Things I am NOT Doing This Holiday Season: A Holly Jolly Manifesto

You read that right. Here are 25 things I am not doing for this holidays this year:

  1. Comparing my holiday to the perfectly curated ones I see on Instagram. My whole life is basically one big unfiltered swipe, and that’s okay.
  2. Buying myself Christmas pajamas. I am 41. I don’t want Christmas pajamas, not even for the Gram.
  3. Baking the entire Betty Crocker cookie playlist. Usually, my kitchen is a cookie factory from Thanksgiving through New Year, and it is cozy and delightful and as delicious as it sounds. This year? I am gearing up for a January Whole30, and none of us needs that much sugar.
  4. Eating Christmas candy, except for on Christmas day. I mean, who can resist a stocking full of Fannie May? Not this old lady. But I can resist the daily temptation of the dreidel-shaped candy dish in my living room.
  5. Stressing out about Christmas cards. I sent the first 20 with American flag stamps, and I am totally fine with it.
  6. Buying my dog a present. Because she’s a dog, and she doesn’t even celebrate Chrismukkah.
  7. Obsessing about the Elf on the Shelf. If he moves, he moves. If he doesn’t, the kids must have been extra bad.
  8. Setting foot inside Kohls unless it’s to pick up my online order from the robot in the online-pickup locker. Ditto Target. Drive-up app orders all the way. Ho ho freaking ho.
  9. Day drinking, even if the kids’ school break gets extended because it’s too cold to leave the house. (This has happened before. Why do people even live here? Why do I live here?)
  10. Overthinking gifts. If I see something cool, I am just going to buy it right that second. Who has time for second trips to the store?
  11. Wrapping complicated packages. It’s all brown paper with green polka-dots and red yarn this year.
  12. Buying my kids too many gifts. It’s OK to say no to the really extravagant requests. 13-year-old who is asking for an iPhone11, I am looking at you.
  13. Traveling. I want to spend every night of our holiday break in my own bed waking up to my own coffee. Bah humbug.
  14. Displaying any holiday décor unless I love it. I left a lot of stuff in my attic bins, friends, because it’s only junking up my house if it sparks joy.
  15. Buying new holiday décor. Enough is enough! Unless I can’t live without it, it is not coming home with me.
  16. Keeping my tree one second past December 26th. If my family won’t help me, I will throw it out the front door and have a driveway bonfire. I am not even kidding a little bit.
  17. Missing a second to play Christmas music. It’s all Apple Music Essential Christmas from now till 2020.
  18. Forgetting to take a picture of any of our eight crazy Hanukah nights. Those earnest faces! Those dripping candles in my grandma’s choo-choo train menorah! The Christmas tree/Hanukah light mashup. I love it all so much.
  19. Ignoring the perfection of my 6-year-old’s misspelled Christmas list. She scoured the American Girl catalog eleventy billion times, and she still wants “Joolee’s bafroom.” (Which, I mean, she is not getting because what doll without an excretory system needs a $200 bathroom?) (Also, it’s sold out until May, so, apparently, a lot of them?)
  20. Failing to appreciate the magic of a couple more holidays with little kids who want toys. Once they hit tweendom, it’s all screens, robots, and expensive shoes.
  21. Abstaining from a Christmas-Eve-eve sugar cookie binge. Santa’s fat self will be lucky if there’s a single crumb left for his plate.
  22. Letting anyone in my family beat me in our gingerbread house competition. It’s high-stakes you guys.  Like a really fattening part-time job.
  23. Skipping date nights. Sure we’re hemorrhaging money, but the holidays—even these happy golden ones with little kids—are stressful. My husband and I need time to connect as a couple and remember why we are supposed to be so holly jolly in the first place.
  24. Taking one twinkle-lit moment of this season of magic for granted. None of us is guaranteed tomorrow, which sounds really grim but actually? Gives us permission to be our best selves.

Given the nature of this list, it probably goes without saying, but there’s one more bonus thing I am not going to do this holiday season, and that’s feel guilty about the intentional way I spend my time with, as the song goes, those who are dear to me gathered near to me once more. And you know what? I don’t think you should, either.

No one knows this better than moms, but we only have so many hours in the day. Every time we say yes to one holiday task/celebration/tradition/event, we are simultaneously saying no to something else we could be doing instead. Be mindful of how you spend your time this month, and be as deliberate about your no’s as you are generous with your yes’s,

Happy holidays, mamas, however you spend them.

Sarah Jedd has a Ph.D. in communication arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches and studies the rhetoric of Planned Parenthood. Sarah has 5 (F I V E) children: teens Harry and Jack, elementary schoolers Cooper and Dorothy, and sweet baby Minnie, born in August 2020. Sarah blogs about being a mom of many at and overshares on IG as @sarahjedd. Sarah, her husband, and their kids live in Verona with the world's laziest dog.


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