how to keep the holidays joyful

by Joanna on December 12, 2013

Mike’s aunt gave his mom some great advice for the holidays. She said “decide what you want to do and just do that.”

Simple. Decide what you want to do and just do that.

This time of year is crazy. There are lots of places to go and people to see. And a lot of tasks that need to be completed to go to those places and see those people.

For a time of year that is supposed to be about family, love, joy, hope, and peace, there are so many demands on your time and energy.

It’s easy to get burnt out and not enjoy the most wonderful time of the year. In fact, many times this time of year can be one of the most stressful.

I think that’s partly because we feel so many obligations. Feel like we have to do this or that to make someone else happy. And often we give in to those obligations and in doing so, we still a little bit of joy from ourselves.

But it really doesn’t have to be this way. We can start with the simple advice from Mike’s aunt. Decide what you want to do and just do that.

You can do it. Trust me.

I actually had a great experience with this last year. Last year, I mentioned that we were having a new type of Thanksgiving. But, I never shared how that went.

Long story short Thanksgiving usually goes like this: lunch at 1pm, dinner at 4pm, double food coma and complete exhaustion by 6pm. Last year, I said we’re going to do it different. I’d really like to take a nap after the first meal instead of rush around. So I told my dad that we’d come a little bit later. After the first meal at Mike’s parents, I took a nap. I woke up without an alarm and as soon as I woke up I wanted to go see my family. We got there around 6 or so and ended up staying and chatting for hours. I think we didn’t leave until close to 11!

In doing that, we got relaxed, quality time with both of our families. I was completely present and happy at both events and my family was able to have all of me, the happy, joyful Joanna. They got me. The Joanna I want to be.

So, I know from experience, you can decide what you want to do and just do that. And your holidays may actually be happier for it.

Tell me: what do you really want to do this holiday season? what do you want permission not to do?

P.S. Here’s a beautiful post about this same subject:

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy December 12, 2013 at 10:14 pm

I want more time with my husband. Both of us feel guilty, even a little sad, if we don’t divide equal attention between both of our families. However, I just read a really great blog post that said you become a family when you get married — having kids doesn’t make you a family. This really stood out to me, because I always find myself saying, “When we have kids we can start our own traditions,” “When we have kids, we can spend more time at our own house on Christmas.” The truth is, we could do both of those things now (and probably should)!


2 Joanna December 13, 2013 at 3:15 pm

Awesome! More time with your husband sounds great. I love what you’re saying about becoming a family when you get married. That’s so true but I’ve thought the same thing you have. Ok, so it sounds like you want to spend time with three families this holiday season: 1) You + Husband 2) Your family 3) Your in-laws. How can you carve out a little more time for #1 this holiday season? OR What’s a tradition you could start this year?


3 Stacie @ Simply Southern Stacie December 13, 2013 at 3:09 pm

I love this post! Those are some very wise words. I wish I could follow them, but I am such a people pleaser. Around the holidays especially, it can be so hard to just say no. And then I wonder why I end up stressed? : )

This is my first Christmas having my parent’s divorced, so I think I am going to take this advice to heart for sure!


4 Joanna December 13, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Thanks, Stacie! Boy, do I know all about the people pleaser thing. Give yourself permission to say no. Because in saying no to someone else, you’re saying yes to yourself. And you deserve a yes.
Good luck with Christmas this year. I know from experience that it may be a little awkward, so try to embrace the good in the new.


5 Elizabeth December 13, 2013 at 5:51 pm

I have to say that juggling families during the holidays is one of the only reasons I like to be so far away. Yes, it’s lonely at times but I love being able to have these first few years with just the two of us. Definitely will be trying to remember this in the years to come though!


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