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Article by Wendy McCance
The holiday season can be one of the most stressful times of the year. I remember when I was younger loving and dreading the holidays all at once. I seemed to lose that inner voice during the month of December and every decision seemed guided by outside forces. It was years later after having kids and getting a divorce that I finally found some balance in my life during what can be an incredibly hectic time of year.
Slowing down, careful planning and paying attention to my own feelings changed how I approached the holidays. These days I enjoy the holiday season and truly feel very little stress(which at one point in my life seemed like an impossible feat).
Here is what I did to turn things around:
The chaos generally begins the day after Thanksgiving. People run around madly the day after Thanksgiving to shop all the sales for the holiday.
I used to go out the day after Thanksgiving. There always seemed to be that pressure to get a good bargain. What I realized was that I personally hate the chaos of crowds. The pushing and shoving and feeling anxious about getting a discounted object before they run out. The long lines and rude people and stressing over finding a parking space were things I dreaded. I never really ended up with much after the long exhausting outing, but I felt that if I didn’t go, I’d be missing out. I mean, this is what everyone is doing so I should want to do it too!
Now the day after Thanksgiving I have a pajama day. I began the tradition of having a lazy, lounging type day when the kids were young. I mean, there was no way I was taking the kids out on black Friday to deal with the mob of people at the stores. Nope, instead we would all hang out, watch holiday movies, do some baking or a little sledding up the street if we were lucky enough to get enough snow.
Eventually our family began decorating the house the day after Thanksgiving. The idea was tabled for a few years because some family members felt it was too soon to decorate. I felt that it made the house feel so much more inviting and it’s a lot of work anyways so why not decorate as soon as it is somewhat appropriate? May as well enjoy a well decorated home for a week or two longer.
These days even if the kids are out doing their own thing (they are much older now), for me, cozy clothes, a glass of wine, binge watching old movies and a little decorating still makes for a perfect afternoon.
As I mentioned, I am not a fan of crowds. I don’t enjoy the hustle and bustle of mall shopping during the holiday season. Instead, I grab a cup of tea and a blanket and get comfortable on the sofa as I shop for gifts on the web. It really is the best way to shop!
When I got divorced I suddenly needed to get more organized deciding what events I would and wouldn’t go to during the holiday’s. The kids came first and I said no to many parties along the way. You know what? It’s awesome! I used to feel so guilty if I didn’t show up everywhere I was invited (especially if family was involved). But, when I had to start juggling a schedule that would accommodate my ex-husband’s and my own schedule, figuring out what events I would attend became simple. I no longer am faced with so many stressed-out party-goer’s who are on overload. My own stress has decreased as I am now faced with less drama too.
This might sound incredibly unpopular, but I don’t buy presents for each and every person. When I was in my 20’s, I tried in vain to get each person I cared for something that I thought they would like. Several years later, I went through a few rough years where money was tight, getting presents for my kids became challenging and there was just no way I could afford to buy gifts for anyone else. I said no to many gift exchanges along the way. It just wasn’t possible. Back then, it made me feel like a Grinch to say no even though it wasn’t possible to participate.
These days, I think gift giving is a bit silly for adults. It’s so difficult to find that perfect gift. How many times do you receive a gift that is pointless? Do you really need another random candle, throw blanket or sweater that is too small and not your style at all? It’s a nice thought, but I guess I think back to the days when I struggled and feel bad that someone spent their hard earned money on something that doesn’t thrill.
Instead of gifts, these days I’d much rather get together with friends and family and go out to dinner or have appetizers and play games or make plans with a friend to bake cookies. I’ve been lucky to be around people who feel the same and I have had some memorable times enjoying their company. It’s been a far greater feeling of joy than receiving a random present.
Look, I may do the holidays much differently than most, but I still decorate, the kids get gifts, I do some extra baking (when the mood strikes), and my happiness is at an all time high. I pay attention to my inner voice and know what makes me happy. I trust that voice and make decisions based on what works best for me.
What about you? Do you enjoy the holidays or do you get stressed out? Are you good at declining situations that won’t make you happy? Leave a comment below and share your own experience of how you handle the holiday season.
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