It’s Tuesday December 11, 2018. Is it just me, or are you already feeling the pressure of the holiday season as well?
Every year I imagine a blissfully peaceful Christmas filled with days of sipping cocoa by the fire with my family gathered around telling stories, playing games, listening to soft music, and basking in the joy of togetherness. Like the above photo, I am sure my home will be the epitome of style and serenity. It will be decorated like a Martha Stewart magazine. Friends will come caroling, and I will have homemade baked goods and small gifts at the ready to share with them.
Are you laughing yet? Needless to say, this scenario has never happened, nor do I ever expect it to happen. Even though the above description is completely unrealistic, you’ve got to admit that we still sometimes expect way too much from ourselves during this “most wonderful” but also most stressful time of the year.
We’ve probably all read articles about being less stressed during the holidays. The recommendations are usually spot on. I’ve tried many of them with varied amounts of success. I’m not going to repeat those lists. I just want to emphasize one that I believe has the potential for a big impact.
I believe that our efforts to make the holidays as meaningful and enjoyable as humanly possible wind up having the opposite result. We try to include every possible holiday activity we’ve ever done because we want to make everyone in our family to happy, but then we’re too exhausted to enjoy them and we might be in a bad mood to boot. Several articles on decreasing holiday stress include this ideal recommendation: Hold a family meeting early in the holiday season. Ask each person to write down (or tell you) 1-3 holiday traditions that they definitely want to include. What traditions or activities are so special to them that it wouldn’t feel like Christmas if the family didn’t participate in them? Then ask which ones they would be ok leaving out. Prioritize your schedule accordingly. It could be that you’ve been expending a lot of effort unnecessarily. For example, maybe what your family really wants is just relaxed time watching a Christmas movie, not waiting in the long lines for the Speedway in Lights.
I hope this suggestion is helpful for you and your family and that it’s your best holiday season ever.