Today’s blog is written by Lee Anne Medwid.
It’s the Season to be jolly… ho, ho, ho!
Christmas decorations appear in stores as soon as the Halloween items have been removed. What’s that piped-in music, Christmas music already? As Christmas continues to become increasingly commercialized, stress can increase. Trying to meet their own expectations and those of their children and teen’s gift requests, based on the latest media “candy” must-haves, some parents and caregivers get stressed. And what about those diamond engagement ring ads? The ones that imply you better be in a relationship for Christmas and if you are, it’s time to get engaged (keep in mind Valentine’s Day as the back-up option).
There are the media images of what Christmas is supposed to be e.g. contented families by the tree with a hill of gifts. An image that excludes persons who are e.g. homeless, grieving, separated from family and/or friends, experiencing financial challenges. Families who could be considered financially “well-off,” may also feel guilty that they are not meeting the expectations of the idealized media images.
Then there are the well-intentioned attempts at inclusion made to take the word “Christmas” out of the season and to provide the “reason for the season” in Christmas decorations, and Santa Claus parades. Trivia alert: Many of these “Christmas” traditions have their origins in the Pagan (pre-Christian) traditions e.g. mistletoe, wreaths, Christmas lights. The spirit of Christmas in Christianity based on Jesus’ teachings is about generosity, tolerance, kindness, and understanding. Might this be an invitation to pause, reflect, and in some cases, act differently? Is time to rediscover the kid in you and have some fun?
So before the expectations and the frenzied rush of the season, below are some tips for you to consider, or create your own. Have a stress-free Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice…
- Take care of yourself (a walk, a warm bath, a good book, music). Emotions, stress and sometimes anxiety and depression can heighten at this time. Eat nutritionally, get enough sleep, and exercise the right amount for you. Watch the amount of sugar, caffeine (coffee, tea, Pop, chocolate) that can affect sleep and mood
- Balance social time with others with “me” time. To help prioritize your time and energy, ask yourself what do I want to do? What feels like an obligation? What can I let go of?
- What are Christmas traditions (e.g. you grew up with) that you want to let go of and are there any you want to keep? This can mean starting new traditions which can be important for newly-formed couples, step-families and blended families.
- Realistic plans might include not trying to fit in too many visits or travelling to too many destinations in bad weather (again look at what feels like an obligation) . Can there be one celebration spot to “meet in the middle.” Does it have to be exactly on Christmas day?
- If there are “toxic” people in your life that you are trying to let go of, ask yourself, “If I don’t want to spend time with them other times of the year, why would I spend Christmas with them?
- As Suze Orman the well-known financial advisor says, “People first, then money, then things.” Consider some low-cost gift ideas, fun activities e.g. make paper cards, send e-cards (“go green”), bake, go for a walk, ice skate, toboggan, make a snowman/person/family…be creative