For many of us the “holiday season” starts with Halloween. This is when we all dress up and pretend to be something we’re not (which is pretty much like going to work every day).
Then comes Thanksgiving which is a great excuse to overeat and lay around watching the tube. What separates this from every other day of the year is the addition of gratitude (and sweet potato casserole).
After that, it’s only a matter of time before we hear Andy Williams croon, “It’s the most WONDERFUL tiiiiiiime of the yeeeeear!” Substitute “wonderful” with “stressful” and you get a little closer to what most of will experience at the holidays. But does it have to be that way? Do we have a choice as to whether we are going to enjoy and embrace the holidays or simply “get through” them?
This time of year is not just about gifts and shopping. Add in the parties, festivities, card-writing, planning, scheduling, dinners, services, programs, gatherings, sing-alongs, visitors and travel and you’ve got the perfect recipe for Holiday Stress Pie. And, with all of the blended families and in-laws, it’s easier to decipher the da Vinci code than to work out who is going to be with whom on what day. It takes an engineer and three quantum physicists just to work out the meal times.
So what can we do to minimize our holiday stress? I’m glad you asked!
Keep our sense of humor
- Start fun traditions.
It’s been an annual tradition for me to claim that I received a “special request” to sing “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” in Carol Channing’s voice. When I launch into this screechfest, they all clear the room and I get to control the remote. Everyone wins.
- Enjoy running jokes.
One year, my sister got my dad a tie rack. She noticed it went straight to the floor of his closet, unused all year. So she re-wrapped it and gave it to him again the following Christmas. Dad was just as surprised and thrilled with his tie rack as he had been the year before. Again it went to the floor of the closet and—you guessed it—he got it a third year. He finally realized that a pattern had begun to form and that his gift was vaguely familiar.
Eliminate what doesn’t really matter
- There was a year that I just didn’t get around to sending out Christmas cards and you know what? I lived another day. Shocking, I know! The worst that can happen for the Failure to Send Cards is that people will take you off their list. Look on the bright side! That’s less cards you have to send next year! If you’re lucky, the only people left on your list will be your banker and insurance agent. And they don’t expect a card in return. Your money is enough!
- Do away with anything that feels like a drag. If you truly hate sending out cards, don’t do it! Or find a way to make it fun. One year, I was so proud of my bone density scan that I enclosed it with my cards. (I admit, I didn’t have a lot going on that year.)
- Whatever you do, don’t let others decide what matters for If someone’s world comes crashing to an end because you didn’t get time to make your famous homemade “Hominy-Fruitcake-Popcorn-Garlic Goulash,” then they’ve lived a pretty charmed life. A little rain must fall. People can sling all the guilt they want, but it only sticks if we let it. Don’t let it!
- Yes men, this means YOU, too. I’m not saying all men wait until Christmas Eve to even begin their shopping but if you’ve ever been out on that day, the ratio of men to women is about 500 to one. But, for you single ladies who think this would be a great way to meet men, IT’S NOT! The men are usually “taken,” panicked and in a bad mood. Best to avoid them at all cost!
- When it comes to your holiday baking, pace yourself. Do a little at a time and freeze the baked goods. Or just hold out until a few days before Christmas. People are so sick of their own goodies by then that anonymous plates will begin showing up on your doorstep.
- Make lists, but don’t panic if you don’t get to everything on them. Prioritize and then let go of unfinished tasks when the stress starts creeping in.
- Delegate! Oh, I know that no one can wrap gifts (or stick them in gift bags) as well as you can, but bite the bullet and let others help. Better yet, demand that they help. (Yes, you heard me: demand!) If that is too strong of a word, then command.
In the end, people won’t remember the little details, but rather how they felt. Be warm and relaxed as opposed to uptight and stressed to make the holidays joyful for yourself and all you touch. It really IS the most WONDERFUL tiiiiiiime of the yeeeeear, so relax and enjoy it!