“Tis the season to be [insert chosen word here]”

I’m carrying a little placard right in front of my mind’s eye reminding me that the Christmas carols I’m currently enjoying are not suggesting, “Tis the season to be FRANTIC, fa-la-la-la-la.”

G. K. Chesterton said, “To hurry through one’s leisure is the most unbusiness-like of actions.”

Christmas and the holiday season–and all that comes with the month of December–ought not to be a chore. If it is, and for me it has often been so, the scale has tipped into stressful territory, and I refuse to take that trip.


The funny thing is that I really don’t feel rushed and hurried, I only think by now I SHOULD be moving a whole lot faster.

We haven’t yet bought our tree. I have only made a few moves towards shopping for gifts–and those were on-line–didn’t take much energy.  I was planning (in my head) to create a family photo-card–oops! That didn’t happen. I did a little baking for work, but have several other social engagements and I have said I’d bring cookies. I have bought the ingredients–step one?

Christmas Candy

How many days until Christmas?

Our calendar reflects an upswing of activity. There are dinners with friends, a family birthday, a Saturday matinée performance of the Nutcracker with two little girls, and an assortment of special opportunities that only come once a year.

Succulent Wreath

About a month ago I mentioned I’d gone over into the land of calm and didn’t want to leave. Is just refusing to acknowledge that I have more to do than time a reasonable way to maintain a peaceful pattern? Maybe I don’t need to be reasonable. That’s a thought!

I’m not usually able to avoid reciting mental lists, or feeling the rush of time as I check off commitments and the weighty crush of the calendar, but somehow that’s working for me right now as I conduct my own little experiment.

If I continue to move quietly through my entire Christmas season, I wonder what will happen?


My yoga practice is really important to my overall well-being. Typically my inner motor runs fast. And when I began to realize that I dreaded an entire month, 1/12th of a precious year, I acknowledged only I could slow that down.

Yoga, with particular attention paid to conscious breathing, is a welcome antidote to stress. The words frantic and yoga don’t belong in the same sentence.

I found a wonderful little video offering a very easy mini-yoga lesson. if you’re running too quickly and would like to slow down just a little bit, why don’t you give it a try? I think you’ll immediately feel lighter–after you skip through the incredibly noisy ad!

This is where I would normally encourage a weekend exhale, but I think for this time of year, I’m more inclined to aim for slow, conscious breathing. Enjoy it all. Crank up the Carols and holiday songs and enjoy the season.

And for the many of you experiencing freezing temperatures, I would think slowing down isn’t much of a choice. Stay safe, and throw out the expectations. I hope you’ll share how your holiday activities are impacted by a very inhospitable weather pattern.

You might have some choice words to describe your holiday survival plan.

“Tis the season to be ________________.” What word would you choose?

68 thoughts on ““Tis the season to be [insert chosen word here]”

  1. Dear Debra, ah, a word invitation! What word to choose: content? joyous? grateful? gleeful? calm? innocent? expectant? I think the last word works best for me.

    For myself, I already have enough shopping done that I think I can complete it this Saturday on 39th Street here in Independence and with one more foray into Amazon’s book offerings. I tried to get most of the shopping done during Thanksgiving week so that I could move leisurely through December and enjoy the opportunities that Advent presents for growth in the human spirit and for delight in the season.

    I’ve tried yoga but with the asthma I find that trying to breathe deeply is somewhat stressful for me. So for myself, meditating as a tree helps calm the frayed edges of my expectations for what I’ll get done in the days ahead. Peace.

    PS: the yoga video didn’t display itself for me when I read your blog.

    1. You sound very prepared and serene going into the holidays, Dee. I love the visualizing yourself as a tree. That’s a fantastic way to meditate. I’m sorry about the video, but I’m not sure. I went to my husband’s computer to see if it would access, and I did have to “toggle” it a couple of times to get it to engage. Sometimes these youtube issues are outside my ability to de-bug! One thing is for certain, I’ve found that youtube has literally hundreds of wonderful meditation/yoga practices to guide into a quiet place. Sounds like you’ve found yours, and I’d stay there. 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend, my friend, and I hope the current really, really, really cold snap I’m hearing about doesn’t blow too hard in your vicinity! ox

  2. This year I have decided not to bake the treats I normally do. I only eat a few which I can buy and the rest of the family will have to survive without them (or buy them too). Somehow that has taken a load off my mind.

    1. I haven’t done the baking yet, Kate. I just bought the ingredients…on hope! LOL! I don’t bake much so I think I’m hoping I can be a little creative, but if not, that’s what bakeries are for, right? I hope you enjoy your weekend. Do you have a fireplace? I wouldn’t leave it!

  3. Tis the season to be… grateful. I think, for me, the gratitude theme carries right over from Thanksgiving (including the Canadian Thanksgiving in early October) to Christmas. It’s hard not to feel thankful for all that I have at this time of year. Chief among those things I’m grateful for, the time I get to spend with loved ones.

    1. Nancy, I think gratitude, being grateful, is the perfect way to keep peace, calm and joy throughout a busy season. I love that you mentioned “grateful” as your word. I relate well to the joy in spending time with loved ones, and I think just by you mentioning this I can really let go and enjoy even the more tedious aspects of “getting ready.” This Thanksgiving was the first in many when I had my whole immediate family around the table, and as I looked at each one I did feel such a fullness of gratitude. I will “copy” your word and carry that forward. Thank you. 🙂

  4. I think you’ve been hearing my thoughts from afar – just last weekend I was talking to my family about exactly this subject. I was saying that all this chaos is not what Christmas is supposed to be about, and how I’d really like to go back to a real celebration of Christmas that wasn’t so heavily rooted in shopping, deadlines, and other people’s expectations. A Christmas that didn’t start commercially before Halloween even came – one store I was in during October actually had Halloween decorations side-by-side with Christmas trees! I remember enjoying baking special cookies, not squeezing in a baking session when I could while thinking about how many other things still had to be done. So, since it’s too late this year to make major changes, I’m trying to focus on each thing I do and enjoy it – when I’m baking, it’s all that matters, and I’ll enjoy it. When we decorate the tree this weekend, there’ll be nothing else on my mind but the beauty of the moment. And maybe next year we can go back to basics a bit more.

    1. You’ve said it beautifully! It’s all about expectations, and not only do we somehow try to meet what other’s expect, but then we pile on fresh personal deadlines and requirements. I do sometimes wonder how it has happened that we’ve come so far from what I remember of Christmas years ago. I think this year it really hit me that I create more frenzy than is necessary and I simply pulled the plug. I have a busy season, but most of what will be the “busyness” is being with friends or family, and I think I’d like the holidays to be about relationships. You’ve stated so well what I also want to do. Just enjoy whatever I’m doing at the moment, and then be satisfied. I don’t do myself or anyone else any favors by being so stretched that I am just moving through the patterns. I hope you enjoy, really enjoy your weekend. Let’s neither one of us overdo it! 🙂

  5. That’s a wonderful quote. A word of caution or restaint to all the great consumers out there during the holiday season. Thank you very much for this post. That video looks good too.

    1. Thank you, Bumba! I think maybe some of the consumer-frenzy I’ve seen has had an effect on me this year and I just don’t want any part of that! I’m glad you feel similarly. I’m delighted you stopped by and added your voice to the discussion! 🙂

      1. As a Jew I draw a pass from the Christmas shopping, so for years I’ve been spectating, suffering through the ubiquitous holiday music, long lines, traffic, and mayhem – none of which involves much religion or good cheer. And it just gets worse and worse, The holiday.. er .. shopping season is longer and longer, more and more mercantile. But Happy Holidays to you.

        1. Mayhem! Perfect word! I appreciate you perspective, Bumba. I think you state it well when you observe that all the Christmas “noise” doesn’t include much religion or good cheer. It’s quite a statement! I enjoy time with family and friends, oh yes, and I love Christmas cookies, :-), but in general, the non-stop frenzy of buying that begins before we even get through Halloween is almost painful if not checked! Thank you for the holiday wishes, and I hope the best for you, too. I would think you’d want to avoid all malls and major shopping centers for the next couple of weeks. It’s your only hope! LOL!

  6. Tis the season to be merry! That’s the word I’m choosing. My plan is to sail through feeling merry all the time. Wish me luck! I love that succulent wreath – very pretty. We haven’t bought our tree yet either. I’ll be doing that next Saturday. I don’t want to get it too early or it will die on me before the big day xx

    1. I think “merry” is the essential Christmas word, Charlie! I do wish you luck, although I think you seem to have a wonderful spirit about you. Preparing for your busy family should give you many reasons to be both busy AND merry. Actually we don’t like to get our tree too early either, for some of the same reasons. Some years it’s still quite warm in December. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Let’s stay merry!

  7. … to be happy? 😉 I’ve had a week of baking, and most of the shopping is done. I’m determined to enjoy Advent this year! I’d say do just a little less, and no one will even notice. There is so much frenzy and everyone asking “are you ready for Christmas” that I often feel I’ve forgotten something! Take it easy and have a good weekend Debra!

    1. I think you hit on something essential, Cathy. There is a lot of “talk” that moves through the day with people asking “are you ready?” and maybe adding a bit to the stress just by implying that there’s so much to do. Cutting back has felt good. We had to make the choice not to create too many deadlines. If we don’t set such high expectations we will indeed be much happier! 🙂 I think being happy at Christmastime is high on my list, too. I hope you have a good weekend, too. I’m impressed that most of your shopping is done…that I do need to get moving on! 🙂

    1. I’m so glad you liked the wreath, Lori! It isn’t mine, although I took the photo at a local nursery and would like to make my own. It was simply a chicken-wire wreath form with sphagnum moss as the filler. Then the small succulent pieces are all rooted in it. Isn’t it marvelous? It would take a lot of cuttings, but I sure do want to make my own. You, too?

    1. Oh we do value being “at peace,” don’t we Colleen? Nothing better than to feel that way. And I hope you can keep the Christmas mania to a minimum, too. It is as easy as just stopping and letting go, and at the same time difficult when everything we hear and see around us pulls us towards “more.” Peace is a good word for the Christmas season. We can both practice that. Ahhhhh! 🙂

  8. Thank you for echoing how I have felt about this holiday for years. I feel we have gotten so far away from Christmas — and it has become this manic uber-holiday. Over the years, I’ve pared down the holiday — keeping what I enjoy. ‘Tis the season? Hmmm. What word to put there? ‘Tis the season for simplifying.

    1. Simplifying is a wonderful way to approach the holidays, Kevin. I really do want to enjoy this time of year and not feel like we’re participating in the mania. I think this is the first year I’ve openly acknowledged I have more control over that than I wanted to admit. So I have just slowed it all down and when I get either tired or feel like I’m on auto-pilot, neither of which feels satisfying, I’m just done for the day! I am trying to adopt the attitude of “simplification” in every possible situation these days, so I appreciate adding “simplifying” to the list of words. It’s a great one!

  9. Just today, I issued a decree that I would not be baking as many sweets this year. I will bake, just cut back. I felt a weight lifting, Debra, even though I enjoy baking. What shopping is needed will somehow get done (it always does) and the decorating, besides the tree, will happen in time. For us, here on the Cutoff, tis the season to be waiting (and grateful).
    It is interesting to read the comments you are getting. Thanks, Debra, for this insightful post.

    1. I’m glad to hear from you Penny. Are you caught in this really freezing weather? If so, maybe baking is a good idea for more heat? 🙂 Seriously, I do think the whole idea of cutting back anywhere we can is probably reasonable. In the weeks leading up to the holidays a lot of ideas get floated, sounding a lot more reasonable than when the season arrives. We can be kind to ourselves by simply realizing we aren’t machines. We need to know when we have other priorities that take some of our energy, too. I hope you continue to enjoy your time on the Cutoff, and I love your comment that the season is also about being grateful. That is really it, isn’t it? Stay warm if you can!

  10. Tis the season to be. To just be. (After I put my own tree up today, and put the lights on, only to discover that ones that worked when I tested them no longer worked on the tree, I decided it had to just be. Or curse. Maybe I did a little of the latter before arriving at the former. 🙂 )

    I hope your weekend helps you mark some things off your list in a leisurely, enjoyable, festive way, Debra. Because what’s the point of this season if we can’t take care of ourselves?

    1. I’m afraid I’d break some of my own rules if the lights didn’t work, Andra! But you arrived at the best possible conclusion, I think. Just “be” is one of those phrases that can sound like a “pat” response, but it really isn’t! You may not know how to tell someone else what it means, but when you experience just “being” you know you’ve arrived at a really peaceful place, and there’s nothing quite like it. I love your choice of words. I was out tonight with a good friend and we have a party tomorrow night. For me this year, the holidays are about friendships and relationships and that’s going to be my festivity. I’m so glad you’ve added to the list and sharing, my friend. Enjoy your beautiful tree…lights optional. 🙂

    1. I like the word “centered” very much, Marie. I think that’s perfect. I do love yoga and perhaps 2014 will give you a chance to think about it, too. I have made some very good friends at my yoga class, too–an unexpected pleasure. 🙂 Thank you for adding to our list of words. I like your choice!

  11. Such an interesting & different wreath, and I’m not particularly a succulent fan–I like it. I think the table tree display is simply divine, but that would work in my apartment. Simplify = destressing and you remind your readers and friends the steps to do so. It can be a challenge when your hosting the major events, but those watching will see and sense calm and peacefulness. Hugs, E

    1. I loved the wreath, Ellen, and took the photo at Roger’s Gardens–so hopefully I can make my own! I had a very busy weekend and managed to still find time to be “still” so that’s a good start. 🙂 Fortunately I’m the guest at more events this season and hosting very little. I think that makes a tremendous difference in my stress levels. I’m so glad you were able to comment this time, my friend. Whatever the obstacle, it must have moved. LOL! ox

    1. Thoughtful is a great word, Robert. Thank you for that. It fits well with what I’m considering, too. It would seem to me that “thoughtful” is the perfect companion word to chi and meditation, too. I know the importance of these practices and I’m delighted to hear that you do, too. 🙂

  12. “Tis the season to be snuggled by a warm fire, pup in arms and a good book.. maybe a glass of wine as well.” Oh, Bam, I feel the same way, I’ve had fun decorating, where I’m stuck is the present buying this year. I just don’t care, is that bad? I’m sick of Christmas being commercialized and wish it was more like Thanksgiving with family and friends as a focus. I’ve taken each of my kids shopping for their gifts and that is it. I wish presents were for all of those under the age of 10.. when they still came from Santa Claus! Namaste to you!! xx

    1. Barb, You said it beautifully and I agree with your observation that gift giving for children under ten would be preferable! We have really cut back in my family this year, and that is helping. We all came to the same conclusion that the joy in the season was just being sucked out of us! One day it almost struck me funny and I suggested we just sit in a circle and pass cash around! So simplifying the gift giving, we drew names and put reasonable cash limits on the amount we will spend, has eased my tension considerably! The decorating and baking can really be delightful when we aren’t feeling rushed. You have created such beauty in your home and I suspect that is perceived as a wonderful gift to your family and friends. I do admire that and it gives Christmas a magical touch for children of all ages! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, Barb. And Namaste to you, too, my friend. ox

    1. Reflective is a wonderful word! I think we all need to reflect upon how we are approaching this season. If we go through it blindly following the crowd we’ll find ourselves exhausted and in debt come January! oxo

  13. Debra, Dee has chosen the word I feel is perfect for the Advent season – expectant. For me this is the time of waiting and looking forward to a time of celebration yet to come. I’m so pleased you’re managing to keep your calm amidst the frenzy of pre-Christmas preparations. I don’t do yoga, but find meditation has the same effect on me.

    1. Expectant really is a wonderful word, Perpetua. I think it fits advent and Christmas perfectly. It has been a very busy weekend, but yes, I was very calm! LOL! I’ve given myself quite a talking to and I’m refusing to get into the frenzy. The best thing I’ve noticed is that I’m finding people all around me saying the very same thing. I’ve been surprised to hear others saying they want the Christmas season this year to be more about family and friends and less about some of the more commercial trappings that drain resources, time and energy! It’s very affirming! Thank you so much for adding your voice to this discussion!

  14. I come over here to relax, and now I’m frantic! 😉 …. Oh well, now we are trying to get caught up with the normal routine, let alone the holiday stuff. I see that SoCal is a tad cool at the moment. Stay warm!!!! … and I wanted to say Hi Debra!

    1. It’s really good to hear from you, Frank. I have thought of you and hoped you were getting through the many things that need such close attention when a loved one passes away. I’m sure it’s all been very hard for your FIL, too. I hope it’s possible to get some rest and only attend to the essentials. You probably have some major events at the church with the bell choir–that is probably enough. 🙂 And yes, I haven’t wanted to say one word about the cold because of course, all “cold” is relative. But I have to admit it’s cold! I took pictures of frost on the windows this morning–It was an interesting and unusual look. Thanks for checking in Frank. I’m so glad you did.

      1. We were busy, but I slept well. Fortunately, my SIL was staying with FIL, which took a load off of us … but she returned home (3.hrs away), so we become monitors. After all, his tough time lies ahead. Stay warm.

  15. I’m calm! I’m calm! Well, I’m nearly calm 🙂
    Have a great Christmas season, Debbie. I’m off for a Christmas meetup with my daughter at a historical house in the Peak district. It’s themed with Narnia 🙂 Can’t wait!

  16. I think you’re very wise. Christmas always gets so hectic that we often forget to enjoy it. Since we’ve started making most of our gifts, we haven’t had to do the shopping frenzy, which has calmed things down enormously. Wishing you a peaceful and joyous December.. x

    1. What a wonderful tradition to make most of your gifts, Celia. I can at least say that this year we have cut back a lot, realizing we have more than we need! I hope you, too, continue to have a peaceful and “no-frenzy” December. 🙂

  17. dandyknife

    ‘Tis the season to be joyful. That’s an ideal, mind you, not a given. Too many sleepless nights so far, worried about either how poorly prepared I am for the next musical gig or how poorly I played or sang at the one just gone by. Seriously, no one who HEARD me lost any sleep — why should I?
    Maybe I’ll check out that yoga lesson you posted. 🙂

    1. You have my curiosity definitely engaged. I need to know more about your musical references…I’ll have to go back and do some more reading. I’ve only recently been introduced, and so far it seems to me you have a great many interests and abilities. 🙂

      1. dandyknife

        Too many interests, not enough expertise. If I were something really quiet and long-lived, like a cedar f’rinstance, the rest of the forest would say I had attention deficit disorder. 😀

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