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You hear a lot of talk about stress during this time of year. Personally, I htink one of the main problems is that we try to do too much. We think we have to buy happiness for everyone we love – somehow we get the mindset that if we don’t give them x number of presents, their Christmas will not be a happy one.
The thing is, that for most of us, December doesn’t cough up any more money than March, August, January, October, November or any of the others. So, finding money to “buy Christmas” is danged near impossible. Add to that the fact that there’s the cost of extra baking, decorating, gas (since the car’s seldom ever still), etc. It’s a wonder we aren’t all in debt the rest of the year.
Below are a few ideas to help out with different Holiday “Stress Carriers”:
1. You don’t have to buy Christmas for anyone. Christmas is a beautiful celebration of the most spectacular and beautiful miracle ever. It should be a time of love, peace, and joy. Yes, we’ve made the tradition one of gift-giving, ham, trees, ornaments, lights, egg nog and carols. And no, I wouldn’t want any of these things to go away, even if they could. (Okay, maybe I wouldn’t miss egg nog…)
You can handle the stress of Christmas spending in several different ways. Some families draw names for gift-giving. Others strictly say, “No gifts,” or “No gifts more than $10…” I think it’s probably a good thing to have certain limits, in most situations. It keeps people from being embarassed if they weren’t able to give as much as others did. Just remember: When you aren’t able to give as much as others, the others honestly don’t mind! I’ve been on both sides of the present and can honestly say that when you don’t have much to give, you’re the only one bothered by it. Everyone else just wants to be able to give and see you have a great time.
It feels good to give…and this is one of the times set aside for doing just that. So, if someone gives more to you than you’re able to give to them – they wanted to because it makes them happy, so just enjoy it!
2. Don’t Let Family Blues Make Your Christmas Blue. If you’re lucky enough to have a large family, you know how you can feel pulled in a hundred different directions during the holidays. Everyone wants you at their house for Christmas, and while it’s great to be wanted, sometimes it’s little more than stress waiting to blow up.
When we were first married, our mothers were both so unbelievably sweet about it. Each waited for the other to decide when she wanted to have her “Christmas” meal before stating when her own meal would be. Each would defer to the other so often it’s a wonder they ever had a meal at all! There was never any nastiness, ugliness, or anything remotely like that because of these two sweet little women. Neither had a selfish bone in her body, neither was petty, and each knew the true meaning of Christmas and family.
They’re both in Heaven now, and I hope they know how much they’re missed – but even more, I hope they know how grateful I am. My husband and I never had the family stress that a lot of young couples do. A great deal of that is because our mothers were completely mature and had a knack of thinking of others long before they thought of themselves. That, and of course the fact that I was perfect, kept the newlyweds happy.
My advice would be for everyone to do as these ladies did – put others first, yourself second. Putting yourself in someone else’s place will often give you the insight and understanding you need.
3. Relax! Yes, things are busy – and yes, they’re chaotic – but make time to sit and drink a warm cup of coffee, tea, or cocoa. Watch the lights on the Christmas tree. Turn on Emeril Live and let him amuse and educate. Watch a Holiday classic. Go to the movies – I hear “Pursuit of Happyness” is as good as you could hope for.
Also, as an animal lover and pet owner, I want to remind you – we get uncommonly busy this time of year. But don’t forget your special “babies” – they still need as much attention as ever, maybe even more because all the commotion can be overwhelming for them. Extra playing, petting, and “babytalk” will go a long way in reassuring them! Besides, I can’t think of a better way to relax and unwind.
I’m truly sorry that this was such a long post – I aim for short and sweet (oh, now, don’t roll your eyes…I swear I do!)…but sometimes short just doesn’t measure up.
Make each moment count double,’