What to do if you don't like Christmas by Project Me for Busy Mothers

What To Do If You Don’t Like Christmas

I’ve had way too many unhappy Decembers when my kids were small. It got to the point that I began to dread the holiday season. And then I got myself even more wound up because my friends LOVED Christmas and I felt even worse that I didn’t.

 And I would tell everyone I met the same story:

 ‘I’ve had to host Christmas for my in-laws every year since I got married. His parents come to stay for the entire holiday period and his sister and her husband get to come and go. My kitchen is completely taken over by my MILs boxes of kitchen gadgets, knives and cookbooks and I’m in charge of food shopping from her list. The whole thing revolves around cooking, eating and clearing up and no-one ever wants to play games or do anything fun together. The men just eat and go off and watch what they want on TV or have a snooze. I have a baby (and then later another baby and a toddler) and I’m supposed to do this every year because nobody else has a house big enough. I never see my own family on Christmas because it’s only my mother and she doesn’t want to come over and be a part of the madness…’

This was the story I told to anyone who’d listen. If my hairdresser innocently asked,  ‘What have you got planned for the holidays?”, I’d launch into it all. 

I’d get SO jealous of friends who went to see his parents on Christmas Eve and her parents on Christmas day and had the rest of the time to themselves to relax and hang with their kids.  I deeply missed my pre-marriage tradition of travelling to warm places, smugly sipping cocktails on the beach whilst escaping the holiday madness. 

Because I now begrudged Christmas, I procrastinated on decorating the house and didn’t do any holiday baking with the kids. I detested the mad consumerism, crazy shopping crowds, searching to find the right presents and then having to wrap them all. I dreaded writing out Christmas cards and queueing at the post office. It got worse every year.

Then one year, as I was getting more into my personal growth, I’d read some books by Deepak Chopra and The Dalai Lama and started learning about how my thoughts create my reality. I had just started my Project Me (only for myself at that point) and I was becoming more proactive about my happiness.

I made a decision to not tell anyone my usual story that December. So when my hairdresser asked about my holiday plans I kept it short and positive. And when friends asked if I was bracing myself for the invasion of the in-laws,  I’d simply tell them I was planning to make the best of it this year and focus on the good.

On Christmas Day I decided to be like the men in our family and I stayed out of the kitchen and let my MIL and SIL take over. By then my SIL had two little ones so I just took charge of all of the kids so they could cook in peace while I put batteries into new toys, read assembly instructions and stayed away from the kitchen madness that always stressed me out.

And I was nice and I smiled. And when my buttons did get pushed, I went to a quiet room and breathed through it instead of reacting.

That year, when my MIL was leaving after the holidays, she gave me the biggest, warmest hug EVER and said it was the best Christmas! After she left I had a little cry when I imagined what I must have been like ALL of those previous Christmas’s. I must have been such hard work! Begrudging, resentful and miserable. It really hit me that it was never them, it was ME. In fact it’s never the other person, it’s always how we choose to interpret and react. Over the years I’d built up this hugely exaggerated story around the holiday season.

And from then on I found my strength to kindly but firmly do things the way I wanted to do them. I set some boundaries. I gave myself permission to shut myself in my room to relax on my own without worrying I was being antisocial. I simplified things and let go of perfection. I stopped begrudging my in-laws for not playing games on Christmas and I instigated them myself. I looked for all that there is to feel grateful for. And there was a lot.  I’m not going to lie. I still don’t LOVE Christmas and it’s not something I look forward to with joyful glee, but I stopped telling that whole damn story and I’m so much happier without it.

WHAT STORIES ARE YOU TELLING YOURSELF AND MAYBE OTHERS ABOUT HOW THE HOLIDAY SEASON IS FOR YOU? Could you re-tell the story with a more positive slant? How can you take responsibility for your own happiness and stop blaming others? Share in the comments below. I’ll be personally reading and replying to them all.

Every year I send out this My Dream December 2-page worksheet to my lovely newsletter subscribers and every year I get so many heart-felt thank you’s. This tool helps you to identify what really matters to you over the holiday season. It’s my free gift to you!

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  1. Sky on December 18, 2017 at 6:18 PM

    It is such a relief to find that I am not the only one who does not like this time of the year. So busy and stressful. I liked reading about how you have learned to reframe it and look for the good things. I am going to try this too. Wish me luck please!

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on December 19, 2017 at 9:22 AM

      I used to think I was the only one too Sky, until I began opening up about it and discovered so many people don’t like the holiday season for a whole host of reasons. We are labelled as Scrooges by those who can’t comprehend why we don’t love it the way they do. It really does help to reframe and look for the good. Your thoughts create your reality! Wishing you great success – Happy Holidays! x

    • Jayne Flood on December 24, 2020 at 6:58 AM

      Great article. I thought you were going to sympathize but she actually found the solution herself.
      I found Christmas getting more and more hectic which steals the joy. I just pared back and kept it simple. I still enjoy family time but I am not afraid to opt out of things I don’t enjoy.

  2. Debbie on December 18, 2017 at 6:22 PM

    I’ve loved your seasonal sanity saving tips over the years and they’ve helped me in so many ways to let go of perfection, not be so sensitive, keep things more simple and stay positive. I enjoyed this one too and will give myself permission to have some alone time without worrying about what others may think about that. Thank you so much and Merry Christmas to you and your family! xx

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on December 19, 2017 at 9:25 AM

      I’m so happy to hear this Debbie! Yes, grab those pockets of alone time to recharge so you can re-enter the fold feeling fresh. I highly recommend the Insight Timer meditation app for a wide variety of short breathing exercises and positive affirmations. http://myprojectme.com/insight-timer-meditations/

      Merry Christmas to you and your family too! 🙂

  3. Louisa on December 19, 2017 at 11:25 AM

    Awww. I know this post wasn’t meant to be a tear-jerker, but I burst into tears when I read about your MIL’s reaction at the end of your first positive Christmas! What a beautiful moment! I’m generally pretty lucky with how my Christmases tend to pan out, but they’ve definitely got better in the last few years as I get to know myself better and what makes me happy. (Project Me has been a huge part in that, especially in terms of planning to do activities that I love instead of just doing whatever comes up.) Like you, I detest all the consumerism, the stress and obligations that come at this time of the year but, over the past few years, also like you, I’ve learned to focus on the positives -and there are many- and somehow it all just gets better and better! (LOA, of course…) Oh, and alone time is sooo important at this time of year. We need to grab it whenever we can! Have a fabulous Christmas, dear Kelly, and an even better 2018! X

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on December 19, 2017 at 8:32 PM

      I love every word of what you’ve said Louisa. Thank you. All the best to you for the holidays and beyond!!! xx

  4. Robin on December 19, 2017 at 11:46 AM

    Thank you for sharing this! I’ve felt so guilty over the years. I know my kids picked up on my negative vibe. I SO want to rejoice in the birth of Christ instead of buying gifts out of obligation. I want to be in the moment filled with joy. It’s setting boundaries and expectations like you said. Thanks again for the article! Merry Christmas ????

  5. Catherine on November 25, 2019 at 4:37 PM

    I want to reframe my Christmas story but I don’t know how. My Dad died 26 years ago on Dec 17th. Every year I think, right this year I will get in the spirit early and get things done so that when the anniversary comes around I will be prepared. But every year when December hits I feel crippled and I don’t want to do anything christmassy until after that day. Then it’s a mad stressful dash to get everything done in time and I hate it. I’m going to try the ‘My Dream December’ worksheet and see if that helps me change things.

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on November 27, 2019 at 10:33 AM

      I’m so sorry to hear this Catherine and I do hope the My Dream December sheet will help. Have you ever tried EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)? Having a 1:1 session could be just what you need to break those crippling emotions. It will not lesson your love for your dad, but will release what is no longer serving you. I have a great recommendation if you would like her details. Sending love! xxx

  6. Jenny Stokes on December 3, 2020 at 8:29 PM

    Usually, I will tell anyone who will listen how much I hate Christmas. I say it’s too commercialized, too stressful, and overwhelming, I have to do so much and make it perfect. Everyone I know calls me the Grinch and I get worse every year. After a breakdown last year I discovered project me and I’ve implemented a lot of changes in my life, mainly choosing to see positivity and being grateful, and it’s working! I wanted this Christmas to be different but didn’t know where to start. Then like a sign from above, I received the email with the December action sheet. I did it straight away and already felt lighter. This post of your blog really struck me, I can relate to all of it, and you’re so right it’s not them it’s me and only I can do something about it.

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on December 23, 2020 at 11:37 AM

      Thank you for making my day (month?!) Jenny with your message here. I’ll love to hear how your holidays go this year with a change of heart and mind. Merry Christmas! ❤️

  7. Santa Claus on September 21, 2022 at 7:42 PM


    I do…

  8. Santa Claus on September 21, 2022 at 7:47 PM

    Do you like Christmas? I do

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