Gifts. Lists. Wrapping. Make sure not to forget anyone.
Lights. Trees. Tinsel. Trimming.
Events. Events to go to, events to turn down.
People to make nice with.
I think it was two years ago that the Hubby and I have decided not to be slaves to tradition. Oh, we're not going in the Ebenezer Scrooge direction -- we just agreed it would be wise not to blow several thousand bucks buying gifts for insignificant people and decking the house with kitschy decor.
Instead of scrambling for cheap stuff for a long list of friends colleagues neighbors volunteers donors sponsors pastors disciples helpers group-members workers parents-of-workers people-to-thank people-to-impress and so on, we'll simply be buying good-quality gifts for immediate family. If we have enough, the Hubby and I might even treat ourselves to a vacation. The Holidays would be less stressful and more meaningful that way.
The first time we did this, I felt a kind of bite on my pride whenever I had to greet Christmas-wishers who might've expected gifts (It probably will still sting a bit this year, but I think I've more or less gotten used to it). But the money saved and the freedom from stress is absolutely rewarding.
We could feel guilty for not handing out tangible, giftwrapped tokens to (hopefully) convey our thoughtfulness at a season of giving.
We could be afraid of being thought of as Scroogy or stingy.
We could spread ourselves too thin over people we "should" please or events we "should" attend.
Or we could choose to simplify our lives at this already complicated season - just stick to what really matters instead of just going along with social convention.
Personally I'd rather not give in to the overspending, people-pleasing, materialism and fatigue. If Christmas is supposed to be about love, joy, sharing, giving, and spiritually enlightening things, it would be nice not to contaminate it with worldly values.