By Anne Badanes, The Pajama Company Holiday Editor
How did the holiday that promises peace on earth become a month of stress? We all know the reasons; we can look at our to-do list and see all the things that we must do. We feel the expectations that others have and we beat ourselves up with the expectations that we put upon ourselves. Many women feel they must be the magicians behind the “magic of this holiday”. We tend to forget that we are human.
For years I taught a seminar to help women avoid the stress of Christmas. It offered practical steps in dealing with those tough holiday issues whether it was extended family, budget worries, an overbooked calendar, or the unspoken “rules” of gift giving. In the seminar, the women evaluated their behaviors and expectations. Then they made hard changes that helped bring sanity and yes, even peace into December.
Here is the bad news. The seminar was held in September. That was early enough in the year for people to make the necessary changes such as telling mom that they wouldn’t be driving to Boise this year….or that they had a $10 limit for nephew’s gifts…or that they would not be in charge of a cookie exchange.
The countdown is here and it seems that everyone knows how many days until Christmas. With a bit of panic in their voices, my friends will say “Yikes only 13 more days until Christmas and I haven’t……..” and then they spew out a list of impossible tasks. I want to tell them there is no way they can get all that done in a month.
Instead of counting days until Christmas, I concentrate on a few principles to keep it SIMPLE. These thoughts are nothing new, I’ve gathered them from psychologists and authors who write about holiday stress. Through the years I’ve adjusted them for me.
- I’ll think of my home as a place to relax and enjoy being with people, not a place for a photo shoot for Better Homes and Garden (pick the magazine) Or for a museum.
- I’ll not compare myself to others when they start bragging about all they’ve done/bought/ planned for the holidays. Instead I will think of what is important to me.
- Instead of racing to the malls or downtown, I will shop from home. It will save me money in the long run.
- I’ll show others that I appreciate them using words not expensive gifts.
- When possible, I’ll appreciate the winter solstice right when it gets dark, light a few candles and think about the meaning of the holiday.