It’s OK to Say “No” During the Holidays.

02 December 2013

Holiday Madness

Hey… you over there.  Yes, you.  The one on the phone saying “We’d LOVE to come to your daughter’s cousin’s brother’s best friend’s holiday get together.  What can we bring?  Ten dozen cut out cookies?  It’s tomorrow night? Um.  Sure thing.” 

I’m also talking to you, parents of little kids trying to make everything the BEST. Christmas. Ever. and staying up until 4 am the night before wrapping gifts, only to be too tired to enjoy watching them open them.  The ones with the kids who haven’t had a normal nap in a week. 

And you, single person who always gets roped into helping everyone else in the family and running incessantly because, obviously, you have nothing better to do.  Can you just drive four hours to pick up Grandma? 

And you, PTO parent that just agreed to sew last minute costumes for the Christmas pageant for forty-five students, forty-four of whom are not your own, while working full time.

If I don’t do it, who will? 

We can’t go without the…

It’s tradition! 

The kids don’t have equal numbers of gifts!  What can we buy at ten pm? 

We’ve always…

I just need one last…

I just want it to be perfect. 

I feel obligated to… 

Everyone else is going.

We tell ourselves a bunch of bullshit during the holiday season.  Don’t we?

I get it.  There are work functions, family dinners, decorating and brunches.  There is shopping and Christmas cards and wrapping and just that one final, last minute gift.  There are school plays and cookie baking and don’t forget the Santa pictures.  There are friends having parties and babysitter shortages and your best friend is in town.  There are neighbors with their lights up and everything looking as jolly as the damn north pole. 

There isn’t enough time in the day or enough sleep in the night for the to do list you have going.  You are frazzled at best and heading for a full on holiday breakdown at worst.

So, make the decision to say no.

Say no?  I can’t do that!  Christmas is about family!  It’s about friends!  It’s about gifts and Santa and church functions and baking cookies!  It’s about **insert whatever ranks high on your priority list here** and it would ruin Christmas to say no!  What do you mean that I should tell my child’s teacher that I don’t have time to make twenty-seven pairs of reindeer antlers?  Why would I tell my extended family that I have time for dinner, but not four hours of caroling through the neighborhood?  Turn down my boss’ invitation to a five hour cocktail party four days before Christmas, are you crazy?  I can’t tell my siblings that we should stop buying gifts for each other!  If I don’t do my holiday letter and family photo, won’t people miss it?  My child can’t be the only one without a Tickle Me Elmo, yes, yes, of course I’ll pay four times the amount and spend half a day driving to pick it up!  The tree, how could we have forgotten the tree, it needs to look like Martha herself decorated it!

I think it goes without saying, I don’t mean that you have to say no to everything.  {Unless that is what you want to do, then book that ticket to the islands and say screw the whole thing.}  Just pick and choose the things that mean the most to you and your family and do those, forget the rest.  No really, just let the rest go.  If someone doesn’t understand, oh well.  It might be hard the first few times you do it, but it does get easier.  Take it from a recovering holiday YES-woman.  Like a Christmas miracle, it will feel like a weight has been lifted. 

Suddenly, you have time for bundling up with hot chocolate and driving around looking at Christmas lights on a Tuesday evening instead of baking twelve dozen cookies.  Or maybe you have the time and the desire to have the Clark Griswold-iest house on the block instead of making small talk at the company Christmas party.  Maybe you just want a quiet Saturday to sit around watching your favorite holiday movies and not getting out of your pajamas.  Maybe it’s less shopping and spending you want?  Or a built in nap every day for your children {or you!} to avoid the inevitable meltdowns?  Just me?

Set your priorities and your limits now, before you’re frazzled and chugging eggnog.  How much driving do you want to do?  What exactly do you want out of the holiday season?  How many parties do you want to go to?  Which friends do you want to see?  How much sleep do you want to get each night?  How much quiet time do you need?  How much extended family time is too much?  How much are you going to spend on gifts?  How many days of vacation are you going to take from work? 

Decide, and if it doesn’t fit into your wants or needs or priorities or time constraints, say no.  I know this is difficult for you to believe right now, but the holidays will survive regardless. 

You might even have a little breathing room to enjoy them.


Samantha @ 24 to 30 said...

Oh this makes me laugh because it's so true! Love it!

Lauren - @Minute_For_Mom said...

Awesome post! Thank you for the reminder ;)

Just A Normal Mom said...


SnoopyMeg said...

I am the queen of NO during the holidays and pretty much all the time! I have perfected the art of not spreading myself too thin! NAPS are essential in my house.....won't skip a nap unless absolutely necessary!

Melissa said...

OMG- thank you for telling me this, its like you just big sistered me and told me it was ok to say no to a party i was feeling guilty about not going just becasue....
thank you- i turned down the invite and now have a night to do whatever the heck i feel like doing
maybe we will actually put the tree up :)
anyways- great post and blog ;) love your humor!

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