This week’s post was submitted by guest blogger Tanya Pritt. We hope that you enjoy it and look for future posts from Tanya.
Christmas will be here in less than 70 days!
It’s hard not to think about Christmas. After all, Macy’s announced on television last week that they will be open on Thanksgiving! Stores are beginning to offer their best decorating options, and tins of holiday cookies and candy are showing up on shelves next to the Halloween treats.
Just the sight of these displays can bring anxiety and stress into our lives. How are we going to do everything we think we need to? How will we afford the presents this year? What do the kiddos even want?
Take a breath! If I have learned anything in my life, it is that January 1 comes and we can all watch football and relax. Here are a couple of ways we manage stress in our family:
- Be selective about additional activities. There are so many parties: with work, school, teams, and family. Figure out which would be the most fun and rewarding and attend those. Learn to let the others go.
- Get enough rest. Set a time to stop activities at night.
- Make a budget. Stick with it. Don’t apologize. If you feel obligated to buy a gift for outside of your family, don’t buy the gift. Instead, send a hand-written card. Write about a memory you share with that person or family: this will be a gift in itself.
- Have realistic expectations. Accept the fact that things will go wrong. Kids may have a meltdown, Christmas dinner may not come out as perfectly as you hoped, and people may be disappointed by their presents. My boys are grown now and have their own families, but when we were all together last Christmas I found that, with the gifts I had bought them, I had taken their adulthood for granted. As they were going through the stockings that I had filled the night before, they all looked at each other and said accusingly, ”Mom, where is the new toothbrush?” And they weren’t kidding!
- Keep it simple. Ask for help. And then let the “helpers” help! Have a family meeting and sort it out early, giving everyone a role to play.
- Talk to a friend. Take a break from the demands of the holiday and have a conversation. Sharing your feelings with a supportive friend is an important way to relieve holiday stress and anxiety.
- Be open to collaboration. Make the Christmas meals pot lucks; most people have a favorite recipe and would love to contribute. If someone is crafty, put them in charge of decorations! Children can help as well.
- When you begin to feel the stress, take a walk around the block. Sometimes just getting physical and breathing fresh air can lend perspective.
As much as children, and even teenagers, want to be surprised by the latest toy or piece of technology, they also feel the love and comforts of tradition. Years from now they may or may not remember the gift they received, but they will recall the temperament in the house, the meals they ate, and the company they kept. Whatever the tradition, however small or elaborate, these are things from which memories are made.
As for me, I am headed to Costco to buy some Halloween candy and a family-size package of toothbrushes to put in my Christmas closet for later!
Tanya has been the Director of Milestones for the past 21 years. She has been working in the field of addictions for over 30 years.