We’ve all heard the old song. If you were an elementary school in the nineties, you probably sang it in music class.

Christmas carolers have belted out the cumulative lyrics of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” for years.

An Old, Old Mistake

What’s interesting to me is that for all the years I’ve sang this song, I’ve had the lyrics wrong…and I imagine you have too!

In the year of 1780 it was published in a children’s book called Mirth With-out Mischief most likely as a memory-and-forfeit game. These games were very popular among young English children. They’d gather in the schoolyard and sing the lyrics, each singing all the lines before and adding the next. If any child forgot the lyrics or the order, they’d owe a ‘forfeit’ to the other children. This could be a kiss or a candy.

The irony is we’ve all forgotten the lyrics! Instead of “four calling birds” the original lyrics read “four colly birds”.

Can We Stop Singing Songs that Have No Point?

“The Twelve Days of Christmas” make a great example of all the things we do during the holidays that make little sense. Every year we continue a cycle of traditions that belong to someone else.

Whether it’s putting up a tree, setting out milk and cookies, traveling the neighborhood to look for Christmas lights. No matter what you’re doing this holiday season, make sure you know why you do it. Make sure you enjoy it.

I’m not saying to stop your favorite holiday traditions. Not at all! I love Christmas cookies and movies. I love the Grinch and Christmas lights. My family does all the things.

What I encourage you to do this holiday season is to assess your stress. Look at your calendar. Review your budget.

If there are any holiday traditions that make little sense to you, only cause you stress, and cost you money, then stop those things.

I don’t have to tell you what they are. I know mine and you probably know yours.

What Can You do Instead?

Instead of doing something you don’t enjoy this season simply because you’ve always done it, let’s try to do something new–something exciting and fulfilling.

Instead of spending a fortune on presents you’re not sure someone will like, why don’t you make a gesture that they’ll remember?

Instead of decorating the house–which usually requires time, money, and some measure of cleaning–why not start a tradition of inviting friends over to help?

Instead of singing carols that have no personal meaning to you and your family, why don’t you make up songs instead?

When you list and consider your holiday stressors, you may realize that some aren’t worth it. If you have a conversation with your family, you may realize that your kids don’t care whether or not you have a turkey for Christmas dinner. Maybe they want to eat nachos at a movie theater instead.

If you ask your children what they’d prefer, they may want the whole family to play video games together instead of watching the same old Christmas movie.

Which tradition will they remember?

I’m always looking for more ways to add fulfillment to our family events. Christmas is a time of stress and cost, commercialism and a great deal of brain-washing on the part of the media.

You can take control of Christmas this year by making it exactly what your family wants.

How freeing!