Sandy’s Christmas Story

Radio Podcast2

People often ask me why I focus on helping people enjoy their holidays. The answer is really rather simple. First, it’s fun to see people turn their holidays around, to see them create something they really enjoy. Second, holidays and special celebrations are just a small piece of our life but the attitudes and strategies we use to make them into happy moments and cherished memories can be carried over into everyday life. By helping people have a happy, stress-free holiday, I really get to help them love their life. 

Personally I’ve always enjoyed special celebrations, from birthday dinners to Christmas Eve parties these special events provide fun, love and great memories. When I was growing up I looked forward to such events with great anticipation. As special days approached, I enjoyed helping my mom bake, wrap gifts or decorate the house. Then, when the big day arrived, I loved getting ready; soaking in a steamy shower, fussing with hairstyles, dressing up and playing with jewelry were all part of the fun. 

When I got married and became responsible for my own holidays, things changed a bit. Instead of simply helping my mom and enjoying the day, I was responsible for creating the day. I was suddenly in charge of the decorating, cooking, hosting and budgeting for the whole affair. This was a different experience and I found it changed the feeling of the festivities. 

After we had children, things got even busier. Now I had children’s birthday parties, milestone celebrations and special events to plan. On top of that, I was busy trying to make their holidays magical and memorable. 

What did all of this mean for me? It meant I got lost in the logistics. The planning, financing and hosting of the events took over and the magic was lost. Oh, I still enjoyed myself, but I didn’t have as much fun and the fun I did have came at a very high price. I spent a lot of time being stressed out and I lived through events rather than experiencing them.  

One year as I prepared for Christmas, I realized I wasn’t really looking forward to the holiday. Whenever I thought about it, all I could see were logistics that had to be dealt with and the mountain of toys the girls would receive as gifts that I had to find space for in the house. This wasn’t the magical holiday of my youth. 

As I contemplated buying presents for my girls, I began to think about all the gifts they would receive from other people and I realized I didn’t even want to buy presents for them; I felt like I was shopping because I had to and not because I wanted to. There was no joy in the giving. And that’s when it hit me, I didn’t have to do it this way. I didn’t have to shop when I didn’t feel like it. I didn’t have to do things simply because we’ve always done them. I could change things if I didn’t like them. 

I didn’t relish the thought of shopping for more gifts, but I did love to do things with the girls. Some of our favorite activities were baking and making crafts. And if we were going to make crafts, why not make Christmas presents? When the idea of making presents came to me, I ran off to talk to my husband about it. I have to say he was a good sport. When I came to him and suggested he, the girls and I no longer buy gifts for each other but make something instead, he took it in stride and agreed to give it a go.

That year the four of us made all of our presents for each other and we discovered a whole new world of Christmas bliss. Suddenly the Christmas season was a time of little girl whispers and happy secrets. They spent time with Dad in his work room hammering and sawing away. They hung out with me, painting and giving advice. And the girls bonded with each other over the secrets they kept from Mom and Dad.

In the years that followed I discovered a bounty of unexpected blessings from this one change in our season and that inspired me to start Heart Filled Holidays, to help families find the joy in their Christmas season and in their lives.