It’s actually a pretty difficult time of the year for many. There are images everywhere of ideal family dinners but for some that is not a reality. There is pressure to buy presents and spend money yet there are those who are struggling financially. There are emotions that the holidays stir up that lay dormant for much of the year.
I understand. There is, however, a way to manage some of the things that make it difficult.
As I unpack the ornaments, I unpack memories with them, sweet reminders of past Christmases. Many of the ornaments that decorate our tree commemorate a milestone…Our First Christmas, Baby’s First Christmas…etc. Many of them were gifts from my mom. While the memories are sweet, the pain of loss is bitter.
For years I would slip away from the activity of decorating to collect myself and shake off the sadness but I have learned over the years to change my mindset. Now, I look forward to the tradition as a way of setting time aside to be with the memories and celebrate all the love that my tree holds:
- a faded ornament from my grandparent’s tree
- little treasures made with tiny fingers that are now full grown hands
- chubby faces of babies dressed like santa and an elf (the things we do to our children!)
- gifts from friends old and new
Here are a few tips to help you navigate the holidays with cheer!
1. Identify those things that cause stress
Is there something you are dreading during the holiday season? Are there difficult relationships that you will have to deal with? Is the financial pressure of gift giving stressing you out? Unless you identify the sources of stress you can’t address them.
2. Find a way to limit if not eliminate those things.
If there is something that you are absolutely dreading, you can take control over how it affects you by changing your mindset. Go with a different attitude and you may be pleasantly surprised how things turn around.
You may discover as you dig a little deeper that you are striving to meet other people’s expectations of you which is not a healthy motive for continuing to put yourself in a negative situation. If you can’t eliminate it altogether then consider limiting the amount of time or maybe gathering in a place or time that would be less stressful.
If finances are stressing you out let people know ahead of time that you will be scaling back and giving smaller meaningful gifts instead so that the expectation is set ahead of time. Maybe it’s my age, but I enjoy thoughtful things my children have done like recording a song for me or putting a slide show together as opposed to store bought things.
3. Carve out some time for yourself
Even if it is something really small, do something YOU love to do this season. Last night on our way home from picking up my daughter from work we drove around and looked at houses in our neighborhood all lit up for Christmas. Normally we zoom in and out hardly noticing. While I was organizing my closet the other day I put on Miracle on 34th Street. I am the only one in my family who really loves that movie so I made a cup of tea and watched (and was still productive!) Ok, so I did two things for myself!!
4. Let something go
Unless you are incredibly organized or not very busy it is likely that something is going to get missed this year. For me, it’s Christmas cards. I love to send them, I love to get them but I am letting it go this year. There are just too many things to do and not enough time. Making that decision freed me of having it hang over my head. It just wasn’t in the cards this year. (pun intended)
This should really be first but if the holidays are difficult, stressful or sad for you the absolute best thing you can do is GIVE. It’s getting a little late in the game but I am sure there are still causes that need and would gladly accept last minute help. It may be giving of your time or a gift for someone in need but it will be the thing that brings you great joy this season.
Wishing you and yours a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!