I have always adored Christmas. As a father, very few things compare. And last year, I made a discovery that increased my joy tenfold. So here, having renewed my tradition and found it just as amazing, I’ll share it with you.
If you want joy, you don’t have to do anything to create joy. You have to aggressively and relentlessly eliminate bullshit. I can almost guarantee that your holiday traditions, if you have them, have at least several hours of stressful work that you don’t want to do. Everyone loves different things and hates different things, but we all feel compelled to do all of it. We feel compelled – by tradition, by social influence, by our families, whatever – to go through every last motion, no matter what it is.
If you love Christmas music but hate wrapping presents, don’t wrap presents. If you love wrapping presents but hate cooking the big feast, don’t cook the big feast. If you love cooking the big feast but hate running around to ten different houses… you get it.
We’ve gradually added so many bells and whistles to this holiday that we get caught up in thinking that the magic only exists if we carefully adhere to this combination of rituals. It isn’t so! The magic is far more durable than that.
Starting last year, I didn’t do any of it. I didn’t wrap presents. I didn’t hang lights. My kids decorated the tree because they wanted to, and I enjoyed it. But here’s the thing that makes it all essential: whatever time you save by skipping all that bullshit?
In that time, you must let joy flourish.
I skipped all that stuff, and here’s what I did instead: I piled my kids into the car, put on all my favorite Christmas songs (and their favorites, too!), and drove around looking at all the pretty lights. I drank hot cocoa and sang with my kids. I made merry.
You can do that too, and you can do it without needing to take some sort of stand against whatever it is you don’t do. Other people wrapped presents, and I love it! Other people put up lights, and I drove around looking at them! Other people made their merry in whatever way they wanted. I don’t at all think they shouldn’t have – unless, of course, they didn’t want to.
This is a celebration. Joy should abound. If it isn’t – what, exactly, are you doing? Who do you think cares about your toil?
God rest ye. And rest well – never tire of your joy.