Not to brag, but I’m in a good place. I’ve finished my holiday mini-breakdown and survived the stress of more-things-to-do-than-there-is-time for another year. Of course, I got an early start. I was already agonizing about gifts in September, so I’ve had plenty of time to work through the pressure and guilt of wanting to make the perfect holiday for my family.
Why do we put ourselves through this anyway? Why is every holiday a competition, either with family and friends, or ourselves, to see how we can improve upon gifts, decorations, food, or numbers of obligations over what we accomplished last year? And have we really lost sight of the real meaning of the holidays, in our overwhelming commercialism?
Some of us, and I have been guilty of this myself; stress ourselves out too badly to actually enjoy the season. If you’re not one of those lucky individuals who seem to thrive on stress, I say it’s time to give yourself a break.
It’s time to step back, take a deep breathe, or several, and think about what is truly important. What is actually necessary to make our holidays meaningful, and what can we simply let go? Prioritize. Do your kids always ask to make a gingerbread house with you but you can never seem to find the time? What other activity could you let go to make their wish happen? Kids grow up too quickly; it won’t be cool to decorate cookies with you forever.
Find ways to “cheat” on holiday chores you don’t enjoy, or that don’t have as much meaning for you. Consider holding or attending one less function, or not making every food item from scratch. It’s perfectly okay to use mixes, or order food from the deli or a restaurant if it eases some of the burden we put upon ourselves so we can actually enjoy our holiday parties.
Take time to do the things you love, with the people you love, and consider what is actually meaningful to you. Do you have a favorite Christmas movie? Why not plan a Christmas theme movie night? It’s just the thing to help you unwind after a long day of work, shopping, and dealing with traffic and holiday crowds.
Above all, take the time to breathe, relax, and remember the true meaning of the holidays-the spirit of love and generosity, the quality time to spend with loved ones, the joy and camaraderie to share with family and strangers alike. This is the time of year “when we all act a little nicer, we, we, we smile a little easier, we, w-w-we, we, we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be!” (Frank Cross in Scrooged, 1988).
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!