By Rachel Hill

Hallmark has RUINED us! Yes, I’m saying it here and now.

Now, while I love a cheesy holiday movie just as much as the next person, I can also admit to the pressure it creates for us all to produce (and I do mean produce … elaborate holiday light displays … the perfectly decorated tree …) this magical holiday experience for our family and friends.

So how do we stop this trend of creating the perfect holiday experience and just be present? Because after all, the presence of those we love around us is all that really matters. Yup, I went there … I told you I love cheesiness!

A Quick Story

A few years ago during the holiday season, my husband, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and I all headed to downtown Pittsburgh to experience it decorated for the holidays. When we arrived, we were met with beautifully adorned buildings with wreaths and lights with a light dusting of snow on them. It truly was magical. To top it off, when we arrived at the ice-skating rink at PPG Place, there was a huge Christmas tree in the center. The line, which normally spans blocks, was actually short enough to be bearable!

We rented our skates and hit the rink! Some of us fell on our butts and got covered in snow! Our group certainly got a good laugh out of this. After returning our skates we stumbled upon this quiet dive bar and sipped on bourbon before calling it a night.

Chasing a Holiday High

I must admit that I spent the next couple of years trying to create that same experience, without the same results. Schedules didn’t align, lines were long, the bar we had gone to ended up closing. Like any kind of addiction, I was chasing the high of holiday cheer. Trying to recreate the magic that wasn’t possible to recreate! This was a hard lesson to learn.

Withdrawal …

I had to learn to let go. Once I stopped trying to “make magic” during the holiday season, the magic happened more organically. What was a foursome became a twosome of just my husband and myself. A dive bar turned into a ramen bar, and my husband and I now have created new traditions for our little family — like trying to capture our animals in a disastrous Christmas card photo every year. 

What I’ve Learned …

You can’t create magical moments. … They just happen! It’s freeing to let go of expectations around the holidays and just enjoy.

This is a rare time of year to take an opportunity to slow down, reflect and spend time with those you love. And hopefully, that includes yourself!

I encourage all of you reading this to take some time this holiday season to show yourself some love! I don’t mean buying yourself something, but rather just sitting down in the quiet and thinking about what you value, what you can let go of, and what could help you become a better version of yourself in the upcoming year!

Happy holidays, and wishing you so much love and joy this holiday season!