The holiday season can be a stressful time for many people. I have an 11-year-old son and I can tell you that his gift list, and those of his schoolmates, is daunting indeed. At the top of every list this year is all the “smart” technology, from phones to TV’s to Tablets, with a not so smart price tag. The media would have our kids think they are outside the norm if they do not have all these expensive gadgets, and many times parents are pressured into buying things they just cannot afford. This creates stress. On the other hand if we do not buy these things we believe our kids will be unhappy and this can also be stressful.
Another anxiety provoking holiday tradition is the trip to visit extended family. Many people take advantage of time off work and school to visit family. While it is nice to see our relatives, it can also be difficult to mesh different attitudes about child rearing, traditions and even religious beliefs. While family movie networks abound with warm fuzzy images about holidays and family, it seems this seldom relates to the average family. And then there are those who do not have family to visit. The newly divorced, or aged folks can feel very alone at this time of year.
As if that weren’t stressful enough, we over-extend ourselves in our social obligations. We try to attend every holiday party, social event and family gathering, overeating and sometimes drinking too much in the process.
What is the answer to all this stress? Here are a few ideas about how to simplify the holidays and hopefully make things a little less stressful.
- Forgo all the expensive gifts and opt for a “homemade” Christmas. Everyone is good at making something, whether it is woodworking, knitting, or just putting together a list of family recipes or a photo album. These kinds of gifts can become cherished family heirlooms. Families with small children may particularly enjoy this approach, especially getting the kids involved in making the gifts.
- Forget all the elaborate holiday decorating and just display some fresh cut greenery in your favorite vase. How about a small living tabletop tree that can be planted outdoors after the season is over. Sometimes less is more.
- Instead of trying to attend every single holiday party why not plan a weekend outing with kids to view Christmas lights, go to the zoo or to a museum? Or even just plan a family night to stay at home and play games or watch a movie.
- Remember the less fortunate during the season. Volunteer for a food drive for the needy or support our troops by helping military families who may be far away from family at this time of year. If you are alone, this is a good way to get involved in the community. For families, helping children to realize that there are others who do not have all the advantages, may allow them to appreciate how blessed they are.
- Finally, if you think that trip to Grandma’s house may cause too much stress and anxiety, just say no. Instead, perhaps arrange a visit at a less hectic time of year, or visits with individual family members versus a large family gathering.
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