Article by Wendy McCance
Are the holidays a peaceful time for you? I feel like I have experienced the holiday in every form over the years. I have had stressful years, years full of holiday joy, the magic of the holidays as a child and the years where I just felt lonely.
As I have gotten older and had children of my own, I feel like I have hit my stride and found a good happy medium. I am no longer stressed or lonely at the holidays. I have discovered what works for our family in creating a magical time of year filled with happy memories.
For me, the holidays are all about creating traditions, visiting with friends and family and celebrating what makes the holidays fun for the kids. At our house, we decorate the home as a family. Everyone in the household contributes in the decorating process. Baking treats are also a family affair. Baking and decorating cookies has been a tradition in our family since the kids were small. We used to get together with a good friend of mine and her kids, but that has fallen to the wayside since my friends kids are now pretty much adults.
There used to be an incredible amount of stress that went into buying gifts for family and friends. These days, we prefer to throw a holiday party instead of driving ourselves crazy looking for presents for a million people. It’s just too stressful to buy a present that has little meaning and hope it might be appreciated. The cost of all of those presents was another consideration in downsizing. Personally I think that businesses should throw holiday parties, but have a no gift policy. Trying to buy gifts for co-workers and the boss can cause a significant amount of unneeded stress.
Now that our kids are much older, even their gifts have changed. What used to be more about quantity is now more about quality. Each kid makes a list of some items that they really want. These are items that cost more and typically would not be bought any other time of year. Electronic gadgets are high on these lists. We will buy one or two gifts plus fill a stocking with teen necessities like a Starbucks gift card, an iTunes card and something personalized like a key chain. The kids are always thrilled.
Last year, for example, two kids got a Kindle Fire and one child got ice-skating equipment. Instead of a filling the stocking, we got gourmet caramel apples (the type that are huge and can be cut in slices). The kids said it was the best Christmas ever. Who knew that buying gifts could be so easy.
My favorite new tradition (weather permitting) is skating on our homemade ice rink on Christmas Eve. The christmas lights are on, holiday music is playing, the house is full of family and there are good things to eat. Seeing the kids on the ice in the evening on such a special night has been one of my favorite traditions.
What are the holidays like for you? Have you found a way to get the most out of the holidays without the stress?
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