that the tree went up one week before the 25th. While I personally prefer to get our tree up at least two weeks in advance, I am always a little stunned to see Christmas trees and decoration in Costco in October (don’t even get me started on the snowsuits in July…)! Last week I overheard a woman telling her friend that her tree stays up until the beginning of February! I believe that it all comes down to your own preferences, but I do find that once those boughs are decorated and the house elf has arrived my kids become hyper monsters that require superhuman effort to control, which is ironic since the elf is supposed to remedy that…

As the years have passed I have found myself nearly thankful when Christmas is over and  commercialism takes a break. The lights, the bells, the traffic jams in mall parking lots, the pinterest worthy delectables you must share with others, and mostly the pressure to see it all and do it all and not fail your children by spoiling their expectations of Christmas. It is all too much! In fact, I found last year’s Christmas such a sensory overload that I suffered a post xmas hangover until September of this year! Its terrible when you don’t want to even think about the holiday season until it is nearly upon you because you’re still remembering the chaos of last year. By the actual big day itself, I often feel like Christmas is being shoved down my throat from all angles.

So this year I have made a promise to myself (and my sanity) that we will focus on just the important traditions, and leave the rest. There is no possible way that we can get to everything and still find time to do what is most important; spend time as a family. Christmas isn’t about being the best decorator, or visiting the most sites. It is about love and giving and time spent enjoying each other’s company. Is there anyone else out there who feels the same way?

Natalie is an educator in St. Albert, Alberta. She is the mother of three incredible little girls under 6, and one evil cat. She is passionate about adventure travel, culture and running.

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