Here’s a winter math problem for you:

• Take a “holiday season” that now starts with Halloween and rolls over Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Solstice, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Twelfth Night
• Add multi-media advertising, “buy-my-book-blog-posts,” and a slew of ‘named shopping days’ including Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and a bunch I haven’t yet absorbed….
• Add greeting cards, lights, music, wrapping, cooking and travel…
• Multiply by complicated blended (and sometimes “not so blended”) family structures..
• Remembering, of course, that in most cases “x” needs to equal a finite amount of time, energy and money… and, oh, crap… did you move the elf on the shelf?
• Answer for “why” — or how and when did winter get so far out of control?

One of my earliest memories is attending sales meetings with my 20-year-old father, then a distributor for Kirby vacuum cleaners. When a member of the team reached a goal there were wild, noisy celebrations with the whole group (of adults) parading around a city block with cymbals, drums and noisemakers.  I was too young to have any idea what they were so happy about but “the singing meetings” made a lasting impression: I like celebration.

It’s something I’ve re-learned many times as an adult.  But I wonder how much more difficult it is to find those things under all of the calendars, ‘wrapping’ and trying desperately to get the winter math to add up?

Some friends of mine will be celebrating the New Year with an Aikido cleansing class.  Others will gather for family dinner or gift exchange on a day of their choosing.  Some have done away with cutting trees and bringing them inside.  Another family I know has forgone gifts in favor of a creating a fund that lets them get together more often.  What all of these people have in common is they are exercising choices that make more time and space for what really matters: the love and gratitude we have for those with whom we share our lives.

Do you have ways to make more space for who and what matters to you?

### 13 Responses to “Winter Math”

1. I completely agree with you! That’s why I don’t sent out Christmas cards…I don’t enjoy anything about the process so I crossed it off my holiday to-do list long ago. It’s not worth the extra stress I feel just because it’s a society expectation. I would rather do holiday crafts with my daughter 🙂

2. I love the message to think outside the box to what really matters and simplify the craziness! We mono-gift (buy everyone the same thing), keep the focus on charity and giving, and try to keep it simple. I find myself saying no to a lot more things this year and fight off the urge to think I am “missing out”. It is so easy to keep adding more and more and more to the calendar and that is what I am really trying to not do this year. Thank you for the great reminder!!! I enjoyed the picture and the winter math humor! 🙂

• Hmmm…. mono-gift. What a great idea! Thanks.

3. Andrea–I’m so glad I took some time to read this! It made me laugh, but most importantly, you have brought some new possibilities to mind for how I will be with the next couple of weeks. Very needed today as I am heading to the airport twice today to pick up friends gathering here for another friend’s special birthday. I’m feeling the pull of all the work I “need” to do plus all the holiday stuff that is not done. Whew! Thank you, thank you!

PS: I LOVE the story of your father and celebrating their wins! And your doggy friend at the top, too.
Laurie

• Thanks, Laurie… for me, the laugh often clears the way. Enjoy your special time!

4. What a clever and creative post! It invites us to take a step back and examine our intent during this busy time of the year. And perhaps to enjoy a laugh at our own expense! Merry Christmas!

5. What a creative post — love the “math problem” metaphor! Because we have 7 kids, we draw names so everyone only has to buy one gift. What I’m making room for this holiday season is having ALL of our kids home for the first time in at least 6 years! It will be all warm and cozy and I can’t wait! Thanks for a morning smile!

6. Yes, we are in control of what matters most to us this holiday season. I remember trying to rush around getting to as many houses as possible in order to make everyone happy. Now we host and we spread the visits out over the month. So much stress we bring upon ourselves, we can also take it away. Andrea, I love your creativity using a math problem!

7. Great post! With my parents and siblings we draw one gift, with my 3 young kids we keep it really simple… something wanted, something needed, something made, and something to read… I ask grandparents and uncles to give the gift of time. We schedule a lot of time by the fire into our holidays! The thing I am learning about this season is asking for and receiving help. I am not a delegater, but with a broken right arm, and 3 kids, I have no choice… and it has been amazing!!!

8. Now that my boys are getting old (late teens early twenties) it’s getting easier to give up the traditions that go along with the season. My husband and I have never exchanged gifts and it’s always been about the kids, so now I’ve been incorporating more “giving” such as donating, charitable during the holiday season because trust me, I don’t need more “things.” And I never did get into sending holiday cards so one less thing to feel stressful about 🙂

9. Do I have ways? Let me count them 🙂

1. I no longer send out Christmas cards

2. I host a Christmas Eve party and that’s it. Done. Finis. Feliz Navidad. Pass the eggnog…I mean Bailey’s.

3. I do absolutely NOTHING on Christmas day. Except watch marathon episodes of Doctor Who.

4. It’s December 17th and my tree isn’t even up yet and I’m totally cool with that 🙂

5. I’m spending New Year’s weekend at Kripalu. Learning as much as I can about yoga nidra, getting a massage, and eating massive amounts of food made by Ayurvedic trained chefs. (okay, not so massive but I do love the food at Kripalu!)

10. Love the holiday math, even if it doesn’t add up to what I think the holidays should be about. Great reminder to be creative and that we don’t have to do it like everyone else or even like we did as kids. This year, our family opted for homemade gifts… should be interesting to see what happens 🙂 Another great article, Andrea.

11. Thanks Andrea for your seasonal suggestions and for making me giggle today. Just what I needed to hear as I ease out of the office and into my reflection, cleansing and celebrating! You are beautiful!

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