Dec 18

A Blue Christmas

Christmas time is here as well as the usual uptick in activity. The flurry of parties and shopping bags in preparation never bothered me as a child, yet as I get older I understand why adults always said it can be stressful.

A quick perusal of magazines or the Internet has turned up five separate articles dedicated to “beating the holiday blues.” Suggestions like, “make time for you” or “go for a walk” seem like poor offerings of comfort. How did a time marked by words such as cheer, jolly and merry turn into the fodder for holiday blues?

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a house that embraced Christmas. Tearing gift wrapping from packages, heaps of Christmas cookies and crackling fires as my older relatives doted on the youngest family members – these were some of my happiest childhood memories. Each Christmas, after the whirlwind of activity had slowed and dishes were piled by the sink, my grandma would make her way to the piano and my family would gather around to sing Christmas carols.

This long-standing tradition of music-making has been in my family for generations. We’ve been blessed with several symphony-quality performers, and the tradition has taken on a life of its own.

When singing the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” the newest in-law is forced to sing “five gold rings” solo, bringing to bear my family’s strident belief in hazing newcomers. “Silent Night” is beautifully harmonized by my Dad and Aunt, while only my Grandma knows the words to “Christmas in Killarnery,” yet she insists on playing it every year.

The consistent simplicity of this tradition is magic to me; a candlelit, off-tune sing-a-long with the people I love the most is my idea of perfection. Each year I realize that as much fun as the presents and parties are; it’s the simple, paired-back moments that make this time so special.

This year, despite the constant message that more is more, my goal is to simplify and minimize the clutter, clearing plenty of room for what’s important.

Much like the seasonal barrage of maximalist expectations, many of our clients can be overwhelmed by the constant call to do everything: be on every social media platform, make the news twice a month and have a perfect community outreach program.

And yes, the flurry and excitement of activity and deadlines can be exciting at first. However, more often than not it leads to exhaustion and the communication blues set in. “Why is my 12-pronged marketing approach not working?” they wonder.

Much like Christmas, the truly impactful parts of communication are simple. It’s easy to get distracted by the latest Snapchat update or the industry competitor with a bigger advertising budget, but it’s important to remember that the enduring aspects are the simple stories that make up your business or organization.

As we head into Christmas, I invite you to join me in simplifying your goals and expectations—clearing space for what’s most, leaving behind the Christmas blues and discovering where the lasting stories lie.

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