• Aimee Spencer Tiemann


It’s time for you to steer your own holiday sleigh

Happy New Year. Happy New Decade. Happy New Day.

This past month was a doozy. I realized I turned into a real-life Grinch McScrooge.

If I saw one more happy ending on Hallmark, witnessed another bake off, or listened to any more of the thousands of remakes of Mariah Carey’s, “All I Want For Christmas,” I was about to move wherever Christmas isn’t.

Dramatic, I know.

I used to love decorating the house, buying and wrapping gifts, and listening to Christmas carols. But this year, it just became so OVERWHELMING!

I don’t know exactly when my attitude took such a drastic turn. The last three weeks I shut it all off and dug deep.

Was it that most of my relatives have passed on? Possibly, but most have been gone for a while.

Was it the fact that this year was just wretched, and I didn’t feel like I had anything to celebrate? Potentially, but how should that affect my feelings towards the holidays? I mean, it’s just two days.

Was it the fact there were new players in my life around the holidays and they were “different,” than in years past? After all, change is never comfortable.

Nope, that can’t be it. I love having my godson and my husband present.

Finally, I shut down my cell phone outside of work hours. I turned off the holiday tunes. I didn’t watch the Christmas classics, and I didn’t get lost in the hustle and bustle of anxious holiday shopping.

It made me realize something - Christmas has become a corporate overdose of cheer in the midst of real life.

That’s right, instead of enjoying the simplicity of what my holidays once were and the true meaning behind Christmas, I had fallen victim to the guilt and shame brought on by marketers. It’s the guilt of not getting to see all the family and friends, the shame of not being able to afford all of the hottest presents, and well, the sadness of what no longer exists in your life, or shall I say who no longer is around anymore.


For years I produced major events throughout the holidays, so I didn’t have the time to get caught in the hullabaloo of JOY and PEACE ON EARTH. For years, I was a good solider, and followed the format forced on me.

This year, I didn’t do any of these things!


I went to my traditional church service on Christmas Eve, a service I only missed once in the last 45 years. My pastor, Randy Boelter, a man I adore, said it all on Christmas Eve.

Rather than putting a complete focus on rejoicing about the birth of Christ, he reminded us of the loneliness and sadness the holidays can evoke. To paraphrase his sermon, he reminded us why the power of human connection will always outweigh the sparkly paper and bow under the tree.


I decided not to rush from house to house on Christmas to make sure I checked everyone off my list. Instead, I made plans with the people I love the most to meet after the holidays and have our own special outing.

I didn’t over-indulge in sugar and empty calories. I enjoyed in moderation and delight. In fact, my cousin Lisa, a Weight Watchers member, taught me all of these new recipes that completely outweighed (pun intended) the carb-stuffed Christmases of the past.

I took up a new hobby, cross stitching, and sat alone with my thoughts and feelings rather than pretending outwardly that the holidays are “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

I actually enjoyed my family time.

Looking at Christmas through the eyes of my young godson, Connor, was the best present of all. He didn’t care about the gifts under the tree, the sparkly wrapping paper and bows.

No, he was so upset when he had to go to bed because he was afraid he would miss out on time with family that loves him more than anything. Watching his reaction to different cupcakes and flavors, cuddling up to his Grammy, and his true reaction of joy to the festivities around him was the best present I’ve experienced on a holiday.


Traditions are great, but sometimes you just outgrow them, or the players change.

Guess what I learned this year? That’s OK. It’s life.

It’s not about the things and the fake belief of the holiday hype, it truly is the people around you, and more importantly, the way you feel. Going with the flow – great concept, but so hard to digest.

I’m not making plans for the Christmas holiday anymore. I’m just going with how I’m feeling.

If I would’ve driven around God’s green earth to please everyone, had that fake smile on my face to keep the holiday cheer alive, and bought into the hype, I would’ve really missed out on Christmas this year.