Saying No to Make Room for Yes

I made this ridiculous goal on November 23 that I would complete all of my Christmas shopping and wrapping before December 1. Never mind that my family was coming to stay with us for much of the week of Thanksgiving and my in-laws were all coming for Thanksgiving Day. You know, 8 house guests and then dinner for 22… no big deal, plus I was taking a day and a half of vacation.

P.S. I hadn’t even started thinking about the holidays prior to November 23, so it should come as no surprise that I completely failed at my goal (down in flames actually as I had nothing accomplished by way of progress by December 1.) It really wasn’t about the goal anyway (that’s not even me making excuses), it was the intent behind the goal. This year I wanted to set aside the to do list (with the goal being to have it completed before the month even started) and just enjoy the month of December in holiday anticipation.

One might assume that I’ve taken a break from writing here to tackle the to do list. Nope. I’ve just been taking it one day at a time. Christmas cards got ordered, but due to a snafu at Tiny Prints didn’t get addressed. It will get done. Presents have miraculously been purchased and wrapped. Decorations went up with lots of help from the kids and only two broken ornaments. Is there work to be done? Yes, but am I stressed about it? Not right now.

I’d like to think I was wise enough to have a master plan to get to this spot and most certainly would like to recreate it for next year, but there are no promises there. I think the secret has been just saying no.

Saying no feels icky to me. I turned down the invitation to Bigs’ friends’ birthday party that was on the same day as breakfast with Santa, my husband working, and an evening holiday party. He didn’t even know it and I nearly died when the mom replied to my RSVP that her child would be crushed. I also after much wrestling in my head said no to the holiday party too. I said no to filling out a feedback form for a volunteer event I participated in… after getting 2 personal reminders that I hadn’t returned it! I’ve said no to dinners out. All things I would have liked to do, except it has felt so much better to enjoy and savor the things I have said yes to.

Yes to volunteering for a Christmas shop for under-privileged kids where everything costs less than a dollar and wrapping is free. It doesn’t get much better than seeing the twinkle in a child’s eyes that he knows his tree will have presents for mom, dad, siblings, aunts, uncles, and teachers from him.

Yes to bedtime stories read only by the lights of the Christmas tree and one extra for good measure.

Yes to a day off with my husband where we do what he wants and needs.

Yes to enjoying a live performance of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” with our nieces and nephews. The laughter at Snoopy from Bigs’ cousin closest in age rippled through the audience and was unstoppable. Then everybody came to our house and surrounded our table for a family meal, perhaps my favorite way to be.

Yes to sitting with a friend and just being present for each other.

Yes to Breakfast with Santa at friends’ house. Littles was mostly brave and Santa was a good sport about not getting too close. On the way home, Bigs said, “Mommy, I know that wasn’t the real Santa.” I inquired how he knew that. “Did you see the size of his sack? It was way too small to hold presents for kids all over the whole world. That Santa must have been one of the helpers.”

Yes to volunteering at Ronald McDonald House for the families who find themselves away from home and with a sick child.

Yes to days where I didn’t put shoes on and spent the day at home just being a mom and wife.

Yes to cookie decorating thanks to a friend who knows my oven doesn’t work (really I just don’t bake well) who dropped off a dozen cut outs and frosting for the kids to enjoy.

Yes to feeling peaceful and satisfied.

Our Advent calendar says that I have ten days to go. Ten days where I can choose to push the bounds of my sanity or accept that things won’t be perfect… or maybe even get done. Ten days to decide yes or no. Ten days where I can embrace gratitude or feel outrage over unfulfilled entitlement. Ten days to prepare room in my heart for all that is to come.

What are you saying yes to this holiday season? Has there been anything you’ve regretted saying no to?

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2 thoughts on “Saying No to Make Room for Yes

  1. You are a wise woman. It took me a long time to figure out that it is sometimes hard to say “No” to things I don’t want to do, but think I should. And even more difficult to say “No” to things I want to do, but know I need to cut back. A wise friend used the phrase, “Guard your Yeses.”

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